16 Things To Avoid When Visiting A Newborn Baby

16 Things To Avoid When Visiting A Newborn Baby

Dear friends and family who are eagerly awaiting an invitation to visit a newborn baby,

The new parents are tired. So tired.

They’re happy, overwhelmed, infatuated, scared, and proud, but mostly, they’re tired.

They don’t have the energy for an awkward conversation, and definitely can’t stomach confrontation.

So here’s a list of the things they don’t want you to do when visiting their newborn baby (but would probably never tell you for fear of offending you):

Things To Avoid When Visiting A Newborn Baby

Note from BellyBelly: We realise baby visiting boundaries can be a very sensitive topic for some people. As a friend or a family member who loves and cares about the mother and/or father, no doubt you cannot wait to meet the new baby.

However, combinations of the points listed below are very regularly expressed by many new parents. As much as you wish to be a great visitor and see the baby often, many parents wish for a some boundaries to be respected too.

Everyone has their own family they are responsible for. It’s important to respect the individual boundaries every family has decided upon. I’m sure you appreciate your own personal and physical boundaries being respected (and feel yucky when they are disrespected), just like every other human being does too.

Don’t allow your expectations to sour a special relationship, as it can put a wedge between families and can result in less – or no – visits in future. A sense of entitlement almost always results in bitterness and feuds.

So it can be helpful to bear in mind that a healthy respect for boundaries will greatly help new parents feel at ease when you visit and you will likely end up being offered more visits, cuddles and time with the baby.

#1: Kissing The Baby – Especially On The Lips

There’s no doubt about it – babies are totally kissable (and their heads totally sniffable…. oooh yeah). Even politicians do it. It’s probably that oxytocin high we get when bonding and snuggling a baby.

But if you visit a newborn, please don’t kiss a baby on the lips or on the face. If you want to kiss the baby, at least ask the parents first, and hopefully they don’t feel obligated to say yes. If you think not allowing a simple kiss is overkill, then you need to see our article on what happened to a newborn after she was kissed on the lips by a visitor. It’s not pretty.

Babies have a very basic immune system and are very vulnerable to germs and diseases. A study found those vaccinated for whooping cough could carry the bacteria in their throats for around six weeks, without showing any symptoms.

Please think of the baby’s need to be well over the need to lay a smooch on their lips.

#2: Smoking

Some hospitals now ask smoking guests to wear hospital gowns over their clothes when holding a baby. Third hand smoke (the stuff that lingers on your clothes, hair and breath) is bad for health, and experts now warn parents to take action against third hand smoke.

When visiting a newborn, make sure you are wearing fresh, clean clothes. If you smoke in your home, even your clean clothes may smell of cigarettes so ask if you can borrow a jumper before holding the baby. Do not smoke before or during the visit, even outside.

#3: Drinking Hot Drinks While Holding The Baby

There is nothing more terrifying than the sight of a friend sipping a boiling hot tea over the head of your newborn baby.

By all means have a cup of tea, just don’t drink it whilst holding the brand new baby.

#4: Assuming You Can Take Your Kids

Being a new mother is a bit like taking a break from reality. Her world has just been turned upside down in the most wonderful way possible, and every moment is consumed with feeds, nappies and overwhelming love.

These brand new families exist in the warm, cosy bubble of their houses. They talk in soft voices, sing lullabies and walk around sleepily cradling their newborn babies. Nothing bursts that blissful bubble quite like the whirlwind of someone else’s children. No matter how lovely, well-behaved and gentle your children are, it is best not to assume they are invited.

While some new parents will want them to visit, others may prefer just to have adult guests for the first couple of weeks. Offer to leave your kids at home for your first visit, and see what the new parents say.

#5: Being Late

It’s not that the new parents think that the world is rotating around them, and they’re really not being self-important or taking themselves too seriously – they’re just really tired, and they have so many people wanting to visit and steal cuddles with the new baby.

They’ve had to make time for everyone to visit, and try to make sure they have the energy to stay awake during the visits, so please turn up on time. And if you are running late, let them know as soon as possible.

#6: Unwashed Hands

Your hands may look clean, but they’re probably harbouring germs from the outside world.

Think of all the things you’ve touched since you last washed your hands, and then imagine passing all of those potential germs over to the new baby who hasn’t yet developed a strong immune system. Please make sure you wash your hands before holding the new baby.

Speaking of germs and diseases, some families of pregnant women are scrambling to get vaccinated before the baby is born, in order to help protect the baby from disease. However, bear in mind that recently vaccinated people could be unknowingly spreading the disease they have been vaccinated against. For example, read our article on Whooping Cough facts and tips. Get informed and educate before you vaccinate, as it just may prevent the newborn from contracting a childhood disease.

#7: Waking The Baby

This seems like a no-brainer, but sadly some guests do take it upon themselves to disturb sleeping babies. You may be desperate to see those beautiful big eyes, but rest assured they are probably murky coloured at the moment, and you’ll be able to get a better idea about eye colour on your next visit.

Newborn babies sleep for as many as 18 hours a day, and this sleep is really important for development. Not only that, the parents may have recently spent an hour or two comforting their crying baby to finally get baby to sleep. Remember, the person who goes out of their way to wake the baby is rarely invited back in a hurry.

#8: Coming Over While Sick

There’s not much you can do to avoid getting sick, but you can cancel your appointment to meet the new baby. The new parents are likely to be feeling worn out, and their immune systems may be compromised as a result.

On top of this, there is a newborn baby who hasn’t yet been exposed to the plethora of germs and viruses out there. So do the right thing, and stay away until you are feeling better and no longer contagious, so the parents don’t have to worry about caring for a sick new baby.

