Expecting your first baby?
Raising a newborn is TOUGH! If you know anyone in your group expecting a little one, you’ll have to follow a LOT of new rules. Babies are sensitive, after all.
If you’re excited to meet the new baby, here are some of those basic rules. If you’re expecting parents, these apply, too!
Basic Rules for Visiting a Newborn
Rule 1: Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
Practice. Good. Hygiene.
Babies are vulnerable little bundles of joy, so you have to take a few extra steps to protect them. For visitors, be careful! You don’t want to give the baby a reason to cry.
Babies thrive in a clean environment.
And for good reason — a cluttered crib is DANGEROUS for babies. They can injure themselves even with just daily household items.
Also, if you work in a dirty environment, you’ll want to wash off dirt, grime, and microbes from your hands before you can even come close to the baby.
So whenever visiting a newborn baby, one way to show your love and care is to keep clean at all times.
Self-care = caring for others, too!
1.1: Wash Your Hands, Always
The first thing you should do when you visit the baby’s home is to wash your hands. Go straight to the powder room, restroom, or kitchen sink, and scrub the day’s sweat and grime away.
And as much as possible, keep your hands off your phone!
It might be difficult not to whip out your phone these days, but your phone contains a lot of microbes that can harm the baby.
Your phone has more germs than a toilet seat, and some of them can be dangerous pathogens. Yuck!
So wash your hands, people!
And if you’ve washed your hands as soon as you visit the house but scrolled on social media, wash them again!
If a sink is out of reach, hand sanitizer will do in a pinch. If you’re in a big group, everyone should take turns washing hands.
1.2: Change Your Clothes
This might sound like overkill. But if you live in an urban area and you’re exposed to POLLUTION DAILY, err on the side of caution and wear pristine clothing.
Since everyone’s clothes can absorb biological pollutants like car smoke and even dander and pollen, always bring new clothes every visit.
And if you live with pets at home, that newborn you visit might inhale cat and dog fur stuck on your clothes.
Breathable, Natural Fibers are Best
Another word about clothing: if you’re close family to the newborn’s parents and you want to carry the young baby, try wearing natural, breathable fibers.
So for extra caution, bring a change of clothes – preferably in natural fibers – so that the newborn doesn’t inhale dust and dander.
Rule 2: Everything is Contagious
A baby’s immune system is fragile and doesn’t mature UNTIL they’re at least 2 or 3 months old.
So before they reach that age, a newborn baby CANNOT fight off diseases and viruses.
And even when developed, infants are still vulnerable until they get vaccinated.
What does that mean? It means that everything is contagious to a newborn baby. Even a simple runny nose or harmless sneeze is scary.
And let’s not forget the elephant in the room; COVID-19 is already very contagious to adults as it is. Everyone can get infected.
So exercise caution when interacting with a baby to avoid unwanted, expensive trips to the hospital. Follow these steps to prevent disaster.
2.1: No Kissing!
Kissing can transmit a lot of diseases, especially those that can spread through droplets like whooping cough or RSV.
So if you’re not the baby’s parent, or even if you are in the family group, exercise caution when you kiss the baby. Better yet, avoid it AT ALL COSTS.
2.2: Make Sure You’re Vaccinated Before Visiting
Infants aren’t vaccinated until they’re two months old.
So honestly, a baby under 2 months old shouldn’t get visitors, even if they are family.
But if you’re a person who’s dear and trusted to the parents, who are we to stop you? In those cases, your best choice is to have vaccinated loved ones in the group.
2.3: Avoid Visiting During Flu Season
Flu season is dangerous for kids, not just infants. People can get infected by newer strains of the flu during this time of the year.
Proceed with caution when you decide to visit during this season. Anyone can infect a baby with the flu, so avoid large group visits.
Don’t be unwanted guests when there’s flu going around. Or better yet, if you really want to visit, get yourself a flu vaccine before you visit the baby.
Rule 3: Noise Isn’t Nice
Noise exposure can be dangerous to a baby. Noise can cause hearing problems for a baby down the line, and if the baby is premature, noise can disrupt their normal growth.
That’s why visitors should keep quiet whenever visiting a baby. We recommend taking these extra steps and exercising caution to prevent any trouble.
3.1: Visit While the New Baby is Awake
Only try visiting a newborn during the day, when the baby is awake.
The baby’s parents can tell you exactly when the newborn can interact with you, so ask mom or dad before making a visit.
A baby sleeps through most of the day, though. So if you catch the baby asleep when you arrive, just talk to another person in a different room, like the baby’s family.
If the walls are thin, talk in hushed tones to keep the newborn baby calm and well-rested.
3.2: Keep Out of Reach of Children
Toddlers can be great playmates to a baby. But toddlers can also be noisy, especially when they’re in their terrible twos.
If your toddler wants to see the new baby, give them an orientation before visiting a newborn baby.
Even young children can understand simple instructions. It’s as simple as telling them to follow basic rules for visiting a new friend: keep quiet, play gently, and let the new baby sleep.
3.3: Avoid Large Group Visits
We know you mean well, but a large group is a HUGE NO-NO. A baby’s scared enough to meet strangers. Imagine the distress with all the noise of a huge group surrounding him!
