I was so happy when I recently received news that my best friend had her beautiful baby girl, the second addition to their family. Mother and baby were doing well and daddy and big brother were very proud.

Although it has been a year since my son was a newborn I remember those first few hours and days like it was yesterday. And it reminded me of the important etiquette when visiting a newborn baby.

I was absolutely shattered.

It was 38 hours from the time my waters broke to when our son arrived in the world looking like an alien, curled up in a blue ball and letting out his first wails of shock. I was put on an antibiotic drip which was in the most awkward place in the bend of my arm. I opted for the gas (amazing). I was given oxytocin (not so amazing). I got the epidural (both amazing and not so amazing). Doctors had to use forceps then tried manually to turn bubs, in the end I had to have a caesarean. To say I felt like death warmed up is an understatement. We managed to have some skin to skin time despite feeling like I had been out on the vino’s the night before, spew bag nestled conveniently by my shoulder for the ol’ turn and heave.

My husband, bless his thick wool blend work socks, excitedly called our parentals, brothers & sisters then proceeded to post all the required details on Facebook, including a picture of my exhausted self in all my ‘just had a baby after 38 hours I hope I get paid overtime for this’ glory, holding our bundle of sweet smelling newborn baby.

It was not long before the influx of well-meaning visitors began to steadily stream in. I hadn’t had a shower in 2 days, i still hadn’t brushed my teeth after being sick from the drugs, I had a catheter tube hanging out from between my legs and I felt like a smashed crab. Why on earth were people allowed to visit? WHY??!

Now back to the story of my best friend.

The little trooper popped her princess out before breakfast and the family was home by lunch time. Amazing right? Reminiscing about those first foggy newborn baby days I withheld the urge to immediately race over to their house and wrap my nose around that intoxicating new baby smell. However, by day 3 I had a text calling for my ear. Bestie needed a vent and I was ready and willing to assist.

Upon arrival I was greeted at the door by Daddy. I gave him a cheek kiss, bro hug and genuine “How are you feeling?” All was well on the daddy front.

I called out “And where is big brother? I want my cuddles!” Big brother was at daycare.

“Yo woman, where you at?!” was the callout given to my bff. Don’t worry, it was followed with “wow you look amazing, shut the front door you did not just give birth 2 days ago!” Hugs and kisses were given, coffee’s were made, I washed my hands and had a cuddle of their beautiful baby daughter then it was down to business. She vented and I listened and we came up with a list for people to use when visiting a family with a newborn baby. I was happy that I pretty much ticked all of them but hey, I’ve been there so I did know better this time!

1. Wash hands, dry thoroughly and repeat

When people come to visit a newborn baby they are naturally very excited and genuinely mean well when going straight past the parents and diving in for the cuddle with bubs, as happened with bff (vent #1). However with 95% of people not washing their hands correctly after using the toilet, I think it is safe to say it is fair for any new parent to ask all visitors to wash their hands properly before giving their new bubs some love.

2. Acknowledge ALL family members before the baby, especially siblings

Bff was worried people would leave out the older sibling and go straight for the baby. She told every person who visited that they are to say hello to their first born prior to saying hello to the baby and having a cuddle, after all they were here first! Apparently a few people were upset by this request (vent #2). I am sure most people would agree this is actually fair and to suggest otherwise is quite selfish. Agreed? Agreed.

3. Keep the germs away

I am quite certain this one does not need explaining but if it does; In the first 6-8 weeks of their life, babies have little to no antibodies which means they have a low immunity to everything including the common cold. Any possible sickness no matter how trivial it may seem could cause complications or even death for a newborn. Even a coldsore can have devastating effects on a newborn baby and you don’t even have to kiss them on the lips. Just don’t do it!

4. Send a text or call before you visit

Showing up un-announced (vent #4) even at the best of times is just plain rude. Always call and arrange a suitable time for a visit. Further to this, new parents don’t know it yet but they would prefer you skip the hospital visit and wait until they are settled at home and call you to come over. If you were me, not showered, carpet growing in your mouth, your guts feeling like a truck had exploded out of them with a tube coming out from your lady parts you wouldn’t want visitors in the hospital either.

5. Forget the flowers, bring me food!

This was quite a godsend for me personally. My neighbour came over bearing lasagne, hamburger patties and a salad. She gave me a hug, the baby a coo-chi-coo, did my dishes and left us to it. I was in no frame of mind to cook and clean. I was feeding a baby every 2 hours and trying to get sleep where I could. So, unless you come with mounds of food & pine-o-clean in your handbag please do not press that doorbell.

