This is for you, the friends and family members who are making plans to visit a new born baby. I know that you are all very excited and can’t wait for the moment that you will hold that very small baby trying to unfold their tiny clenched fists.
However, before you do this, there are a few things that you should consider. Things that if you, ignore, you might not be as baby-friendly as you think or you might harm the baby accidentally and probably won’t be invited next time. The new mom may be too tired to notice or if she notices, she might not tell you for the fear of offending you.
So take this advice if you’re planning to visit a newborn.
10 Avoid Hot Drinks When Holding the Baby
As a new parent, there is nothing more terrifying and shocking than seeing a friend sipping hot coffee when holding your newborn. A new mother might have panicky thoughts like, “What if the mug slips off her hands? What if the baby hits it with its legs or hands? What if…?”
Endless questions will flow in the mother’s mind, of which the answers are not pleasant. Although you might think this is just first time mother worries, there is some legitimacy to their worries. You can’t control what the baby’s going to do, and babies have a tendency to move in their sleep.
Put yourself in their shoes
It’s not that you cannot have a cup of coffee; just don’t sip it while holding the baby. You can place your coffee or tea on the table and when you’re done holding the baby, then you can hold your cup of Joe.
9 Don’t Wake the Baby
If you arrive at the hospital and by bad luck the baby is sleeping, kindly don’t wake them up. You may be desperate to see those beautiful big eyes, but waiting for a while won’t hurt you. Take this time to chat with the mother and notice the joy she has, especially if she is a mom for the first time.
Remember it’s not only the baby that needs your attention; the mom may want to speak to some friends too, be there for her. Newborn babies sleep for as many as 18 hours a day, and this sleep is really important for development.
Let the baby sleep for as long as they need
Even after the newborn and parents return home, if you wake the baby, you risk upsetting the parents, especially if they have a colicky baby. But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit while the baby sleeps, or even hold the baby while they sleep, absolutely you can, just try not to wake the baby.
8 Don’t Visit if You’re Unwell
It’s the norm for us to be sick occasionally. What happens if you receive an invitation to come see the baby and co-incidentally, you are sick? I strongly advise you to kindly contact the new mom and cancel the visit.
If for some reason you’re embarrassed to say that you are unwell, it’s better that you come up with another more convincing story, but please don’t go see the baby. The newborn has not yet been exposed to any germs or infections. It’s wrapped up with some nice clean linen. Don’t be the first to expose them.
Even if it's just a cold, better not to give it to the baby
Since the new arrival hasn’t yet built their immune system up and you may be in doubt about whether you should visit while you have a cold, it’s better to wait a week or two. It’s true that babies grow up fast, but she won’t leave any time soon. They say patience pays.
7 Don’t Be Late
New parents are visited by many people who want to chat and cuddle the new born baby. They get tired and exhausted from all this company. They must make sure they have the energy to be awake and attend to all the visitors. So please show up on time.
If by any chance you are running late, please let them know as early as possible. That way they can get some rest or freshen up if they need to before you arrive. It’s also common courtesy to let your friends and family know that you won’t make it on time.
Let them know if you're going to be on time or not
Even if it’s two minutes before you’re supposed to arrive, a head’s up is better than your friend or family sitting around waiting and wondering where you are. You will never be judged on your promptness, but rather on your manners.
6 It’s Not Really Good to Bring Your Kids Along
Being a new mother is a bit like taking a break from reality. Her world has just been turned upside down and in the most wonderful way possible. Every moment is consumed with feedings, nappies and overwhelming love and care.
These brand new families exist in the warm, cozy bubble of their houses. They talk in soft voices, sing lullabies and walk around sleepily cradling their newborn babies. Nothing bursts that blissful bubble quite like the whirlwind of someone else’s children. No matter how lovely, well-behaved and gentle your children are, it is best not to assume they are invited.
Unless your children have been invited, best to leave them at home
While some new parents will want them to visit, others may prefer just to have adult guests for the first couple of weeks. Offer to leave your kids at home for your first visit, and see what the new parents say.
