Going To Visit A New Baby? Read This First
It’s been almost four months since I had my son. And a little over 2 and a half years since I had my daughter. And in both of these experiences, I have found some “rules” I’d like to share for when someone is visiting a new baby. Just some observations that I (personally) have made that I think some moms might agree with.
1) Sanitize the hell out of your hands. Make a big show of it. I’m talking up to your armpits type of cleaning. The last thing a new mom wants to worry about is where someone’s hands have been. Did that person touch something gross, or come into contact with someone who is sick? Ew maybe they just picked their nose? Just, please. Sanitize your hands.
2) Ask the new parents (specifically the mom) before bringing your kids, or any other visitors over. I know when both my kids were newborns, I was in such a “survival” state of mind that I had to kinda psych myself up for visitors because I was just trying to keep everything together and keep the new baby happy. So if someone said they were coming over but declined to mention that meant their entire family? I would get super overwhelmed, the baby would either sense this, or also be overwhelmed by all the new voices and smells. And the visit would quickly turn from a fun & happy visit to a pretty stressful mess. Just ask the mom ahead of time.
3) Bring food or coffee. Yes, the new parents are the ones who made the baby. So it’s not necessarily anyone else’s responsibility to help out. But if someone is willing to walk into the new family’s sleep deprived, we’re-just-taking-it-day-by-day-survival mode home, they can bring the new parents at least one of these items.
4) Stay no longer than one to two hours. By that time I’m sure the new baby is over it. And the new mom is getting over it. (No matter if you’re the cousin, best friend or uncle) because they are still getting into a new routine. And I’m sure they want some time alone with their new family. Time to just walk around the house in sweatpants & a sports bra & not be in “entertainment mode”.
5) Offer to hold the baby and let the new mom shower, nap, do the dishes etc. Now, the key word here is “offer”. Some moms might really appreciate this. Some moms just want to talk, as they’ve been around their husband and new baby all day & night and want a change of pace. It’s up to her. Don’t push it though. Remember, hormones and a severe lack of sleep. And there’s a brand new baby she’s trying to figure out! Makes for a pretty emotional time.
6) Do NOT come over if you’re sick. Or think you’re sick. Or think you’ve maybe even been exposed to someone sick, or have the slightest inkling of anything involving the word “sick”. You would think this one would be obvious but apparently it’s not.
7) Now this isn’t a must, but I like to bring a “sibling present” if there’s an older child in the family. Why? Because the older child probably feels pretty overwhelmed with this new huge change, maybe a little left out or jealous; and it’s nice to give both kids presents so the older one isn’t on the sidelines watching the baby be showered with gifts & attention. And it doesn’t have to be big, even a small book or container of chalk can produce a huge smile.
8) Hand the baby back if he/she begins to cry. Seriously, you will only annoy the heck out of the new mom if you try to comfort that baby yourself. You aren’t going to impress the mom with your comforting skills by pulling this stunt. With both of my kids there has always been that one person to sway and bounce their way around my house, shushing and singing to my crying baby in a weird admittedly trying-to-be-helpful attempt to calm my baby. I can distinctly remember feeling so stressed out and agitated by my baby’s rising cries that it felt like my skin was crawling. Both times I found my mama voice and politely (strongly) insisted to be handed my baby back. I mean look, you’re not gonna win a damn award at baby soothing. So hand the baby back to mom and let them do their thing. Again, this is all new for them! Hearing her baby cry but not being able to hold her baby is like nails on a chalkboard for her. Unless the mom ASKS you to comfort the baby, I wouldn’t suggest doing so on your own accord.
9) If you take a picture of the baby, make sure to ask the mom before posting to any social media account. I personally am fine with my friends or family posting pictures of my kids on their accounts, but I know some parents who would be livid or very upset. And that’s their right. It’s their child.
10) Don’t ask to visit during the first week. Now this is just my own personal experience, but for both of my kids, the first week home was always the hardest and most emotional. By the second week we had started figuring out our new routine and I was a lot more excited and ready for company.
*Note: there are obviously exceptions to these “rules”. For example: many new parents want their parents to stay with them the first week(s). When we brought my son home from the NICU, he almost had to be re-admitted into the hospital because his jaundice levels kept rising. So we had to rent a bili blanket from a medical supply company, which was a nightmare to accomplish between the insurances arguing with each other and the timeline we were given for his jaundice levels (we were told if we didn’t get the blanket by the following morning, we would have to admit him back into the hospital). When we finally did get the bili blanket, it was 1am. Thank God my in laws were staying with us for the week. And thank God for my parents bringing us meals, and for both sets of parents watching over my daughter as my husband and I waded through that stressful nightmare with our son. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you just have to handle it as best as you can. And always, you’ve got this Mama.