Welcoming a baby into the household is an exciting time for any family, but the days afterward can be a stressful period as the parents and siblings, if there are any, adjust. When you’re dropping by to see a brand-new parent, it’s important to take some rules into consideration. Below is a suggested list of tips on the basics of newborn etiquette for meeting a new arrival.
Newborn Baby Etiquette at the Hospital:
Unless you’ve prearranged a visit, it’s best not to connect with mom and baby at the hospital. They are both being monitored around the clock so sleep might be hard to come by, and mom might be feeling fragile and uncomfortable after labor. If you plan on sending gifts to the hospital, stay away from over-sized stuffed animals, fragrant flowers, and any large packages because they can be cumbersome to bring home. Instead, opt to send balloons, healthy food packages, body balms, or even a gift card and a lovely note.
Schedule Visits with New Parents in Advance:
It’s important not to visit unprompted, and instead, wait until the mom and baby have been discharged from the hospital. At that point, you can reach out to her partner/mother/friend and inform them that you’re interested in stopping by, and wait for their go-ahead. Keep in mind this is a busy time for the family so don’t push for a visit if they don’t respond right away.
When planning the encounter, abide by the mother’s schedule and inquire about when a drop-by will be convenient. It’s also a good idea to call and check-in prior to leaving your home to make sure that the logistics haven’t changed. During the call, you can offer to pick-up any household items that might have run out. Take care to arrive a few minutes early, keep the visit under an hour, and don’t wear out your welcome. Remember that infant care is a mother’s number one priority, so if she begins breastfeeding or it’s nap time, step away to give her some privacy. Trying to nurse an infant or put him or her down to sleep can be extra stressful if there is an audience present.
Don’t Come Empty-Handed: Easy Meals for New Moms
Arriving with a casserole, chicken and vegetable soup, or ready-to-heat pasta is a big help, especially if you bring it in a disposable tray so the parents don’t have to clean up afterward. You can also bring baby supplies such as a pack of diapers, wipes, or formula. If there is an older sibling, you may want to bring something for them as well.
Newborn Care Basics: Practice Good Hygiene
When preparing for your visit, stay away from perfumes and any fragrant scents as babies can be sensitive to certain smells. Wash your hands upon arrival. New moms are protective of the newborn so unless invited to do so, don’t pick up the baby. If you do end up holding the infant, don’t kiss him or her. Never visit a new arrival if you’re sick, even if it’s just the sniffles. Babies haven’t developed strong immune systems, and are vulnerable to illness. If you arrive and the baby is asleep, don’t wake up the baby or expect the parents to wake him or her up.
Additionally, bringing other young children with you on your visit simply adds more germs and outside bacteria the newborn has yet to build up immunity against. Not to mention new moms need a low-stress environment and young children can be loud and sometimes forget to use their ‘inside voice.’
How to Help First Time Parents:
If you notice dirty dishes in the sink, pitch in and clean them. Giving the kitchen a quick wipe down, tidying up the living room, or vacuuming will free up time for the family, and be a big help. If you think she’ll be uncomfortable about you tidying up, ask a specific question, i.e, ‘I would love to (insert chore) for you, is that okay?’ rather than simply inquiring ‘Can I do anything?’ You can also offer to babysit for an hour or two so that parents can spend time alone together, catch up on sleep, go outside, etc.
If either parent asks you if you want a glass of water or something to eat, politely decline the offer. Parents have enough on their plate without serving visitors. Instead, go to the kitchen and offer to make a drink for everyone.
Remember Why You Are There:
Ask the parents how they’re holding up but don’t pry. Offer your support, and be sure to only say nice things. Avoid offering unsolicited advice, or pushing a particular parenting view. All new parents lack a certain degree of confidence during the early days and can feel hyper-sensitive to any feedback or comments. If asked for feedback, feel free to contribute with your ideas, but do so in an empathetic, non-judgmental manner. When visiting, your phone should be kept on silent and in your purse. Don’t ask for a group selfie or try to take a picture of the baby. The parents themselves reserve the right to if any photos of their newborns will live on-line and on social media feeds, this is not the decision or privilege of visitors and friends.
Expecting A New Addition to the Family?
Our nannies and baby nurses specialize in infant care, and possess an in-depth knowledge of the developmental stages of newborns. For parents expecting a new addition to their family, contact the Nanny Authority via e-mail or at 973-466-2669 to learn more about the support and resources that we offer.