7 Rules for Visiting a New Baby

7 rules visiting newborn
Image via Jennifer Bruno

You are about to have a baby.

Moment of silence for your awesomeness.

You are about to bring a new person into the world!

And that means… you are about to get a bunch of visitors.

Does that excite or terrify you?

I teetered between both emotions to be honest.

You will be overwhelmed – whether it’s with love or fatigue or a need to pull your knees up to your chest and rock in the corner. So what you absolutely don’t need is an army of ill-equipped, well-intentioned, rubber-neckers hanging around. You need help. And a smile. And a compliment or nine.

As the person carrying the baby the masses will soon be fawning over, you have a duty – an unavoidable responsibility – to educate these loved ones before your baby is born, your hormones go haywire, and you send your mother-in-law home in tears.

So, here are the rules for your guests. Feel free to mass e-mail your entire address book. Or, you could just tape this to your front door? Hehehe.

You’re welcome.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Time Ain’t On Your Side:  When visiting a new baby, understand downtime is at a premium.  Sure newborns sleep a ton, but new parents (and new babies) are uncoordinated.  Feeding takes time, burping takes time, swaddling takes time… and before you know it, the cycle repeats.  Be sensitive to this.  Ask new parents what time you should visit, and when that time is set – stick to it.  Don’t be surprised, though, if your once perfectly planned time slot turns into a meltdown moment.  Newborns happen.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Don’t Come A Knockin’:  A good friend of mine visited me in my final month of pregnancy.  She brought minestrone for my freezer and made me vow not to allow a single houseguest to enter the premises without food in hand.  She’s wise.  The last thing on any new mother’s mind is meal prep.  Bring something.  Anything.  It doesn’t need to be five courses (cupcakes were key for me!).  It doesn’t even need to be food.  Paper plates should get you in the door.  Paper plates and a casserole should get you extra snuggle time with the baby.  Oh, and if there is an older sibling (or in my case, dog sisters), you may want to bring something for them too!

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Wash Your Hands:  A non-germophobe can turn into an antibacterial bandit overnight when she brings a child into the world.  Wash your hands.  Even if you just did.  There are no exceptions.  Exposing babies to a healthy amount of germs is not your job.  Your job is to wash your hands.  And if you are feeling sick, your job is to stay away.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Mum’s the Word:  After you have a baby, there is only one thing you hear more in an average day than your new baby’s cries.  And that one thing is ADVICE.  Everybody has advice.  EVERYBODY.  Keep yours to yourself unless the new parents invite it.  Many people want advice.  Many people don’t.  Unless yours is requested, your commentary should revolve around how cute/smart/sweet the baby is.

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Image via Jennnifer Bruno

Lend a Hand:  After my baby was born, my mother-in-law did piles of laundry and scoured my shower.  My aunts did my dishes.  My mother walked my dogs and kept my Starbucks cup full.  My uncles offered to make returns at Babies R Us.  My friends brought cupcakes and helped me address thank you notes.  Those things were magnificent.  Offer to do those things.

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Prepare for TMI:  A new mother’s body has undergone a lot.  Pregnancy and labor most likely stripped her of some modesty, and new parent fatigue has most likely stripped her of her filter.  Prepare for boob talk, labor play-by-plays, hemorrhoid updates, and a lesson in padsicles.  Google it. 

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Image via Jennifer Bruno

Be Nice:  If ever there was a time to pay someone a compliment, it is now.  Motherhood brings about a whole new world of insecurity and anxiety.  Tell us we are glowing, that we are naturals, that you are soooo impressed.  Tell us we are amazing, because seriously, we are.  And a few months from now, once we’ve gained a grasp of our new normal, you can stop playing by these rules and go back to treating us like you used to.  Or not.

{ MORE:  7 Things Not to Say to a New Mother }

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What other guidelines would you like your guests to follow?

