Visiting a newborn is fun and exciting – after all, who doesn’t love soaking up all the smells, sounds, and cuddles of a new baby?
However, certain behaviors from guests can be annoying or disturbing to a new mom and dad. When visiting a newborn, it is important for friends and family to be respectful of the new parents and abide by their rules. Visitors should be compassionate toward new moms and allow them to enjoy their new family without being a nuisance.
As you are planning your visit, keep in mind these 8 guidelines that most new parents will appreciate their visitors following.
1. When the baby is crying
If the baby is crying, give him/her back to Mom.
New parents need time to bond with their newborn, so don’t expect to hold the baby the entire time during your visit. Newborns need lots of skin-to-skin bonding time with the mother, and mama might not be so ready to hand off her baby just yet!
Always give the baby back to the mother if the baby is crying. Don’t try to console the newborn, don’t try to give unsolicited advice about how often to hold the baby, and don’t wait before handing the baby back to mom. In the early weeks, the mother is functioning on very little sleep, and it’s important not to overstay your welcome. Don’t forget that a newborn baby is very attached to the mother and craves closeness with familiar caregivers.
You may want to offer to take care of the baby while the mom gets some sleep, but if the infant becomes inconsolable, it’s probably time for mama to step in. Avoid making a comment about whether a newborn seems fussy or clingy – new babies need to be close to their mother in order to feel safe and secure.
Some helpful tasks while the mom soothes a crying baby is to offer to entertain her other children, make her some food, wash the baby’s laundry, or clean up for the new parents.
2. Do not smoke
Keep in mind that smoke harms babies.
It is never okay to smoke around a baby (cigarettes or marijuana). Secondhand and thirdhand smoke can be very harmful to an infant’s developing respiratory system. Visitors should take care not to smoke around a new baby or wear clothing that might have smoke residue on it.
3. Only visit when healthy
Stay away if you are sick.
Although this should be common sense, do not visit a newborn baby if you are sick, potentially sick, or contagious. Given the current pandemic, it is pretty hard to forget that we must be extra careful around those with compromised immune systems. A newborn baby’s immune system is not as mature as an adult’s, so take extra caution to only visit a newborn when you are feeling well.
If you are feeling unwell or have recently been sick, try to wait before visiting a newborn. Call the parents and arrange a new time to see their little one. Waiting a few days or even weeks could help prevent their precious new baby from catching a potentially life-threatening virus.
New parents will greatly appreciate the extra kindness of visitors who take their kids’ health into consideration. Something as harmless as a slight cough or sore throat could lead to serious complications for a new baby. What you might suspect are just seasonal allergies could actually be a cold, the flu, or something worse. An adult or older child might be able to fight off a virus fairly easily, but it can cause big complications for a newborn.
If you have any symptoms, assume that you are still contagious and it is not okay for you to be around an infant. A virus such as RSV, enterovirus, rotavirus, influenza, and COVID-19 can manifest itself as a slight fever and sniffles in an adult, but can be lethal to a new baby. Newborns are not able to handle infections in the same way that kids and adults can. When babies have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within the first month of life, they need immediate hospital treatment to test for serious conditions.
A cold sore can also be very dangerous to a newborn. As a precaution, do not kiss the baby, ever. A brand new baby cannot fight off infections like an adult can. A simple cold sore can have major consequences for an infant, so do not forget that it is vital to not kiss the baby under any circumstances, especially on the baby’s face.
The same rules apply to your other children – do not bring sick kids around a newborn baby. Plan your visits for times when the whole family is feeling well. Whether it’s just a common cold or a more serious infection, keep sick kids away from newborns.
Don’t dismiss minor symptoms of illness as harmless. Expect to wait until you are healthy and symptom-free before spending time around a new infant.
4. Handle social media with care
Do not post photos on social media without permission.
Although it can be exciting to post photos and videos of babies on social media, it is important to let the family enjoy their new baby and be the first to post those adorable baby pictures. Be aware that some caregivers are very cautious about showcasing pictures of their children online.
Let the new parents be the first to put pictures online.
Having a new baby is full of firsts, from birth and going home from the hospital, to the baby’s first steps! The early weeks and months of full of exciting moments the family will cherish forever, so respect the family’s boundaries and don’t overstep by putting tons of pictures online without permission.