6. Hug like you don’t mean it

This is something people do not really think about but you need to know! Breastfeeding can initially be very painful whilst becoming established. Nipples are dry and cracked and the breasts are extremely sore and tender when the milk comes in. Please be gentle and hug softly, barely at all would be nice. You have no idea what having volcano’s for boobs feels like

Then I came up with a few more of my own:

7. Please keep your visit to within 1 hour

There is nothing worse than trying to nicely ask someone to leave when you are exhausted and struggling to form a sentence let alone be diplomatic about it. There is a rough routine to stick to and we don’t want to offend by asking you to please make your way home.

8. Be the host

You know where the fridge, kettle & food are. Get yourself a cuppa and the biccies and bring some in for us when you come back from the kitchen. Much obliged.

9. Please wait to be offered a cuddle with the baby...

For some new mothers their instinct to protect their baby is quite strong and may not feel comfortable having their baby passed around like a charity bowl in church. They can find it hard to say no when friends and family visit and may feel guilty, upset or anxious if they are pressured to pass the baby around.

10. …And know when to give the baby back

Have a quick cuddle then let the baby have time back with mum to resettle. If the baby cries whilst you are holding them offer bubs back immediately. Some mums and dads may be happy for you to settle their baby but it can make others anxious listening to their babies cry in the arms of another.

11. Mind your own business

This is just a friendly reminder to only say pleasant things. It doesn’t matter if they are formula feeding or breast feeding, using disposable nappies or modern cloth nappies, baby wearing or using a pram. Regardless if you disagree about their parenting choices just smile, nod and offer support because they are doing what works for them and it doesn’t concern you.

So these were the things I and my bestie felt most strongly about when visiting a newborn baby. Did you find it helpful? Do you have suggestions to add to the list?

Author

Kim is 29 years old. She has been with her husband for 15 years and married for 8. They have a son who is a cheeky toddler constantly testing their parenting abilities. She loves gardening, eating, bootcamp and sleeping. She hates rude people, alarm clocks and buying cards for presents.

310 Comments

  1. Elaine Smith Reply

    You have lost your calling Kimberley….you should have been a journalist…love your writing style and you have hit the nail on the head with all of the above suggestions!!! So proud of you!!!

  2. Good list! How about adding don’t kiss the baby – even anywhere on the head.

    • Thank you Donna. Yes I agree! I was always uncomfortable with that one too. More so knowing people had been sick only days earlier because they posted about it on facebook fishing for sympathy!

  3. angel maree Reply

    Big one for me… please dont let your child no mater what age pat baby on the head.. I always had a panic attacks when this would happen to my new born and still do with my nephew.

    • Not something ive ever heard of but ive just done a little reading about that and its interesting but scary. Thanks for letting us all know

    • I encouraged young visitors and older siblings to stroke baby’s arm or leg. That way I’m giving them a useful way that they can offer physical affection if they feel the need.

  4. Don’t wear perfume! Nothing worse then your newborn baby being cuddled by someone and rubbing their strong scented perfume off on them loosing your precious newborn baby smell!

    • Yes thats a good one! Or when a smoker cuddles baby and bubs comes back to you stinking of cigarette smoke. When i smoked years ago i had no idea it smelt so bad, now that i dont smoke its amazing how much smell rubs off! The first time i experienced that i wasnt shy to say no when they asked for a cuddle. Call me a bitch but i didnt want my baby stinking of ciggies, gross

  5. Fantastic post! I loved the flowers though – I felt so spoilt and it was nice to have a constant stream of them 🙂 But hell yeah, food was good too. Can I have both please?

    • Thank you. True, my bff did enjoy the flowers as well as the food ha ha. The second time around see didnt receive any flowers! I’m going to have to fix when i visit her next week 🙂

  6. Great advice Thanks for posting…..
    I have another one ( or more as it turns out!)…..Please other moms who visit….do NOT go into gory detail about your own birth experience when visiting….that is the last thing a new mom wants to hear about, and concentrate on the beautiful new baby and its’ amazing mom.
    Bring FOOD is excellent, specially an easy to heat yummy casserole and a tin of treats, biscuits or cake, so when other visitors arrive, new mom says help yourself to the kettle and there is a tin of ‘goodies’ to bring in with that cuppa please!
    A good friend who is a close friend, can offer to sweep and or wash the kitchen floor, or put a load of washing on as well!! All very appreciated and useful.
    BIG one is keep it short……and new mom….if people do stay on and on and on….close your eyes and / or yawn, it helps get the message through!!

