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Rules and Guidelines for Visiting a Newborn (and new Mama)

woman carrying smiling baby

YAY!!  The baby is here and you are extremely excited to go and meet him/her and fuss over the brand-new mommy.

Before you visit, here are some rules and guidelines before visiting a newborn baby and a new mama.

Call first

NO pop-ins .. EVER!!  This is probably the worst thing you could ever do to a new mother. Enough said!

Having a new baby with a new schedule can be stressful. Work around their schedule and not necessarily yours. Recognize that while it’s nice to have visitors, it can also be an unsettling time, so be flexible and patient with the new parents. After all, they’re entrusting you to be around their brand-new baby.

Make an arrangement with the new mama to go meet the new baby.  Beyond that, give her a quick call or send a message to let her know that you’re on your way, even when you’ve scheduled the visit ahead of time. She may be in the middle of a nap or feeding the baby, and she’d really appreciate the advanced notice.

Bring Food

Now is not the time to expect a spread of food or a freshly brewed coffee on your arrival.  It is your duty to take the load off the new parents. As you are planning your visit, throw it in that you will bring some food and something to drink.

Let’s just be real here, nothing says LOVE like a nice warm ready-made meal, lasagne or brownies right?!! Make sure you’re aware of any dietary restrictions or dislikes, and then go for it! A Bonus would be a meal for today and a meal to be frozen for later.  The demands of caring for her newborn is already taking up all of her energy so for her not to worry about food will be amazing.

Wash your hands – Sanitise

This should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Always, ALWAYS wash your hands (and use hand sanitizer where available) before holding the newborn you’re visiting. Even if you washed your hands when you arrived, make sure you wash them right before you hold the baby, too.

Never Come Sick

This is a big one. Even a “little cold” can be a big deal for a family with a newborn. The little baby has a sensitive immune system as it’s still slowly developing.  As a visitor, be extra mindful when visiting newborns (and pregnant or postpartum moms) if you’re sick, getting sick, or just getting over a sickness.

The last thing mom needs is to get sick while running on little to no sleep and caring for her baby (then worrying about passing it onto her baby) So, if the word sick sounds all too familiar to you right now, turn around, stay home and wait until you are better!

NO kissing!

Kissing baby is a big no-no!! I know, they’re so cute with those squishy little cheeks, but it’s too easy to pass germs to a newborn.  So even though it’ll take lots of willpower, just don’t do it, unless the parents give you permission.

I think we’ve all read the horror stories of inadvertently spreading the herpes virus to newborns. Refraining from kissing a baby on the face (or anywhere else, really) is just a good idea.  And don’t stick your fingers in a baby’s mouth, clean or not. Ever!

Don’t Smell Like Smoke or Heavy Perfume

Most new parents will be very concerned about this one. If you are a smoker, please make sure that you have clean, smoke-free clothing before visiting a newborn.  Save the perfume or strong cologne for another time, too. Many people, especially babies, are extremely sensitive to smoke, strong perfumes and scents.

Don’t Forget About Dad

Although most dads won’t admit it, they can often feel left out. They may not even realize how they feel.

When visiting a newborn and new mom, acknowledge the new dad. Congratulate him! Bring him a cigar, beer, or new dad gift.  Offer to give him a break.  Many new dads would welcome a chance to take a break.

Don’t Wake the Baby!

Don’t expect to see a newborn awake. They need to sleep a lot. If they are awake, they usually need to eat.

Never, ever wake a sleeping baby! I know they’re adorable and you are visiting for some baby snuggles, but if baby is sleeping, be respectful and let them sleep.

That also means, do your best to be mindful and be quiet when talking, don’t play videos with your volume all the way up and just try to be overall quiet so you don’t wake up the baby.

Ask if you can hold the newborn baby

Do not assume you can hold the baby. Ask if you may hold the baby, and then wash your hands. If hand sanitizer is handed to you – do not feel offended. Although you probably will get a chance to hold the baby, don’t expect that will always be the case.

