Etiquette when visiting a newborn

By 10:45

Before The Great Butchering, I knew I didn't want people visiting me at home with a newborn.  I totally knew how stressful it would be so I opted to ask people to visit me at the hospital instead. It didn't quite work. I still had a ton of visitors at the hospital and at home. In hindsight, I would have preferred fewer guests but people love babies and close friends and family want to welcome my baby into the world with us. 

Seven weeks later, I can definitely offer up some advice when it comes to visiting a newborn. Some of these are common sense and some I was not aware of and may have made a few of these faux pas myself before my baby was born. Here are my dos and don'ts.

Oh and all of these are based on my real life events. I shit you not!

1. Sanitise
It's like people forget about basic hygiene when they see something cute. That cute little thing is brand new with clean slate for an immune system. Yeah you may think your hands are clean but you've touched numerous things since that could make a little baby sick.

Instead: Visit the bathroom to wash your hands before touching the baby. The over paranoid mom will love you and will definitely want to have you over again.

2. Don't visit if you're sick I mean surely people know this. Most people I know back away when someone with the sniffles walks past. So why, in God's name, do you saunter your germs in the presence of a newborn and proceed to play with it?

Instead: If you're close to the parents, tell them that you really wanted to visit but don't want to make their baby sick. Visit when you're feeling better. The hoards of visitors would have dissipated by then and the parents would have had a better hang on parenting making your visit a lot more fun.

3. Actually BE helpful with your advice I remember struggling with a screaming baby in the hospital. People would give me well meaning advice like "you should swaddle him tightly", "stroking his cheek will calm him down" and "maybe he's hungry". Or the retrospective advice like when I found out I starved Squeak: "I knew that child was hungry". Shut the fudge up!

Instead: I had no idea what I was doing, I was overwhelmed and I'd probably never remember your advice at the appropriate time anyway. How about you actually help like showing me how to swaddle him tightly or stroking his cheek so that he calms down? You think he's hungry? How about leaving so I can awkwardly attempt feeding him. And as for your retrospective advice, instead of being a condescending cow, why didn't you help AT THE TIME. For example you could have asked if you could assist me in seeing how the baby latches.

4. Don't overstay your welcome

My social butterfly nature loves company. My sleep deprived state doesn't. If you must visit in those early days and all you're doing is a social visit, keep it short. I very often delayed my crying baby's feed so that visitors could have some time with him. (The assholes kept playing with a screaming newborn instead of offering for me to appropriately attend to him but it's my fault for being nice so lesson learnt.) And when I did have "free" time, I needed sleep.

Instead: Keep your visit short and ask the parents what time is convenient for them. Friday after work might not work for new parents trying to figure out a bedtime routine.  Remember, in just a few weeks (and for the rest of its life), you'll have plenty of time to spend with the baby and the parents.

5. Personal space There are some disgusting people out there who think it's ok to put their fingers in MY baby's mouth and then proceed to announce "he's hungry". You retard! A baby's natural reflex is to suck anything that's put into his mouth.

Instead: If you aren't comfortable with me sticking my fingers in your mouth, don't do that shit. If you want to diagnose hunger, hand him to me to check. I'll gladly offer my boob instead - a receptacle much cleaner than your hands.

6. Bring food No one cares about the parents who are exhausted zombies with a never ending to do list. They are all there to play with the baby.

Instead: One of my favourite guests was a friend who packed a week's supply of food for the husband to eat while I was in hospital. Guess who gets to spend time with Squeak once a week?

7. Inside voices I never realised how loud certain people are. There is nothing more frustrating than struggling to put a baby to sleep only for him to be startled by someone's super sonic laughter. You should see me try to hide my death stare when that happens.

Instead: Use your inside voice.

8. Social media
Am I the only one who knows the modern day manners of not snapping and posting pics without consent on social media? Yes, we all know you have no real life and want to share anything that says otherwise but do you have to be an asshole about it? I don't even have the time to wipe my baby's face, let alone comb my hair. And do you want to guess how many unflattering pics  were taken in those early days and posted on Facebook without my permission? Assholes!

Instead: Ask permission before you take or post photos. In all likelihood, someone like me will say no. Or better yet, help mom calm a colicky baby who's been crying for three hours so she can look presentable for your need to let the world know that you are currently visiting a baby.

9. Make yourself useful
Newborns need to be fed every two hours - on demand actually; so if the baby is going through a growth spurt, it could spend most of its time on the boob. They go through an average of 12 nappy changes a day. They need to be burped, cuddled and put to sleep. And then there is dealing with their immature digestive system which bring along colic, tummy cramps and gas pains. The parents do not have time to do anything - especially entertain.

Instead: Rather help yourself to their kitchen and offer to make them a cup of tea. Two of my friends washed all my dishes for me without being asked. They just did it and I appreciated that so much.

10. Don't keep my baby awake! Yeah, he's cute; I know. Yes, he wants to look around in wide eyed wonder; everything is new. Of course you think he loves your entertainment. But when I tell you that my baby can't be awake for too long, don't continue to over stimulate my child. When you are done playing with him, I have to struggle for hours to put a cranky baby who is over tired to sleep.

Instead: How about rocking my baby to sleep as part of your play time with him? Maybe once you're gone, The Husband and I may even get to eat supper together.

If you've recently experienced life with a newborn, what do you think of my advice? Is there something you'd add to this list for guests to know before they knock on your door?

You Might Also Like