The arrival of a newborn baby is one of life’s most joyful and celebrated moments. As friends and family, it’s only natural to want to rush in and meet the precious little one! However, there are some important guidelines to follow, specifically these 10 Crucial Rules for Visiting a Newborn, when visiting a newborn so that you don’t end up ruining the special moment or causing undue disruption or stress.
As a mom of three beautiful babies myself, I’ve made just about every newborn visiting mistake over the years. Take it from me – you’ll want to carefully abide by these 10 crucial visiting rules, both to respect the new mom etiquette during this delicate time and also give your new little buddy the gentlest start to life outside the womb!
Rule #1: Wait for an Invitation Before Dropping In
I know the excitement makes you want to rush right over and squeeze those cute little cheeks. But hold your horses! After going through the monumental challenge of labor and delivery, both mom and baby need plenty of privacy, skin-to-skin bonding time, and chances to recuperate.
As a rule of thumb, wait until the parents explicitly invite you over to visit before showing up unannounced. This gives them time to settle in, establish breastfeeding, get some naps under their belt, and start feeling up to hosting guests.
Remember – it’s not about you or your excitement. Visits should happen on the new family’s timetable. If they want visitors right away, they’ll let you know! Respect their space if they’d prefer to lie low for a couple weeks before allowing visitors.
Rule #2: Keep That First Visit Short!
Once invited over those first couple weeks, I cannot emphasize this enough – keep the length of your very first newborn visit to less than 10 or 15 minutes! I know you want to snuggle that little bundle for hours, but resist the urge.
In those early days, mom is utterly exhausted, still healing from delivery, and trying to learn the ropes of breastfeeding, soothing baby, and catching a wink when she can. Don’t get offended if she wants you to stick to a short timeframe. It’s not personal – she simply needs to focus all her energy on recovery and caring for a helpless newborn 24/7. Show you empathize with the monumental journey she just went through.
Promise her now that you’ll come visit again soon. Then keep your visit super short and sweet before heading out to let her rest.
Rule #3: Hold Off on Visiting If You’re Sick!
This one is non-negotiable. If you’ve got so much as the sniffles, do NOT go anywhere near a vulnerable newborn baby or exposed postpartum woman! As tempted as you might be to power through and visit anyway, I cannot stress enough that this is hazardous.
A minor cold that’s no big deal for you can quickly turn life-threatening if passed to a tiny newborn with zero immunity built up yet. You also don’t want to get the new mom sick if she needs her strength to nurture 10 Crucial Rules for Visiting a Newborn and breastfeed that baby full time!
If you have any contagious symptoms at all – cold, flu, fever, etc, – or recently got a live vaccine, postpone your visit plans. Wait until all contagious symptoms clear plus an extra few days to allow residual germs to pass. This goes for siblings too – leave older germ-spreading kids at home until the baby is bigger and less fragile!
As hard as it is waiting when you’re so eager, visitation patience is crucial here! Promise the new mom you’ll plan a visit once illness risk has safely passed.
Rule #4: Come Bearing Gifts for BOTH Mom and Baby
It feels instinctual to want to spoil and shower gifts onto the new little prince or princess. Yet we often forget an even more deserving new parent – the brave mama warrior who just grew and birthed that beautiful child!
By all means, bring a special baby outfit, toy, or keepsake if you like. But I also recommend having gifts on hand specifically for nourishing and pampering that postpartum mama. After all she’s been through, she deserves some spoiling and comfort too!
Ideas for useful new mom gifts: snacks or frozen meals she can easily heat up one-handed, gift certificates for food delivery when she’s too exhausted to cook, comfy robes and slippers to relax in postpartum, luxurious skin creams to pamper her recovering body, audiobooks or magazines for when baby is cluster feeding, etc. Essentially, give her gifts enabling self-care!
Rule #5: Avoid Too Much Commotion and Stimulation
It’s only natural wanting to fuss and “ooh” and “ahh” excitedly over a newborn. But whether you visit the hospital or their home, remember one of the worst things you can do is overstimulate baby’s delicate sensory system!
Those early weeks are all about helping infants ease into the bright noisy outside world after 9 months cocooned in a dark, warm, muffled womb. Avoid loud voices, big gestures, exposing baby to television, phone screens, or celebrating siblings. All this can stress baby out when they crave dim, calm environments with familiar sounds like parents’ voices and heartbeat.
Enjoy your special moment with the newborn, but softly and gently. Swaddle them snugly, speak in hushed gentle tones, maybe sing a sweet lullaby. This sensory care early on provides lifelong brain and nervous system benefits helping them better adjust to the world.
And pro tip – if baby is napping during your scheduled visit, either tiptoe out and come back later or relax quietly with mom until they wake!
Rule #6: Keep Germ Exposure Low Through Hand Hygiene
Yes, we covered delaying visits if actively sick. But anytime you visit a newborn, also beware asymptomatic germ spread! Our hands pick up germs everywhere we go.
Before touching or holding baby, rigorously wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 full seconds. Rub vigorously including backs of hands, between fingers, and under nails where germs lurk. Hand sanitizer alone doesn’t kill certain stubborn germs.
