One of the most miraculous and exciting events for many people is the welcoming of a new baby! Whether it is your own, your grandchild, your new niece or nephew, or a dear friend, it is a very exciting time and there are many people who would love to visit the newest addition right away. Being right in the middle of mothering young children, and being surrounded by new and pregnant moms on a daily basis, I know how overwhelming the whole process is. So, I would like to share some simple rules and etiquette to follow while visiting that brand new baby (and their parents, too!).
This has also been an odd year. Covid-19 has been around now for just over a year and we’ve seen a huge shift in what is expected, what is necessary and what can be done with regards to pregnancy, delivery, raising children and living life amid all this chaos. Parents not only need to adjust to a new life with baby, they need to also figure out their views on the coronavirus and how it will impact their family. Will they allow guests? If so, will guests be allowed to hold the baby? Under what circumstances? If no guests – for how long? Dealing with this pandemic looks different to everyone, and we need to be respectful of their needs/views. What we do know is that new parents need support – and lots of it! If it can’t be in person, then hop on a video chat or call them to check in. Can you imagine raising a child in this?
1. New parents need time to bond!
I have personally experienced the negative side of what happens when a new mom does not get the chance to bond with her little one, and it ain’t pretty. Pre-Covid, immediately following the birth of my daughter, both our families showed up, some friends, and even some co-workers. The only time I got to hold my own child was to breastfeed, and that wasn’t going well (this is a story for whole other day).
On top of the new mom hormones and breastfeeding not going well, having to share the cuddles with my fresh baby was intensely challenging. Be very mindful (even if you are a Grandma!) of how the new parents seem to be bonding with their little one, always ASK to hold the baby before assuming you can, and always make sure the parents are the ones comforting the baby, unless they ask you to.
2. New parents are tired!
No matter what time of day the baby is born, the parents of this new child probably haven’t slept for weeks pending their newest family member’s arrival. No sleep + a new mom pushing a human child out + dad standing by her the whole time being strong and positive = tired and overwhelmed people.
Keep the lines of communication open. Shoot a text to see when the parents are ready for visitors. Or, even better, ASK if they need anything! Do you need groceries, your house cleaned, a lunch to-go delivered from your favorite restaurant and leave it at your front door? Bringing a meal to a new family can be a complete game changer for them after a long day!
3. Germs! [+pandemic]
This actually may be the most important one for a lot of new parents. Babies are super susceptible to many illnesses. Their lives are very sensitive and fragile while they are so new. Breastfed babies will have a slight advantage since they get antibodies and immunity passed on from their mothers, but we still want to keep them safe. This current pandemic has heightened all our senses, and has greatly changed our sense of community and how we welcome babies. If a new family is receiving guests to meet their newborn, please mask up! Even if you don’t share the beliefs of the new family, be kind and respectful of their new bundle. There are so many unknowns regarding newborns and Covid-19, it’s best to play it safe and prevent the spread of unwanted germs/disease. A few other tips:
- Definitely do not go near the baby, mom, or their home if you are sick! Even if you’re not sick, you may be carrying around germs.
- WASH your hands (or sanitize), if after you have asked and the parents are okay with you holding the baby. PLEASE don’t make them have to ask you. They are already going through a lot, and the last thing they should have to do is ask you to wash your hands.
- Do not kiss the baby. This may be the hardest and most unnatural thing to do, but avoid spreading germs this way. A mask helps reduce the urge also 🙂
4. Feeding the baby
This is a very sensitive topic, and one that is no one’s business but the baby’s and baby’s new parents. So first of all, do not inquire about their feeding choices, and second of all, do not weigh in your opinion. If you are visiting and mom mentions it is time to feed the baby, that is your cue to head out, unless otherwise directed.
Breastfeeding, whether it be baby #1 or baby #25, poses many challenges and emotions for new parents, and it is TIME CONSUMING. Don’t put unneeded pressure on the new parents by making them move to a different room or waiting while they finish…it may be over an hour.
If formula/bottle feeding, it is still such an important bonding time for the new parents and their child. Unless they offer, do not ask to feed the baby.
5. The new family needs help!
The new family may need help around their house, help with meals, help with other children or just someone to listen. If you offer any kind of help, it would probably be very appreciated. It is hard to ask for help, especially in our country, where everyone feels the need to be okay all the time or be independent. These present times are something we never dreamed would ever happen and yet here we are.
Anxiety, depression and suicide rates are up, drastically! Even the smallest gesture like a phone call/video chat, a gift card for take-out at a restaurant, gift card for house cleaning services, or a full on house cleaning you do yourself (if you ask the new parents if that would be ok to be at their house) would help the family tremendously.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and I hope people consider how to behave around new parents. If you learned nothing else from this post…just think of these few rules:
- Always mask up (and sanitize!)
- Always wash your hands (and sanitize!) before holding a new baby, and do not kiss the baby.
- Bring food or clean or entertain other children if you plan on visiting. You don’t want to overwhelm the new parents by needing to be entertained.
- Limit your visit to no more than 30 minutes, unless you are doing one of the afore-mentioned tips in rule #2 🙂