There’s really nothing better than babies, except maybe newborn babies; it’s only natural that out of your love, support, and excitement for the new baby in your life that you want to visit right away. In the midst of all of your love and enthusiasm, there’s something you might overlook – the wishes and needs of the family, especially the momma.
Before popping over for an impromptu or even scheduled visit, take these 12 tips to heart and mind. Keep in mind the mother just gave birth; she’s most likely not rested, not eating or drinking properly, and is adjusting to life with her new little one.
Even the most well-adjusted moms are going through a very delicate time, physically, mentally, and emotionally, whether they realize it or not, whether they show it or not.
If you plan on visiting a new baby soon, take these rules into consideration.
12 rules for visiting a newborn
Don’t just show up
You happen to be in the neighborhood with some fresh baked goods – what a delight you’ll be to show up at your family or friend’s doorstep, right?! Wrong. Whether it’s your first or sixth, adjusting to life with a newborn is demanding and unpredictable. What may be the perfect window of time for you may throw a new mom into a total frenzy, so make sure to wait to be invited or schedule a time to visit.
Be honest about your health
Maybe you just have a little sniffle or nighttime cough. Nothing to be concerned about. But for newborns, even something as simple as a common cold can quickly develop into croup, pneumonia, or other serious illnesses. Get your flu and TDAP shots and postpone your visit if you have any signs of even a slight illness (or if you’ve been exposed to someone who is sick). The baby will be there in a week or two, and you can always video chat to get your fix in the meantime. Can you imagine seeing this tiny new human in the hospital connected to tubes? Is it worth it to see the baby ASAP?
Keep the kiddos at home
Of course you’ll want your kids to see the new baby, too, but keep the kids at home while the baby is still so new. No one is immune to germs, but kids have a way of attracting them even more at daycare and school and may not have the same rigorous standards of hand washing as adults.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you see a new babe is reach out, touch that baby soft skin, and kiss those sweet little cheeks or hands. But don’t. Resist the urge, seriously. Germs pass so quickly through even the quickest, most harmless kisses, so keep your lips to yourself. The newborn stage is not the time to try to build immunities, it’s a time to protect their delicate health and bodies. Don’t believe me? Check out this article on Why a newborn could die from a kiss from Parents.com.
Brief visits are best
Once you get your foot in the door, it’s natural to want to stay to visit, whether to see the baby or catch up with your friends. And maybe they want longer visits – the postpartum period can be very isolating. Plan on a short visit so the mom isn’t secretly wondering when you’re going to leave, and if she wants you to stay, let her tell you so.
Don’t expect to hold the baby
Newborns are like magnets. It’s almost impossible to resist the urge to reach out and snatch them the moment you lay eyes on them. Please resist. Don’t go in with expectations of holding the baby – the newborn phase is an important time for mom to bond with baby, and you have no idea what she’s going through emotionally. She may feel sad or possessive being away from her baby. She may be elated to have an extra set of hands there so she can have a break or take a shower. Again, let the parents make those calls; if she wants a break or wants you to hold her baby, let her tell you.
Wash your hands
Even if you just washed your hands moments before your visit, and even if you don’t plan on holding the baby, make it a point to wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) at the family’s home. It will put the parents at ease and take any discomfort out of them having to ask you to do so.
Check on the mom
Sometimes moms can feel sad, alone, isolated, elated, or confused about their emotions. This is normal – and sometimes moms silently suffer with postpartum depression. Or sometimes a mom just feels left out that all of the attention is on the baby when she’s still physically dealing with the healing process of birth. Make sure to check on the momma, talk to her about her experience or just normal things to let her know she matters too.
Text when you arrive
Give the family a courtesy text when you arrive; you don’t want to disturb any sleeping family member by ringing the bell or knocking, and it can give the mom a chance to prepare herself.
Don’t bring a crowd
If the family is expecting you, don’t show up with your parents, best friends, neighbor, and kids. Stick to the plan and know that everyone will have a time to meet the baby at a time that’s right for the family.
Respect parents’ wishes
No matter if you agree with them, no matter how crazy you think their wishes are, you need to respect the parents’ rules for being around their family. They’ll only allow a specific kind of organic EWG-approved hand sanitizer? They say no unvaccinated visitors? They don’t allow visitors to wear perfume or cologne? Fine – go with it, and don’t project your feelings about it on them.
It’s about them, not you
If parents put restrictions on your visit or postpone when visitors can come, please don’t get your feelings hurt. They need to put their needs above all else, so you need to know that nothing is personal. The newborn stage is the most beautiful, special time – for some. For others, it’s just a matter of surviving day-by-day, maybe hour-by-hour.
Your family member or friend is lucky to have someone so supportive and enthusiastic about their new little bundle of joy. Just remember that the first month(s) are an especially delicate time for baby, mom, and family as they make life-changing adjustments to their new schedule and demands.
Want to really be a good friend? Be the one who’s there even after the first four weeks when some of the novelty has worn off (though does it EVER actually wear off?!); that’s when she’ll really be able to absorb your excitement and support.