Having the first visit with new parents and a new baby is amazing! We all get so excited about holding the new baby, smelling the newborn smell, and enjoying all the cuddles. This can be a really special visit for the new parents as well, who are often really excited to show off their new bundle of joy to all their friends and family. But chatting to other mums, it seems there are some old school people who can tend to make the first visits more difficult than they need to be. Here I’ve made a list of what mums tell me they want people to know when they are visiting a newborn and new parents for the first time.
Wait to be asked, and do not show up uninvited
This is the most important one. The first few days and weeks home from hospital can be really unpredictable and crazy. Often this is the time when mum is getting used to breastfeeding baby, baby’s sleep patterns are really unpredictable, new parents might be holding the baby all of the time (and I mean ALL of the time, like 24/7), and may not have had much time to sleep. Showing up unannounced at this time can be really stressful. A nice text message saying something like “we’d love to come and see you and the baby, please let us know when you are ready to have us over, we’ll bring food” goes a long way.
This brings us to the next most important thing new mums want you to know, bring food, every time. Cooking food while exhausted, recovering from birth, and learning to look after a baby is a massive challenge. Bringing food is one of the most helpful things a visitor can do. A home cooked meal is so nourishing for new parents. If you’re coming around morning or afternoon tea time, bringing snacks is also really helpful. New mums can feel extreme hunger during the postpartum period, and snacks are an essential!
Don’t expect to be waited on
I’ve heard some mums saying that people visit to see the baby and expect the new mum to make them tea or coffee, bring them morning or afternoon tea, and just generally be a good hostess. This really isn’t an appropriate way to act while you are visiting new parents and their newborns. The new mum has just been through a lot giving birth, and will now be exhausted, hormonal, and sleep deprived. Help her out, make the coffee, bring the food, and take over some of the hostess duties.
Do not kiss the baby
This one is a little different – lots of people love to kiss babies, they are so adorable and kissable, it’s really understandable! But please do not kiss a baby. Babies have under developed immune systems, and they are very susceptible to viruses and illnesses. A simple virus like the cold sore virus can be extremely dangerous, even deadly, for a newborn, and can be passed on even if you don’t have an active cold sore at the time. Please refrain from kissing the baby.
Let mumma decide who gets to hold the baby and when
We know you want to hold the baby, but if the baby is feeding, sleeping, or crying, it might not be a good time for you to hold the baby. The baby is a human that has needs, you can’t interrupt feeding or sleeping time to have a hold of the baby, unless you want the baby to be really unhappy. Wait until the baby is ready for a cuddle, and accept that today might not be a good day for newborn snuggles. If you are holding the baby and they start crying, ask mum if she wants you to hand the baby back. It might be time for a feed, a nappy change, or something else that mum needs to do. As a new mum I was also very nervous about my baby getting sick, so wasn’t comfortable with lots of people holding the baby. Wait for mum to decide when you can hold the baby.
Don’t play "pass the baby"
This is a follow on from the last one. When lots of friends and family come and visit, its common for everyone to want to hold the baby. But passing the baby around to lots of people isn’t always a great idea. This is a great way to potentially expose babies to illnesses, and might be a great way to stress baby out and interrupt sleep time or feeding time. Wait until mum says it’s time for baby cuddles. New mums, if you think this is going to be a problem for you and your family, I recommend using a baby carrier or wrap so you can hold baby close without having friends or relatives come and take baby from your arms for cuddles.
Help out with a chore
Ask the new mum what chores need doing. If you see dishes in the sink, wash them. If you see toys on the floor, pick them up. Just generally be helpful. Ask the new parents if there are any jobs they would like help with. Other generally helpful things to do can include filling mum’s water bottle (new mums need to drink a lot of water!), pour her a coffee, or ask if you can get her something to eat.
If there are older children, do something to help entertain them
Having a new baby is a big deal for new older siblings as well. Bringing something small to entertain them or make them feel included can be really helpful. A pack of stickers, a colouring book, or a small toy can be wonderful! Also if you know the family well, spending some time playing with the toddler can really help mum get some time to bond with the new baby and tend to their own needs.
Do not tell the new mum she looks tired
Of all the things you can say – don’t say this! We know we look tired. It isn’t helpful. Just don’t.
Bring helpful gifts
Practical gifts can go a long way, and please don’t forget mum when giving gifts!
Check out our gift collections here to find something helpful to bring along with you for the first visit.