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7 Rules for Visiting a New Baby

Jennifer Bruno is a credentialed trainer by day and a freelance writer and aspiring photographer by night. Raised in rural Kansas, Jen moved to sunny Florida after college where she met her husband, who married her despite hearing her sing Dixie Chicks karaoke. Shortly after saying “I do”, they moved to New York City to fulfill their dream of living amongst the bright lights and skyscrapers. They currently share their cramped apartment with two modelesque miniature dachshunds named Millie an ... More

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43 comments

  1. Profile photo of Mike Mike says:

    All good advice, but there is something that few think about, and that could actually save the life of the baby you are visiting….Get your TDaP (pertussis/whooping cough) vaccination booster!

    Babies are susceptible to pertussis because vaccinations only start at 2 months old, and protection only really gears up from 6 months on. Up till then, they can catch pertussis from family contacts, who may unknowingly be infected with it (adults often just have a “cold”, rather than getting really sick with the infection).
    Please, please, please do this, for the sake of every baby you see!

  2. Profile photo of Alanna Alanna says:

    I am verrry nervous for the visitors. Too much attention makes me anxious.

    • Profile photo of irasema irasema says:

      you have every right to only want select people to visit you, if there is anyone who you do not want to visit let the nurses know and they will make sure they don’t enter. I honestly don’t want you to go throught what I went through. If I could change it I would

  3. Profile photo of Kayla Kayla says:

    This is getting shared with EVERYONE I know!!! Thank you!!! I can’t seem to get this through some people’s heads…

  4. Profile photo of Karleen Karleen says:

    I really like these tips, and I want to share them with others. For my first pregnancy, only immediate family members visited and helped. That was great. Friends came later when we were settled. I hope this is the case for the second pregnancy.

  5. I am worried I wont get any alone time with my baby till probably a week after he is born but I know there is dome people such as my brother who i want to meet him right away! My brother is stationed in Norfolk Virginia and I only get to see him once a year, he tried to arrange his leave so he could meet my little one. I am very excited but at the same time I want to do the skin to skin and breastfeeding and I know that will be hard to do with a million people in the waiting room. I am not very good at standing up for myself, I hope when I see my little man that will change!

  6. Profile photo of SANDY SANDY says:

    I had a friend of my Mom’s stop over wantng to see my new twins and bring a gift. She promised she wouldn’t stay long because i had 2 toddlers and 2 new borns. When she got there, she wondered where my Mom was – that she hadn’t seen her in awhile. I “had” to call my Mom to come over – she really didn’t want to…..She finally came an hour later and my “aunt and her daughterinlaw” were still there – it was almost suppertime and my hubby was going to home soon. She later complained to another “Aunt” that I was a terrible hostess – that I should have made a coffee cake know ing she was coming. What??? She ended up staying over 2 hrs – I was exhausted when she left!

  7. Profile photo of Heather Heather says:

    I agree. I tend to go overboard in my fight against germs, but loved showing off my little one. I got a godee from http://www.meluvkush.com as a gift from my friend and loved it because it forced people to hold her without touching her directly. She was snug as a bug.

  8. I have my baby in February & already everyone is talking about they cant wait to see my baby. i want to give it at least 2months before i have visitors. Unless its like my grandpa or Aunt someone in my intermediate family but other than that no visitors. Only visitors when i want.

  9. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    I really wish visitors would have stuck to a schedule after I had my daughter. It was bad enough that the month before I gave birth my father-in-law was staying at my house but after 38 hours of labor and an emergency c-section all I wanted was rest not a dozen people hovering around my bed questioning me. Trust me there will definitely be no visitors for at least a week next time.

  10. Profile photo of Tabitha Tabitha says:

    I allowed people over when I WANTED TO. The first two weeks I was so sore and tired that I just didn’t want to deal with people. After I had been asked by a few people, I let three visit and I really enjoyed the interactions.

  11. Profile photo of Becci Becci says:

    My family came over as soon as we got home. They thought they were being helpful by holding and feeding the baby so I could clean house and cook. Our baby was fed by about 10 different people the first three days we were home. My family needed these rules!

  12. Profile photo of Layne Layne says:

    I almost feel like posting this outside my door 🙂

  13. Profile photo of tiffany520 tiffany520 says:

    I really liked the rules but for me I want the first week or two to myself other than close family that are there to help out. I believe baby and I need our special time to learn each other without distractions. Then little by little I will let visitors come by and see the baby.