If baby recently had their circumcision or umbilical cord stump handled, wash hands again before touching there. Try also removing shoes upon entering and consider wearing a mask near baby those first couple months.
Every germ exposure risk mitigation helps their developing immunity. This strict hand hygiene guidance applies to siblings and any visitors. We adults sometimes forget kids’ hygiene – so monitor their hand cleaning too!
Rule #7: Follow Parents’ Cradling Guidance
Despite that insatiable new baby cuddle urge, recognize not all new parents feel comfortable letting others hold their fragile infant right away. Always ask the parents first before reaching out to pick up baby. Do not just grab assuming it’s okay!
If welcomed to hold the swaddled bundle, follow any instructions carefully about supporting neck, avoiding certain touches that may make baby fussy, and bringing baby back to mom immediately at any signs of discomfort. They know baby’s unique needs best!
If bottle feeding baby, ask if they’d prefer only parents provide bottles until breastfeeding is well established – which can easily be disrupted if others sneak in bottle feeds. Respect overprotective policies that make sense for that child!
And if older kids visit, ensure gentle and safe interactions with the newborn only under parent’s supervision every second. Some parents understandably don’t feel safe with kids holding newborns unassisted.
Rule #8: Help Out New Moms in Appropriate Ways
Visiting a struggling new mom unable to even shower makes our helper instinct kick into high gear! But beware overstepping bounds with unsolicited advice or help. Every parent has their own approach.
Don’t assume your preferred way on sleep training, feeding schedules, etc is right for them. Listen more than speak and follow parents’ lead on what helps most right now.
If tension sensed, offer help once then back graciously away if declined. Suggest things like, “Can I fold some laundry while you nurse?” or “What takeout sounds good tonight my treat?”
Little lifeline help without judgment is usually welcomed if they feel in control. But amidst new parenting flurry, they may not know what helps, so patient open-ended offers give them room to accept support on their own time.
Rule #9: Don’t Post Photos Without Permission
We instantly want to capture and share cute newborn images online! But for some parents, safety concerns around baby’s photographed face circulating before they even first share images themselves.
Others worry scammers or marketers capitalizing on a baby’s cute likeness. Every parent has different comfort levels here regarding newborn privacy.
Unless parents explicitly okay it, do not take or share images with the newborn’s face – not even quick shots texted just to family. Baby images spread fast on social media, easily getting into wrong hands.
Seek family’s consent preferences upfront before photographing their child. Let them reveal sweet baby pictures if and when they are ready!
Rule #10: Check Back In After Things Settle!
If that very first frazzled newborn visit required brevity to not overwhelm the tired new parents, don’t disappear!
Once settled into a rhythm around 6-8 weeks, checking in again lets you provide concrete support they desperately need then. After initial visits and meals taper off, isolation and exhaustion often peak.
Reach back out around the 2 month mark and offer your support. See if they need help around the house now that relatives left, a homecooked meal, or just a smiling friend to visit her and the baby again post-chaos.
Having your ongoing assistance through the enduringly tough postpartum period will mean the world, forging lifelong bonds between you, the new parents, and baby.
Welcoming a newborn is profound yet delicate for families. While eager to meet baby ourselves, following these 10 newborn visit rules helps ensure your visit leaves new parents feeling supported, cared for, and empowered early on their parenting journey.
Respect their space. Attune to their needs. Lend help when appropriate. Mitigate extra burdens. Support mental health. And baby and family will appreciate your friendship now more than ever!
FAQ – 10 Crucial Rules for Visiting a Newborn
How long should I wait before visiting a newborn baby?
It’s best to wait until the parents explicitly invite you over to visit. Usually this will be at least a few weeks after the baby is born, as the parents need privacy for bonding time and to establish breastfeeding routines. Unless they proactively ask you to visit earlier, assume the parents will contact you when they feel ready for visitors.
What if the parents only allow a short first visit with the newborn?
It’s very common and understandable for tired, recovering new parents to limit first visits with their fragile newborn to less than 10-15 minutes. Don’t take offense if they want your visit to be short – instead promise to come back another day when they’ve gotten more rest. Be respectful of their needs during this delicate period.
Can I post pictures of the newborn on social media?
Do not share photos or details about the newborn online unless you have the parents’ explicit permission. Many parents have safety and privacy concerns about images of their baby circulating, so you should discuss and obtain their consent before taking or distributing any pictures. Respect the family’s preferences.
What are some useful things I can do to help new parents out?
Offer specific helpful gestures like dropping off meals they can easily reheat, helping out around the house with chores, running errands for them, gifting certificates for food delivery when they’re too exhausted to cook, etc. Ask what would be useful instead of assuming. Sometimes just providing reassurance and a listening ear is most helpful at this busy time.
How can I interact gently with a newborn during visits?
Keep voices soft and movements slow and gentle when around a newborn. Support their head and neck if cradling them. Follow parents’ guidance about specific calming techniques for their baby. Avoid overstimulation from loud noises, device screens, or celebrating siblings. Be soothing and let the baby lead when interacting.