During your visit, the baby may be fussy, nursing, or sleeping.  Some babies are extremely sensitive to being overstimulated and the parents might have just spent hours calming down a fussy or colicky baby. Always ask. Don’t assume.

Be Willing to Help

Always offer to help out. There is usually lots to do!  A new mother may be out of touch with what needs to be done, so feel free to offer suggestions … look around… I bet you’ll notice something!

(And make sure it’s help she wants; not help you think she wants.)

Here are some ideas:

  • Offer to hold the baby so she can take a nap or shower
  • Ask her for a shopping list you can grab ahead of time
  • Walk her dog
  • Play with the older sibling
  • Offer to clean something without implying that it’s messy. Try saying, “Is there anything you need done that’s totally stressing you out? I’d love to relieve some stress for you.”

They will LOVE you for that!

Compliment the New Mom

A new mother is often struggling with insecurities that are new or overwhelming. She often feels fat, ugly, inadequate, anxious, tired, moody, depressed… Pay her a sincere heart-felt compliment. It will make her day!

Don’t Ignore Feeding Cues

If you are holding a baby who is awake, you will probably notice some early feeding cues such as opening his/her mouth searching for food, sucking on little fingers, smacking lips etc. These are early feeding cues. Time to give the baby back to mom before he/she starts to cry!

Don’t Stare During Breastfeeding

If your visit takes place over a breastfeeding session, make sure that you offer to leave the room or at least inquire about the mother’s comfort level. By all means… don’t stare!

If you are uncomfortable, this is a great time to wander into the kitchen and do some chores!

Don’t forget about the older sibling

Bringing home a newborn baby is also a huge adjustment for an elder child. Don’t only focus on the new baby, also reach out to and engage the elder sibling. Make a point to greet and congratulate the big brother or sister. Many older siblings (and pets) will be feeling left out or displaced. Special attention will be extremely helpful and appreciated by the baby’s parents!

Keep your visit as short as possible

Don’t overstay your welcome! Unless you are doing chores, you should limit your visit to about a half hour or so.

The new parents may be too polite to ask you to leave, but watch for signs of them getting tired, disinterested in the conversation or needing to eat or sleep. If the baby is sleeping, they will probably want to nap as well!

Do not comment on her house or body

Pretty much the last thing a new mom wants to deal with right now is being self-conscious about a messy house or leaking breasts.

“It looks like a tornado came through here!” or “Oh, you’re boobs are huge!” or, “You look exhausted” are not okay. It sounds ridiculous, but it happens—a lot.

You could say, “Her/His nursery is so adorable!” or “You are absolutely glowing.”

Keep Your Advice to Yourself

New moms get so much unsolicited advice. It is so overwhelming for them. Please keep your advice to yourself unless you are asked for it!  Decisions like how her baby is being fed, whether or not her son was circumcised, her decision to go back to work or stay home—it’s all so personal and probably comes with doubt, no matter what she’s decided. If she asks you, go for it (gently).  

Don’t Ask if the Baby is Sleeping Through the Night!

They’re NOT!! Newborns don’t sleep through the night. They need to eat often, so please don’t ask that question! It only makes new parents feel anxious that something may be wrong with their baby.

Don’t Drink Hot Drinks While Holding the Baby

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think about this one. Drinking hot tea while holding a baby is just not worth the risk and will definitely make the new parents uneasy!

Always ask if you can bring your kids during the visit

Don’t assume you can bring your kids. Kids tend to be primary little germ transporters since they like to touch everything and likely haven’t mastered the best hygiene techniques.  Ask the parents if it’s ok for you to bring your kids. If they say no, please don’t be offended. Be understanding and respect their wishes.

Ask for permission before taking any photos, and don’t use flash.

It’s always a good idea to ask before you snap a photo of the new baby (and post it on social media), to be respectful of boundaries and parental intentions. Also, since using a flash can severely irritate a baby’s eyes, please remember to turn it off before snapping the photo.

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She will love seeing you and appreciate you taking the time to come and meet the new baby, but it’s really important not to overstay your welcome. She needs to sleep, bond with her baby, or binge watch a series on Netflix in peace. Make sure to give her that opportunity.

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