Few things match the pure joy of seeing and holding a newborn, especially one that does not belong to you (okay, maybe that’s just my perception as a childfree woman who’s never held a child of my own.) If you’re anything like me and you live for that fresh baby scent, here are some etiquette rules to keep in mind when visiting parents with a newborn.
Schedule in advance
Begin by asking if you can come, don’t just pop in. Yes, you may just want to celebrate with them but that may not work for them. They may not necessarily be ready or open to visitors for a variety of reasons ranging from personal to medical concerns. If they’re open to it, agree on what time works for them and find out if there are any rules, they’d like you to abide by. If you’re coming with other people, let them know. Don’t just arrive with your other friends who the parents don’t know.
Respect their schedule
New parents often have their lives upended and they’re often trying to find a schedule that works for the newborn and the mother. The mother is often exhausted, sleep-deprived, and overwhelmed so keep time, and even better keep your visit short and sweet. About an hour is great, unless the mother asks you to stay longer.
Health and hygiene concerns
Don’t visit a newborn if you are unwell or were recently unwell, especially in light of the global Covid 19 pandemic. Hold off until you’ve completely recovered. The mother and baby’s immunities cannot handle infections.
Most parents would also prefer you wash your hands and maybe even sanitize them before holding the baby.
Also, ask before reaching for the baby. Don’t assume the parents are okay with you holding the baby.
As irresistible as it may be, don’t kiss the baby. Their immune system can’t handle the risk. Also if you have had a herpes infection that goes double for you not kissing babies or children.
Ask if you can bring your children with you, don’t just arrive with your three-year-old flu-prone toddler. You should even consider wearing a mask.
Remember what your mother said, don’t visit anybody empty-handed. Food is often a certain hit. You can find out if the new mom has any cravings or if you know their comfort food you can bring that. Other things you can bring include things like diapers and wipes which easily run out. Just ask in advance which brand and size they use. Also, don’t neglect the other children in the home when it comes to gifts. Bring them something as well.
Don’t wait to be waited on or entertained. The mom is likely exhausted, focused on the baby, and not their usual entertaining self. Get up and serve yourself and if you’ve come in a group, take charge of doing things like serving refreshments and cleaning up afterwards. Better yet, come with refreshments, and don’t assume they have anything ready at hand. Offer to help in other ways like by cleaning up or watching the baby so the mom can go take a shower, or babysitting the older siblings.
Watch your words
Don’t comment on the house or how tired she looks or even worse her body. Don’t comment on their parenting choices or worse offer unsolicited advice. This is especially true for people who have already had children, and resist the impulse to correct them or offer advice. So much of parenting is personal and discovered as you go.
Every new mom is different, accept them as they are and respect their concerns. It’s about them, not you. You’re here to celebrate with them and maybe offer them some support. Don’t be offended if they require you to sanitize before holding the baby or say they’re not letting anyone hold the baby or even that they’re not receiving guests yet. If they say they’re not receiving guests yet, give them time, then check in with them after a week or three and ask if you can visit. Most people visit all at once in the early days, so it can be smart to call later on and visit after things have calmed down some.
Nowadays people seem to be giving mum and baby a couple of months to settle before visiting so that the baby’s immunity is not compromised. Before deciding to visit please think about whether it is a must that you must see the newborn baby or you can give them some time to settle especially if you are not immediate family or a very close friend (of the mum). People are seeing babies after 3 months so consider if this is the most appropriate time to visit.
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