Newborn Etiquette: 101
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, being pregnant, 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!).
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. Immediately at the hospital, 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. 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 plus new mom pushing a human child out plus dad standing by her the whole time being strong and positive equals 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?
This actally may be the most important one for a lot of new parents. Babies are super susceptible to illness. Their lives are very sensitive and fragile while they are so new. #1, 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. #2, WASH your hands, 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. Lastly, do not kiss the baby. This may be the hardest and most unnatural thing to do, but avoid spreading germs this way.
4. Feeding the baby
This is a very sensitive topic, and one that is no one's business but 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 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. 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. Even a gift card to a to-go 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 wash your hands before holding a new baby, and do not kiss the baby
- Bring food or clean or entertain other children if you plan on visiting
- Limit your visit to no more than 30 minutes, unless you are doing one of the afore-mentioned tips in rule #2 :)