Baby

10 Rules for Visiting a New Mom

by Risa Kerslake

Photograph by Twenty20

Your friend or family member just had a baby and you simply can't wait to get over there and get your baby snuggles on. But before you do, read this. Believe it or not, there is a type of etiquette that comes with visiting a new mom and her baby. Here are 10 things you should keep in mind before knocking on a new mama’s door.

1. Always call in advance. Texts are even better.

Unless you're dropping off food and then leaving, do not drop by unannounced. Ever.

2. Bring food. Or coffee.

Points if you bring both. Babies tend to eat every two hours or less and that leaves little time for Mom to meal prep and eat. Offer to bring over something you can stick in the oven or a quick meal from a restaurant. And I never turned down someone bringing me coffee.

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3. Wash your hands when you arrive.

I’m a nurse, so this whole hygiene thing is second nature. But in my experience, not everyone thinks that way. So I’m telling you, when you arrive at a home with a new baby, drop your purse, put that food in the fridge and wash your hands. (And then tell your friend you washed.)

4. Don’t bring illness with you.

Please. My baby was born in winter and after visiting with a family member for 20 minutes, she disclosed her kid was “coming down with something.” If you are sick, or someone you live with is sick, for the love of God, do not come and visit a newborn.

Here’s the thing: New moms are insanely protective of their babies.

5. Leave your own children at home.

Especially early on. I can’t tell you how stressful it is having someone over while their child is racing around your house or yelling. New moms need a low-stress environment and extra kids just bring germs and anxiety. Eventually, it will be OK, but for now, come alone.

6. Do something around the house (depending on how well you know the mom).

If you're close, do things without asking. Do the dishes, fold a basket of laundry or take out the garbage. If you think it would be too uncomfortable, say something like, “I would love to (insert chore) for you. Can you just humor me?” This is better than asking if she wants you to do something, because out of politeness she'll probably say no.

7. Don’t ask to hold the baby.

What? Isn’t why you came? I didn’t even think about this before I had my daughter. Pre-baby, I was all, “Give me that baby! I want some snuggles!” Here’s the thing: New moms are insanely protective of their babies. I remember feeling incredibly anxious when my baby kept getting passed around by people in her first weeks home and it was all I could do not to tear her away from visitors. Be respectful of your friend and wait until she offers you to hold her baby.

8. Ask how she is doing.

It’s easy to get caught up in a new baby and people can forget there are very tired, emotional parents, too. Ask how she is doing, but don’t pry.

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9. Talk about something other than the baby.

When you are a new mom, your entire life revolves around your newborn. Life is pretty intense, especially in those first six weeks, trying to get the hang of feeding, diapering, washing bottles and pump parts. When I had friends stay for longer visits, it was refreshing to hear about what was going on in their lives. Don’t feel guilty talking about something else. Odds are, your friend will jump at the chance to take the focus off her.

10. Don’t overstay your welcome.

In the initial days and weeks, keep your visits to discreetly dropping off food or supplies—10 to 15 minutes, tops. Longer visits are better in the following weeks and months. Take your cues from Mom. If she needs to pump, or wants to sleep, that’s your signal to leave. Sometimes, she may want you to stay longer. After my husband went back to work, I realized how lonely it was being at home by myself with a baby. I loved having company over. I begged people not to leave. But everyone is different.

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