Flashback: June of ‘18. Matt and I had just welcomed our first baby boy into the world. For me, like all mamas, it was a beautiful– yet raw, sleepless, hormonal, emotionally overwhelming– time. And painful, as one’s body recovers from vaginal or surgical birth, and breasts adjust to their new (constantly sore) normal. Then came the visitors! Of course you are happy to see them, you love them. But you KIND OF wish they all had a handbook listing basic (you’d assume) do’s and don’t’s of new baby visitation. I put my thoughts on my IG stories (now saved to a highlight on my page) & based on the impassioned response I got, I thought I’d also share here as well. Feel free to share with friends and family… Especially if you’re expecting, trust me, you’ll be glad that you did!
THEM’S THE RULES:
1) Do bring food, coffee, or smoothies for the whole fam. They’re housebound, so be sure to ask in advance what they’d like! If they say “nothing,” bring something anyway.
2) If you do bring a gift for the baby (not at all necessary!) PLEASE also bring a little something for any older children the couple also have. Older siblings are likely working through some complicated emotions, wondering if they’re still as cherished & important. Even a little dollar store gift will help assure them that they are.
3) If you feel AT ALL under the weather… RESCHEDULE!!! This includes a throat tickle, a runny nose, whatever. Don’t bring that crap to a brand new baby. And on that note— if you have toddlers (who pretty much constantly have runny noses/grubby hands/etc) ask the new parents if it’s ok if they join— don’t just assume. New infants have very weak immune systems & can get very sick very easily. New parents will be so, so grateful for your extra caution.
4) Wash your hands as soon as you come in! Don’t say “oh I just did.” Why choose to fight this battle and stress everyone out? Plus, your hands actually aren’t newborn-ready clean if you’ve touched your car door, steering wheel, front door handle, etc. etc. etc. since you last washed. Put the parents’ minds at ease and wash your hands again. Oh, and on a related note– DON’T wear tons of perfume or cologne! Regardless of how good you think you smell, that stuff is toxic and just plain annoying when it gets all over a newborn, and the reality that you likely won’t ever hear about is that the parents had to spend 30 minutes washing the baby after you left.
5) Don’t overstay! 30 minutes is great, an hour is tops.
6) If you hold the baby and the baby starts crying, GIVE THEM BACK!!! I can’t stress this one enough. This is not your time to prove that you can calm a crying baby— new mom is biologically programmed to HATE the sound of their baby crying and it causes immense anxiety to see them in distress and feel out of control. Tears?? Give. The baby. Back. To mom.
7) DO NOT kiss the baby on the face or hands!!! I honestly don’t understand why people think it’s ok to do this. As adults we have everything from random cooties to cold sores to chemical-laden lipstick that can pose a threat to a new baby. Plus— boundaries? If for some reason you MUST kiss the baby, keep it to the top of the head, please.
8) Keep any comments or observations about the baby aside from “they’re sooooo beautiful!” to yourself. No comments about any physical quirks (hello, most newborns look like aliens, but let the parents believe they are perfect) or anything else unhelpful. You’d think this would be basic common sense but… you’d think wrong!
9) Don’t think that you can ignore these tips because you’re part of the family, and not just a friend. The new parents ADORE YOU and can’t wait for you to be part of the baby’s life forever and ever! But they also crave sleep and quiet and time to process this huge shift in their reality, and family or not, you need to be considerate to your beleaguered loved ones during this delicate time.
10) Remember that this new baby isn’t about you. If the baby is sleeping so you don’t get to hold them this time… that’s quite ok. If you are told it’s “family only” for hospital visitation, or if you have been asked to hold off on visiting for a couple of weeks so the little family can get their bearings— please assure them that while you can’t wait to meet their child, that’s absolutely fine. It will take away the burden of the new parents having to figure out how to “handle you” during this already stressful time, and will make your eventual visit all the more welcome and positive.