  7. Pull the I’m a new mum pole out of your ass. Your baby isn’t gonna die if someone didn’t abide by your over the top commandments

    • Ha ha yeah i know, precious first born baby syndrome. Truth really is though shit happens. in QLD a baby did die from contracting the coldsore virus by someone kissing the baby when they really shouldn’t have. Sad but true & with more people succumbing to the anti vax hype and not immunizing their children or getting booster shots puts newborns at even more risk. Its OTT but in my opinion becoming essential to be more mindful around babies.

    • Ha ha precious newborn baby syndrome yes i know. Its hard to believe sometimes but these things do happen. A few weeks ago a QLD baby really did die from the coldsore virus, sad but true.
      Err on the side of caution and be respectful to new parents was my point really, seems fair doesn’t it?

    • Babies die of whooping cough. When adults have it sometimes the only symptoms are feeling run down and a tickle in the throat. So if staying away when unwell or not washing hands really well doesn’t happen then yes, the baby could get very sick or die. If it’s your baby you have the right to choose the rules.

    • Actually they might – especially the one where if you or someone close to you has been unwell stay away until the illness has passed. What’s a pretty harmless virus to an adult or older child can be fatal for a newborn. I will ALWAYS be happy to seem like an OTT new mum than risk my baby’s health.

    • my baby almost died as a newborn because someone gave her a common cold which turned into pneumonia. maybe you need to pull your head out of your ass?

    • I’m sure you won’t find it over the top if you are a parent yourself. Besides, there is no need to be all rude about it. Babies do die from viruses and all so check your facts!

    • Have u any idea of what can happen if bub is exposed to things before they are immunised…. They can die…end of story. I have four babes and I tell you having a cold and a newborn with a cold is so nerve racking, you can not even give them panadol till one month old.

    • Wow! I think this is one of the rudest and nastiest comments I’ve ever read!

    • A baby recently died from the cold sore virus at a couple of days old. Sorry if people want to remain vigilant and protect a new born baby?! I know is like my newborn to stay alive. …..

  8. I had my partners sister come around with her daughter and her daughter had bronchitis and my baby was 4 weeks old and I was told until they were leaving in which I think it accidentally slipped out

  9. When I had my son, if anyone stayed a little too long I just excused myself saying the baby needed feeding and then just didn’t come back. It sounds rude but some people just don’t get it, you are so exhausted in those first few weeks.

    • Oh man I really like this. Disappear off into your bedroom to feed but watch telly or take a nap. I’m definitely going to keep this one up my sleeve hehe

  10. My friend who is a mum herself suggested I buy some disposable plastic plates, cups and cutlery, that way there was less dishes to do in those first few week; was a brilliant idea and took it on board when I had my bubba.

  11. Also stocking up on the non perishable items so you don’t need to go shopping for a while after the baby is born. You can always send the hubby, mum or good friend to the shop for milk and cheese etc.

    • yep sure did! Happy to add this to the list 🙂 Thanks for the reminder! This happened to me also so I know where you are coming from! it has been 12 months since my son was a newborn though so it takes my poor brain some effort remembering this stuff 😉

  12. Found it .. no more than one hour… even that seems a long time in ‘newborn land’!

  13. Aimee Tatham Reply

    ‘Found It’ – I would say no more than a hour. All i wanted to do was rest and soak in the love of my bub! 🙂 such a special time

  14. Tess Di Pietro Reply

    Know when to hand the baby back and wash and dry hands thoroughly then repeat.

  15. Sounds easier for everyone to just email info, video, and pics and skip the visiting 🙂

  16. Day one : Dad, siblings (depending on health and age) and grandparents only.
    The baby’s Dad is the only one that should have a longer visit, but be careful not to overtire the Mum.. He wants to bond with his newborn too.
    Siblings and grandparents – short visits keeps to less than one hour.

  17. A relative of mine now has a 5 month old. I still ask if I can pick him up. Last time I was told I can pick him up any time unless told otherwise. If I think he is going to sleep I don’t touch him at all. I still wash my hands first. I stay right away from him if I even suspect I might have something I could pass on. I only go there by arrangement because I don’t drive for medical reasons. Two older children are now at school and parents work shift work.

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