Newborn babies are kind of really the best. They’re so snuggly and sweet, and have that new baby smell that is amazing. So it’s understandable that you want to secure all the baby snuggles you can when a loved one has a newborn. However, it’s important to be respectful of the huge life change that is happening to your loved one(s) and also be aware of the new baby herself.
Here are seven key rules for visiting a newborn, in no particular order:
1. Go over when it’s convenient for the new parents.
Having a new baby with a new schedule can be stressful. So work around their schedule and not necessarily yours. Recognize that while it’s nice to have visitors, it can also be an unsettling time, so be flexible and patient with the new parents. After all, they’re entrusting you to be around their brand new baby.
2. Always wash your hands and use sanitizer before touching or holding the baby.
This should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Always, ALWAYS wash your hands (and use hand sanitizer where available) before holding the newborn you’re visiting. Even if you washed your hands when you arrived, make sure you wash them right before you hold the baby, too.
3. No kissing!
I think we’ve all read the horror stories of inadvertently spreading the herpes virus to newborns. Refraining from kissing a baby on the face (or anywhere else, really) is just a good rule of thumb. And don’t stick your fingers in a baby’s mouth, clean or not. Ever.
4. Ask for permission before taking any photos, and don’t use flash.
It’s always a good idea to ask before you snap a photo of the new baby (and post it on social media), to be respectful of boundaries and parental intentions. Also, since using a flash can severely irritate a baby’s eyes, please remember to turn it off before snapping the photo.
5. Don’t bring your little kids.
While your kids are most likely adorable and pretty well mannered, leave them at home. Not only can the presence of additional people cause heightened anxiety to the new parents and baby, you also run the risk of spreading germs, whether your kids are sick or not. So save the play dates for when baby is old enough to interact.
6. Offer to help.
Whether it’s bringing a meal or treat with you when you visit or offering to help with other siblings while you visit, offering to help can be a great way to turn your visit into something that really aids your loved ones. Depending on the relationship you have with them, you’ll know what’s appropriate.
7. Don’t overstay your welcome.
While new parents appreciate the support and visits, it’s important not to overstay your welcome. The timeframe is again dependent on your relationship to the new parents. For instance, if you’re visiting your sister, you might be staying all day, helping her with various chores, tasks, or your other nieces/nephews. But if you’re visiting a friend, about a half an hour is probably more appropriate. Communicate with your loved ones and pick up on the vibe that is present when you visit. Always erring on the side of staying a shorter amount of time ensures that you’re giving the new mom, dad and baby space, and not stressing them out.