When a new baby arrives, it's such an exciting time not just for the parents but for family and friends too. It may be your first grandchild or you have become an aunt and you are so excited to see the little one.
Working as a maternity nurse and being in the family home, I have seen first hand how stressful visitors can be for some parents, so please bear these points in mind when visiting a newborn baby.
Pre arrange visits
Please don't just pop in unannounced, unless of cause you were specifically asked to do so. Always pre arrange your visits with the parents and accept that sometimes these visits may need to be rearranged. Some parents have a bigger circle of family and friends or may choose to have less visitors per week. So please be patient whilst waiting. I 'm sure that parents will send you a photo if you ask.
Try to arrive on time, the parents will have probably chosen the time specifically fo fit around their day.
Keep visits short
Remember new parents haven't had much sleep, so don't overstay your welcome. Don't expect exhausted parents to make you a drink and entertain you. Offer to make drinks yourself, or better still arrange ahead and bring drinks/ coffees with you for everyone. Or say "no, I have just had one thank you, but I can make you one" usually works well.
Always wash/sanitise your hands before holding the baby, don't wait to be asked to do this, parents are exhausted or they may feel uncomfortable asking friends/ relatives to wash their hands before holding the baby. Also, cover your clothes with a muslin if you are invited to hold the baby.
Respect parents wishes
Don't assume that you will be able to hold the baby just because you are visiting. Mum may be feeding the little one or doesn't want the baby disturbed if they have only just settled in the cot. Please respect parents wishes, even if their decisions are different from what you did or would do, we are all have different parenting styles.
For new parents, especially first time parents, they may still be learning, that's part of their parenting journey. So don't offer unsolicited advice unless they specifically ask for your advice or input. And remember that many things have changed over the last few years. So what you did 30 years ago with your baby may not be relevant now.
Don't kiss The Baby
I know that you are probably really exciting to hold the baby. But please don't kiss the baby anywhere, but especially on the lips or face. Their immunity is low and our germs are too big for their tiny bodies.
Ask permission to take photos of the baby, don't just assume it's OK.
Do not share photos or information on social media or with other people without asking permission from the parents.
Please keep in mind for older siblings, that this is a big transition for them. Be mindful if the older children are around. If you have brought a gift for the baby maybe suggest that they can open it, or bring them a token gift for being the best big brother or sister. Maybe take the parents lead on what they would prefer.
New parents love and appreciate gifts for the baby. But there is only so many dressing gowns a baby needs. Either you can ask if there is anything specific that the baby needs. Or check that there is a good return policy and please don't be offended if parents need to change your lovely gift for whatever reason.
Whilst you are there and if you have time, offer to help. Wash a few dishes in the sink or volunteer to take the dog for a walk or anything else that might help them.
Don't forget about Mum
Mum has just given birth and is still recovering during the postnatal period. Maybe bring coffee and cake or some flowers. Or even a small personal gift to show that you are thinking of her and not just coming to see the new baby.
If you are a smoker, please don’t smoke just before going to visit a newborn baby. Also avoid strong smelling perfumes.
Postpone your visit
Probably one of the most important is to NOT visit a baby if you feel unwell in anyway. I know that you have probably been really looking forward to seeing the baby. But please don't, maybe arrange a video call instead and postpone the actual visit until you are feeling well.
If you are unsure of what you should do just ask the parents and follow their lead. Nobody wants to be known as the "dreaded visitor." So try and make the visit as enjoyable and stress free for the new parents as possible.
For new parents
Please feel free to send this article to family and friends prior to them coming to visit the new baby.