If you want to be helpful, offer to take some family photos during your visit. Chances are, there aren’t too many pictures with both mom and dad in them! Feel free to snap some adorable photos to capture the family’s beautiful moments at home as they bond with their new baby.
When visiting a newborn, enjoy your time but respect the family’s rules for posting pictures online. Be a courteous visitor by soaking up all those newborn cuddles, but don’t assume that you can brag about that sweet little baby on social media without the explicit permission from the mom and dad!
5. Wash your hands
Always wash your hands before touching a newborn.
During the first few months after birth, newborns are very susceptible to illness. It is important for any visitor to wash their hands before touching a baby.
In the early months of life, illnesses can be very dangerous for an infant. In fact, even what is considered a “low grade” fever might require hospitalization to rule out serious issues. Visitors should take care to practice good hand washing hygiene by washing with soap and warm water for a good amount of time before holding the baby.
Always follow the caregivers’ rules about when to wash your hands, and be conscientious of the new parents’ worries during your visit. It is never okay to handle a newborn when you are feeling ill, but even if you don’t have any symptoms of sickness, it’s important to keep your hands clean when you’re around an infant.
6. Don’t overstay your welcome
Be helpful, not a nuisance.
A courteous visitor will know when it is time to leave. If the parents seem overwhelmed by guests or the baby seems overstimulated by visitors, feel free to ask the mom and dad if they would like you to end your visit.
Although it can be fun to have a visitor, birth and postpartum are difficult times for the mother. New moms need time to heal from birth and adjust to a new family member while figuring out how to tend to their baby’s needs. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to ask about the rules and time frame for visits ahead of time.
If the baby is sleeping when you arrive for your visit, do not wake the baby – mama will appreciate it! Visitors should be aware of the baby’s sleep schedule but also keep in mind that newborn sleep is often unpredictable. Do not make the family feel guilty if the baby is sleeping when you visit. While you wait for the little one to wake up, feel free to offer to make food, buy coffee, or help with any other household tasks that the parents might be putting off while they care for their newborn.
Always call ahead of time.
Always follow the family’s rules when you visit, and be sure to call ahead of time. Do not show up unannounced after the baby is born. The baby might be sleeping, the mother might be busy feeding the baby, or mama might be catching up on sleep. Remembering to call ahead of time is a great habit when you are visiting a new mama and baby.
7. First time parents need support
Show respect for all parenting choices – no matter how you personally feel.
New parents often have big ideas about how they’re going to parent their infant – and it’s up to visitors to support them, no matter what (unless, of course, the infant is in some sort of danger). From “crunchy” parenting, to gentle parenting, to natural childbirth, to cloth diapering, to glass bottles, to sleep training, to extended breastfeeding, to circumcision, to ear piercing, there are many controversial topics when it comes to raising babies.
The best way to show a new mom that you care is by offering support, compassion, and advice when prompted. Parenting is a brand new experience when you have your first baby, and people often do lots of reading and research before the birth of their child. New parents might have grand plans when it comes to taking care of their little one, and what seems like a good idea to them might seem a little off the wall to you.
Courteous visitors know when to speak up and when to keep quiet.
Unless the infant or parents are engaging in a dangerous behavior, consider keeping your advice and opinions to yourself unless asked. Raising kids is no easy task, and parents need support more now than ever before. There is more to life than being right, and no one way to be a perfect parent. Show your loved ones some grace when you visit their babies!
8. Provide a meal for the new parents
When in doubt – bring food.
When parents are busy handling a newborn, housework, and everything else in life, it can be difficult to cook healthy meals. Friends can bring food to the new parents to help alleviate some of that stress!
Call ahead of time and ask the family if there is anything in particular they would like, or any dietary restrictions you should know about. If you don’t have time to prepare a home-cooked meal, consider bringing over takeout from the family’s favorite restaurant, or gifting them a gift certificate to use for a meal delivery service.
Visitors can be fun and overwhelming for new parents as they juggle bonding with their new baby and trying to entertain guests. When you visit, consider bringing food or coffee – the exhausted caregivers will probably welcome it!
The birth of a child is an exciting time, but visitors can be overwhelming.
Visitors should be courteous and keep germs away, never wake a sleeping baby, and never assume it’s okay to just show up unannounced. Constant visits can be a nuisance for new parents who are just trying to bond with their little one. Be a good guest by calling ahead of time, being helpful, and following the family’s rules for visits.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.