  14. this really helped a lot. i greatly appreciated it, thank you 🙂

  15. Profile photo of Morgan Hart Morgan Hart says:

    Any visitors that want to visit at the hospital need to A) ask first! and B) stay for a VERY BRIEF period of time (15-20 minutes is plenty) unless specifically asked to stay longer or come frequently. If you don’t want to be rude to guests, ask your LD nurse to help you monitor visitors and ask people to leave if she notices them hanging around a long time. I usually visit (immediate family only) at the hospital for a few brief minutes (without my own two little ones), then call a week or two after they get home to set up a time to visit for longer (and I bring a meal, of course). There’s nothing worse than guests who invite themselves for dinner to see the baby! Although my cousin has a "birthday party" at the hospital with 20+ people hours after delivery for each child, so I guess to each her own….

    • Profile photo of pumpkin pumpkin says:

      yeah i didnt quite get that luxury when i was in the hospital… although my family was VERY accommodating and ASKING if they could come visit… the DH’s family was not quite so reasonable… coming unannounced (while im in the middle of breastfeeding mind you) and staying way longer than should be. at one point i had 7 people in the hospital room with me (my DH had to help a relative so my mum was helping out) and after everyone finally left i cried and cried… tried telling the nurses to not let anyone back without calling us to make sure its okay after that and of course they only called for 1/2 the people… its super nice to have visitors, but i had an emergency c-section and all i wanted to do was cuddle my beautiful baby, get the hang of breastfeeding, and frankly rest… but i guess everyone else had the idea of cuddling him too …. :/

      • Profile photo of jillianjj jillianjj says:

        Our hospital has a 5 digit pin that parents are given when they first arrive for delivery. The only people getting in are the people who get the code (they can only get it from the parents). In our case, it will only be my sister and my son (she’s staying with our 3-year-old). No one else will be visiting us in the hospital.

  16. Profile photo of Marilyn Marilyn says:

    I don’t want visitors.

  17. Profile photo of pumpkin pumpkin says:

    this list addresses all the concerns of mine and then some… great article!!!! <3

  18. I think babies need to meet as many people as possible at a young age so that they are semi-desensitized to it as they grow older in our growing population!

  19. Profile photo of DebPeresich DebPeresich says:

    Don’t come over to visit within the first week of arrival. I had just moved &the house was a wreck. My parents came up to help out as my husband couldn’t take time off & so in between visits at the hospital, my parents were unpacking & putting things together. I had a broken tailbone too & that 1st week I wasn’t wanting to see many people.

  20. Profile photo of Amanda Amanda says:

    when my niece and nephew come over, if they touch the dog thats fine but hands must be washed before touching the baby

    • Profile photo of pumpkin pumpkin says:

      i feel the same way about my cats… and then i get dirty looks when i tell people they must have clean hands… they play in their litterboxes for crying out loud!

  21. Profile photo of MariahAdams MariahAdams says:

    -Don’t touch the baby’s face. He will think he’s getting fed and then get mad when he finds out that’s not the case. Also, germs.
    -If you’re not in the baby’s or parents’ immediate family, don’t kiss the baby. Ew.
    -Don’t rush over to take the baby from Mom when the baby starts fussing. That’s probably the exact opposite of what he wants.
    -Don’t leave the room when Mom starts breastfeeding. There are a lot of things about being a new mom that make her feel lonely already.
    -However, if Mom leaves the room to calm the baby down, don’t intrude. Let Dad check on them.

  22. Don’t bring over a bunch of kids. One of my friends brought over hers, and the youngest hit (on accident but still….) my newborn.

  23. Profile photo of Lily Green Lily Green says:

    Um, I am a very picky eater and into eating light and healthy while my relatives aren’t. I would prefer that they DON’T bring over food, because I will probably end up throwing most of it away and feeling guilty about it. Some people won’t want to be inundated with cookies, casseroles and other junk, so be sensitive to the new parents schedules.

  24. Profile photo of bowens bowens says:

    Just because you are relayed doesn’t mean you can stop by every day or 4 times a week. New parents are getting used to their precious bundle and need time to bond. Be respectful of their time and considerate even if you’re a first time grandparent aunt or uncle.

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