Save the group visit for when the baby needs playmates. That comes in much later when he’s a toddler.
Rule 4: Minimize Smells
Infants are extra sensitive to foreign smells and scents. Some smells can irritate their nasal passages and can cause allergies or sickness.
When you’re visiting a newborn, it’s best to keep yourself as neutral-smelling as possible.
Take a shower, but that’s it: no extra perfumes or scents should be anywhere near a newborn.
4.1: Stay Away from a Smoker
We won’t tell you not to smoke around a new baby. That’s a no-brainer! You shouldn’t even think about doing it.
But even if you don’t, it’s a good idea not to go straight to the new baby right after a few drinks at a nearby pub or bar.
The smoke can cling to your clothes and your car. That’s called thirdhand smoke.
Thirdhand smoke includes lingering carcinogens and particles from cigarettes, like leftover nicotine. In fact, studies have shown that thirdhand smoking is a big culprit in cancer cases.
Your clothing can absorb all the disgusting carcinogens from cigarettes and cause problems for the newborns you’ll visit.
So NEVER visit a smoker and avoid pubs and bars right before you visit a baby.
But What About Vaping?
Vapes are all the rage, especially for smokers who are trying to quit cancer sticks. But before you tout the benefits of vape, keep your device away.
There isn’t as much research around secondhand vaping, but children’s hospitals, like Johns Hopkins, recommend avoiding the vape altogether when you visit a baby.
4.2: Avoid Perfumes
Fragrances aren’t as offensive as cigarettes, but keep your spritzing to a minimum before you visit a newborn.
Some perfumes contain harmful ingredients like phthalates that can cause allergies, asthma, and diabetes in infants.
Phthalates can also cause endocrine disruption, which is a risk you don’t want to expose the baby to.
If you really must spray something on you, we recommend sticking to water-based or alcohol-based fragrances that use only essential oils as a base note.
Rule 5: Behave Online
Now, this is an extra-special commandment you won’t find in many other places since it has little to do with handling a baby.
But if you’re social media-savvy, please stay off the camera or video before you take pictures of the baby.
The Internet is a great way to connect with friends, and it’s even good for kids sometimes. But there are risks, like your digital privacy, that can endanger the baby.
Under American law, you need to ask the baby’s parents for consent before you can post pictures or anything about the baby online.
But even if you are family, or a person close to the baby, posting someone else’s child online may be unethical.
So if you really must take a photo of the kid:
- Always ask for permission from the parents;
- Take uncompromising pictures of the baby, fully clothed; and
- Avoid posting the image on social media.
Important Rules for Visiting the Mommy
As a visitor, you’re probably a person close to the new family, like a friend or guardian. You might even be a cousin of the baby!
But you’re not just visiting the new baby. You’re visiting the child’s parents, too.
But NO ONE prepared these new parents for this brand new life change. As a friend or family member, it’s your responsibility to make things easier for the lucky couple.
Here are a few basic rules for visiting a new family, so you can help ease your friends through this unique period.
Rule 1: Support the Mother
Women face a tremendous task before they become mothers. Their body undergoes extreme physical changes, and their hormones can affect their own emotions and experiences.
After giving birth, a mother goes through plenty of changes, both physical and mental. And both new parents undergo lifestyle changes as well.
New parents can’t stay out all night to drink with you and your other friends.
New parents have to tend to their baby’s needs. That means turning in early, leaving work early, and spending less time outside.
As a trusted person, you’d want to help with this new journey. Show your love by being supportive of this new life journey.
1.1 Before Childbirth
Try not to comment on the mother’s figure before giving birth. Yes, she knows that she’s gaining weight. Yes, she knows that she’s getting new stretch marks every day.
But unless you’re in that unique situation yourself, you’ll never know how she’s feeling.
Sure, she’ll be joyful about getting a new baby, but she may experience insecurities about her figure.
After all, most women see pregnancy as a sign of maturity. And the changes to their body don’t agree with current standards of beauty, either.
So be supportive of the women in your life and let the mother know how much of a blessing it is to be a new mom! It’s an exciting new stage in life, after all!
1.2 After Childbirth/Hospital
Here’s the sad reality of motherhood after giving birth: it’s HARD.
If you’re a mom yourself, you know what it’s like to be sleep-deprived: one hour of sleep every night, if you’re lucky (even less if your new child is finicky).
The baby’s feeding and diaper schedule are also quite daunting for many parents. And a baby can be nocturnal, too! So a crying baby in the middle of the night is pretty common.
That’s one thing Hollywood gets right about newborns: ALL of this is exhausting to new parents. The mother can be even more tired because women should feed the baby.
On top of everything else, the mother can undergo baby blues, or postpartum depression and anxiety, because of the weird way hormones work in one’s own body.
As a supportive visitor, here are a few ways to make the most out of your visit to new moms:
- Comfort her. Let her know she still looks beautiful even after she gave birth. And if she’s ambitious, let her know she’s more than just her ability to give birth and be a mom!
- Be patient. She can be irritable, but she’s not mad at you! Unless she’s crossed the line, don’t pick on every single annoyance she might rant about.
