As exciting as it is, visiting a newborn needs boundaries. Everyone is in awe of a new baby- they are fresh, innocent, honest, exciting and when they aren’t yours, someone else changes the stinky diapers! I spent so much time planning and preparing before we had Baby A yet I didn’t expect all the chaos that visitors bring in the first few days after coming home from the hospital. Of course we loved showing off our princess and wanted to be surrounded with family and friends but fostering an enjoyable visit was difficult.
I found myself struggling to be the host I wanted to be along with struggling to be the new mom I wanted to be. None of my guests intended to put these frustrations on us and I wonder if they are just a natural part of becoming a parent- preparing for the inevitable embarrassing situations that will now pop up when I least expect them. Nonetheless, following these 5 rules to visiting a newborn will help keep the new mom at easy and get you a little baby love!
- Announce Your Visit
A new mommy is unlikely dressed for visitors. A breastfeeding new mommy may not be wearing a top at all. Heck, even a new daddy dons some less then stylish outfits around the house after a new baby is born. The family needs a moment of notice to make themselves presentable for company. Stopping by while you are out doing errands or find yourself with some free time may be convenient for you but this unannounced visit will be disruptive and possibly embarrassing.
Also, for many new families it is best you call and discuss your visit with the new baby’s Dad instead of Mom. In most cases, Momma is on the front lines with Baby and if she is lucky enough to be napping, don’t risk waking her.
- Come Bearing Gifts
Always bring a little something with you. I recommend easily prepared food or snacks. One of the best packages we received was a full casserole, desert, a few paper plates, a couple plastic cups, and some drink- a full meal ready to be warmed and eaten. I also remember my mother in law bringing over homemade pizza. Without realizing it, I completely walked away from a conversation with her and came back with two slices on a plate to finish the small talk. Since you will be calling ahead, you may also want to ask if there is anything the family needs while you are out. Depending on how close you are to the family, they may really appreciate you saving them yet another trip to the grocery store for a pack of much needed toilet paper.
Many people want to bring adorable baby outfits but unless you know they family needs them, I always avoid them. Instead, consider practical gifts like diapers, wipes, receiving blankets, even baby laundry detergent. If you aren’t sure what would be most useful, consider a personalized gift such as a blanket or pillow with the new baby’s name, birthday, birth time, weight, and other details on it. If you struggle to shop for baby items, gift cards inside a cute greeting card allow the family flexibility to purchase unexpected items.
- Ignore the Mess
As much as you may not mind it, no one wants to entertain in a mess. The house is a mess. Mom and Dad are a mess. And on top of what you see, it was probably even worse right before you announced your visit. The last thing needed is your judgment on laundry or comments on personal hygiene. Expect that Dad has been running around high and low, here and there, with more ‘To Do’s’ than ever before. Expect that Mom’s clothes are dirty and she may or may not be wearing undergarments. A new Mommy wants to show off her baby and she has a vision of a perfectly clean home with perfectly groomed hair as the neighborhood comes to visit. This couldn’t be further from reality but do your best to keep this vision alive.
- Acknowledge Siblings
If there are older siblings in the family, they need attention too. It is tough being a kid when everyone comes to see you little brother or sister. If you are bringing something (which we have already established you will), bring something special for them as well. This can be as easy as cookies or a coloring book depending on the ages but this is crucial to the growing family. Talk to siblings while you visit and complement them, too. Reinforce that they are a good Big Brother or Big Sister and that Mom and Dad are lucky to have them. Ask them simple questions like if they expected the baby would have that much hair or if they can believe how small the baby’s toes are. They have never had less attention and need you to involve them in the buzz.
- Don’t overstay your welcome.
As much as you want to hold that precious angel all day, it is important that you make your involvement in the day brief. This is a key bonding time for the family so get in and get out. The next feeding or changing or nap is just around the corner so be aware not to interrupt. If you feel like you are in the way, you are. Don’t take it personally but tell them how beautiful they baby is, how blessed they are for their family, and show yourself to the door.