I have a couple of friends due to give birth soon and it’s got me thinking about the do’s and don’ts of visiting new parents and their bubs. When to visit, what to bring, how long to stay, bringing children along … This is certainly a time when you want to tread lightly and be the perfect guest so I’ve put together my list of do’s and don’ts for visiting a new baby.
I know that when I have had both of my babies I have been very protective, highly emotional and tend to want to cocoon myself at home with my family and keep guests to an absolute minimum. So when friends have babies I always treat them exactly how I want to be treated in that delicate newborn period and follow these guidelines.
1. Don’t be in a rush to visit. The first week or so after giving birth is an intensely emotional time. Hormones are going haywire, mum is up and down like a yo-yo and tears can be frequent. She’s healing from running the marathon that is giving birth, possibly recovering from surgery or a tear, if it’s not her first baby she will be having after birth pains (which are bloody painful!), the list goes on. She’s also learning to breastfeed, trying to nap, and hopefully enjoying that precious time with her partner and any older children getting to know their new family member. So leave them to it. Unless you are immediate family then don’t visit in the first week (or even two). Send a message letting her know that you would love to visit in a couple of weeks when they have settled in and are feeling up to it. Then in a couple of weeks you can enquire about whether they are ready for a quick visit or not, or simply wait to be invited. Drop a meal on their door step if you want to help, but resist the urge to go inside.
2. When you do visit, be a useful guest. Take a meal – something nourishing like a soup or slow cooked stew, fold a load of washing while you chat to mum, make her a cup of tea, do the dishes, and play with older children please!
3. Let her pick the time and don’t be late! She may have timed your visit around naps / feeds etc so don’t mess with the plan.
4. Don’t ask to hold the baby! If she doesn’t mind you having a hold then she might offer, but there’s a large chance that she may prefer to keep her baby with her while you visit. So don’t assume that you’re going to have a hold. And if you do get lucky and get a cuddle, make it brief and then hand baby back to mum.
5. Don’t wear perfume or scented body lotion when you visit. This rule is a little strange I know, but if you hold the baby, you will rub your perfume off onto it and then hand it back smelling like you, which is annoying. A baby should smell like a baby, not Chanel no.5 and mum doesn’t want to be sniffing you on her babe all day long. Not to mention the fact that perfume is full of nasties that shouldn’t be anywhere near a baby’s delicate skin. Also, don’t kiss the baby please. Thanks.
6. If you hold the baby, do not drink a hot cup of tea at the same time. This will freak mum the F out!
7. If the baby fusses while in your arms GIVE IT STRAIGHT BACK! Never try to settle a crying baby yourself, always, I repeat, ALWAYS hand it back to mama because her heart will be going a million miles an hour at the mere sound of her baby’s cry. You’re not doing her a favour by trying to sooth it yourself.
8. Don’t bring children. Possibly the absolute last thing that new mum wants is for your three year old to be kissing or God forbid, holding her new baby. A toddler running around touching everything and upsetting the peace and quiet is not a welcome guest. The only exception to this rule is that if your child is still a baby itself, then maybe they can tag along if you’re not able to leave them at home, but don’t bring toddlers or older kids for that first visit please.
9. If you’re feeling even slightly under the weather, stay away! Even if someone in your household is sick, but you’re feeling fine, stay away. A simple cold can land a newborn in hospital so please don’t risk it!
10. Keep it brief. A quick 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb for your first visit. Yes that’s basically no time at all and you’ll want to stay longer, but don’t.
That’s it folks! I certainly know I can be quite pedantic but I really believe this is a time when you need to tread gently and put the new mum, bub and their needs first. Soon they’ll be out of the newborn bubble and you’ll be good to arrive on their door step unannounced at any time of day! (Not really, please don’t do that).
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