- Don’t pick on her parenting methods. Everyone has their own style, and not everyone can raise a child in the same way. So don’t judge!
- Offer a shoulder to cry on. Help her navigate her emotions by letting her lean on you in one of your stays. A hug is a great way to show love and support!
Rule 2: Don’t Be THAT Person
We all know them: the people who are really only excited for the new baby and strut around the house being know-it-alls about raising kids.
If it’s annoying for you, it might annoy the parents you’re visiting, too. So avoid the traits you wouldn’t want to see yourself, so your visit to the baby can give the new parents peace of mind.
Unsolicited advice is a no-no!
2.1: Don’t Be Overbearing
The first few weeks after giving birth are HARD.
Don’t be an extra burden to the new parents by asking them to tend to your needs on top of tending to their baby.
They may graciously accept visitors in their home, but they can’t be the perfect host and tend to the visitors’ every need.
They’re probably tired from giving birth or tending to the new baby and have had very little sleep.
So nagging for an extra cup of coffee while they’re hushing their baby can be bothersome for them.
Try not to make too many demands as guests in their home. After all, their priority is to start preparing for their baby the best way they can.
And if you’ve been there more than an hour, it might be a good idea to step out of the house. Don’t overstay your welcome!
2.2: Help Around The House
Don’t comment or complain if you see a few unwashed dishes or dusty floors. Help the couple out instead! Anyone can use extra manpower, especially new parents.
After all, they probably don’t have enough time to tend to their homes after taking care of the baby.
Instead of adding to the burden, share in the burden instead. Offer to do a few chores around the house, whether that’s sweeping the floors or cleaning dishes.
You can even offer to go on a supply run before you visit the house. Offer to bring food, or maybe a meal or two for the couple.
The relief they’ll experience from having less on their mind is a great way to show your love and support.
2.3: Don’t Come Empty-Handed
Gifts are always welcome to most parents. It may be something as simple as a sandwich you bought on the way (these people probably haven’t had enough time to cook on their own!).
Or maybe you brought your own toddler to play with the other kids in that home, just to let the parents rest for a while.
Of course, you can buy gifts for both mom and baby as a welcome-home gift after birth. You can try to get them these things to help make their life easier.
Great Post-Hospital Gifts for Mamas:
- Breast Pump. Breast pumps are amazing inventions for breastfeeding mothers. Once they extract enough breastmilk, it’s as easy as feeding a bottle to the baby whenever he or she is hungry.
- Breast Pads. Breastfeeding is really just a way to feed a baby. It’s good for their health, too! But it’s hard for a new mom to go out and bout grocery shopping when her breasts are leaking.
- Cloud Sandals or Slippers. Carrying a baby around the house can be tough on their back and feet. Cloud slippers can relieve weight strain from a mom’s feet. And they feel good, too!
Great Welcome-Home Gifts for Babies:
- Onesies. A baby really only wears one thing until they become a toddler: onesies. One for sleep, one for play, and a few more in between, because why not? You can check out Organic Baby Clothes Guide.
- Pacifier. Okay, maybe organic baby pacifiers are gifts for moms than for infants since they can help the baby keep quiet after crying.
- Diapers. Non-toxic disposable diapers and organic cloth baby diapers are splendid gifts to new parents, and they’re budget-friendly, too! We don’t know anyone who would reject diapers, so these are a wonderful choice.
Your gifts don’t have to be extravagant to make an impact. Whatever it is, big or small, offer something useful to the new parents that can reduce their own load and give them peace of mind.
Everyone who’s been a new mom or dad knows that new birth is difficult to adjust to. So try to offer help as much as you can.
Rule 3: Respect the Family
As a new family, even before making the gigantic decision to become parents, a mother and her partner already talked about parenting choices, child-rearing principles, and other philosophies for raising children.
Whenever they make that decision, they already have the baby’s health and growth in mind.
3.1: Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
Never judge moms or dads for not using organic cloth diapers or using formula (after it’s prescribed by a doctor, of course).
You’re not raising the baby; you’re a mere visitor.
And visitors really don’t have any say about raising a baby. Unless you’re grandparents, you’re just another person to the baby.
Visiting a newborn anytime soon?
Here’s our handy list of key rules and helpful tips to keep in mind so you can visit a new baby with caution and help show your love both to the kids and to the couple:
- Did you wash your hands?
- Did you avoid smokers?
- Can you keep quiet?
- Are you healthy?
- Did you bring a gift?
- Can you offer to do chores or bring food?
Show your love and support for the birth by exercising caution with the baby and being careful every time you visit.
You can also take the extra mile by bringing some diaper bag essentials to help the family!
The bottom line is, whenever you visit a new baby, try to exercise caution with the baby, and be considerate to the new parents.
Everyone knows that raising a brand new baby is tiring. But parenthood is worth it. And as visitors, we can just follow these simple rules for visiting a newborn baby that can make it easy for everyone.
FINAL TIP: If you’re the mom of a newborn baby that’s reading this, you might want to know how to keep your little one warm during the night. This is especially crucial if you’re giving birth in the colder times of the year!
August 4, 2022 – minor content and formatting edits
July 22, 2021 – updated article links