5 Don’t Smoke, It Can Wait
Please don’t smoke before or during the visit, even if you’re stepping outside. That’s because toxins will stay on your breath and clothing after smoking, plus smoking is bad for the baby’s health.
This transfer is called “third hand smoking”. When visiting a newborn, always make sure you are wearing fresh and clean clothes that don’t have a lot of perfume on them. Let the baby have the pleasure of enjoying fresh natural air.
Try not to smoke before visiting the baby
If you smoke in your home, even your clean clothes may smell of cigarettes so ask if you can borrow a blanket or something before holding the baby. You might think this is going overboard, but it’s better to be seen as sensitive rather than insensitive.
4 Don’t Forget to Wash Your Hands
Germs are not visible to the naked eye. You may look at your hands and think they’re clean, but most definitely a million and one minute germs are crawling there. Just think of all the things you’ve touched since you last washed your hands or applied a hand sensitizer, and then imagine passing all of those potential germs over to the new baby.
Please make sure you wash your hands before holding the new baby. Even with washed hands, kissing a baby on the lips or putting your fingers in the baby’s mouth is one of a new parent’s biggest pet peeves. This is as basic as it can get. It’s awkward for a mom or a dad to have to insist for guests who are other grown ups to wash their hands.
Cleanliness is best when it comes to babies
You obviously don’t want to be the reason the baby gets sick, so it’s a good idea to do it before the baby is placed in your arms. Introducing babies to a load of germs and giving their immune system a work-out is not your job. Give the mom some peace of mind that when you touch the new baby, you’re doing it with the cleanest possible hands, which is very easy; just wash your hands or carry your hand sensitizer which will come in handy at this moment.
3 Don’t Stare When She Breast Feeds
If she is a first time mother, then breast feeding is a new task too. The new mother and new baby are both learning new skills, and are very likely to encounter some difficulties along the way. Not all, of course, but some new mothers feel added pressure when other people are present during feeds.
Getting a newborn baby to latch on can be difficult, and the new mother may feel exposed with watching eyes in the room. I know that the curiosity is there, but try your best not to focus on her baby, but on her face. If you don’t, both of you will wind up feeling pretty uncomfortable.
Staring makes everyone uncomfortable
The key to being a good guest is to carry on as if nothing is happening. Keep chatting, not about the breastfeeding, and make sure you keep eye contact with the mother. Don’t make weird facial expressions that may make the mother think she is doing something wrong. Breastfeeding is natural and inbuilt, so just let it be and don’t consider it a big deal.
2 Don’t Give Unnecessary Advice
If you’re specifically asked for advice, then great, give it. If not, please do not join the hundreds of voices already telling these brand new parents how to do things ‘the right way’. Just listen, offer support, and know that if they want your advice, they’ll ask for it.
If you do your research well, you will realize that new parents receive “parenting advice” more often than they hear the baby cry in the first few months. Everybody has what they think is the right way to parent. Please keep your thoughts to yourself. If the mother wants them, she most definitely will ask.
Be supportive, not overbearing
If you ask her about the advice she’s received you both might get a good laugh at some of the ridiculous things people try to pass along. So don’t be that person, instead be the exception to the rule.
1 Don’t Expect the New Mother to Wait on You
It can be really exhausting for new parents if their visitors just sit down and expect to be fixed with drinks, meals or any other forms of hospitality. The newborn phase is a short, but intense one, and it can be really helpful if you offer to make the cups of coffee or tea, help out with lunch, or even better – bring food for everyone to share.
Tell the parents not to wait on you and tell them that you will get the snack and drinks. Believe me your friends or family will think you’re the best thing since sliced bread! New parents are the ones who need to be waited upon.
Let them know that you'll get anything you need yourself
It may seem a like you’re making yourself at home, but your friend or family will see it as supportive and nurturing. However, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we looked after new mothers and their partners in the community with the support they so desperately need? Maybe then, we could help reduce the unfortunate rate of 1 in 7 new mothers experiencing postnatal depression.