#9: Pushing For A Cuddle

This one may seem a bit strange, after all, you’re there to visit the baby so why shouldn’t you expect a cuddle?

Remember though, the mother is likely to be feeling tired, hormonal and emotional, so give her the chance to offer you a cuddle from the baby. She may be waiting for the next feed, or just enjoyed a cuddle with her baby after the last set of guests departed, so wait until the mother offers you a cuddle.

#10: Keeping Hold Of A Screaming Baby

When babies cry, it’s time to hand them back to their parents. The baby could be hungry, need changing, or simply miss the smell of his mum. Whatever it is, chances are they want their parents back.

Much as the new parents will appreciate the chance to nip to the bathroom or enjoy a hot drink whilst you’re holding the baby, parents are pretty much programmed to respond immediately to their babies’ cries.

#11: Leaving A Mess

When you leave the house, there should be no signs you were ever there.

Tidy up the wrapping paper of the gift you brought, wash up your cup before you leave, and make sure the new parents don’t have any jobs to do as a result of your visit.

#12: Staring During Breastfeeds or Doing the Breastfeeding Face

Breastfeeding is tricky and sometimes emotional, especially at first. The new mother and baby are both learning new skills, and are very likely to encounter some difficulties along the way. Not all, of course, but some new mothers feel added pressure when other people are present during feeds or are waiting in another room.

Getting a newborn baby to latch on can be difficult. The new mother may feel exposed and vulnerable with watching eyes in the room. Especially if she’s still learning or feels like she hasn’t worked it out yet, she may be feeling very self conscious. Breastfeeding should never be rushed.

Ideally, offer to leave so the mother and baby can do what they need to without pressure or expectation. Simply arrange another time to visit.

If the mother wants you to stay, simply carry on as if nothing is happening. Keep chatting (and not about whether breastfeeding hurts), keep up eye contact and please, please don’t do the breastfeeding face. This is a grimace that uncomfortable friends and family members pull as your baby latches on. The new mum understands your facial expressions, and you’re making her feel uncomfortable. Breastfeeding is natural, so be natural with it.

#13: Ignoring Feeding Cues

If you don’t have children yet, you can be forgiven for not knowing the feeding cues displayed by newborn babies.

Babies cry when they are hungry, but it’s not the first thing they will do – crying is a late hunger signal. Initially, babies will root around trying to find a nipple, put their fingers in their mouth, and become restless. These behaviours are the first clue that the baby is hungry, by the time the baby starts crying and is upset, it is much harder to achieve a proper latch. If you spot any feeding cues, offer the baby back to mum.

#14: Giving Unsolicited Advice

If you are specifically asked for advice, great, give it. If not, please don’t join the hundreds of voices already telling these brand new parents how to do things ‘the right way’. Just listen, offer support, and know that if they want your advice, they’ll ask for it.

#15: Outstaying Your Welcome

This is a tricky one, because how do you know when you’ve outstayed your welcome? You can probably judge this from the new parents, when they start to look like they’re lagging, they probably are. They are exhausted, and much as they love you company, they are really in need of sleep. As well as that, they need some time as a family to work on their new bond.

As a general rule, two hours is the longest you should stay, but many hosts prefer an even shorter visit than that. Make sure they know you won’t be offended if they ask you to leave, but also be sure to keep an eye on the time yourself so you don’t unwittingly outstay your welcome.

#16: Expecting To Be Waited On

It can be really exhausting for new parents if their visitors just sit down and expect to be fixed with drinks, meals or any other forms of hospitality. The newborn phase is a short, but intense one, and it can be really helpful if you offer to make the cups of tea, help out with lunch, or even better – bring food for everyone to share.

It may seem a little over the top, especially if you never had that support or nurturing yourself, however, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we brought the community back and gave new mothers and their partners the support they so desperately need? Maybe then, we could help reduce the unfortunate rate of 1 in 7 new mothers experiencing post-natal depression.

All mothers and fathers are different and appreciate different levels of support. While this list wont be absolutely everyone’s cup of tea, they are points that are made many a time by new mothers. Put your feelers out, start with the list and ask for any feedback. The best thing you can do is to ask, not assume or take it upon yourself to do what you’d like for yourself. This is the key to maintaining strong, close relationships with those who have just had a baby.

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  1. Are you serious? you need to get over yourself – it’s a baby, people have been having babies for thousands of years. Stop being so precious. No one is THAT keen to see your baby, you are and that’s fine.
    good grief
    people mostly ONLY come to be POLITE in the first place

    1. Jerbyl I assume from your comment that none of your friends are that keen on seeing you. All of these points are common curtesy. The fact that you think they are “precious” just solidifies the need to post such a list so people like you won’t come over and stress new parents and babies out unnecessarily. You really sound like that “RUDE” houseguest that no one wants to invite over. You may need to get over yourself. Have a blessed day!

      1. I agree Melisa. I have to date parted ways with 2 ladies who visited me unannounced 2 weeks postnatal. They questioned everything I did, suggested what I should do instead and said the food I offered them (Shepards pie) was baby food. I even offered an alternative -chicken kievs – they said they never heard of it! They are black west Africans. Eventually I just ate as they watched! I stopped returning there calls 2 years on! And just to add, they are from the church!

      2. Perfectly worded Melissa. I came out of hospital after 2 days & also from having a c-section. My mother in law was at my front door within 10 minutes of us being home. She showed no regard for me being tired or in pain just for the sake of getting cuddles with my Daughter. She does 4 of the 15 things mentioned above & overstaying her welcome is one of the worst. No one needs visits to go for 6-8 hours at a time, it’s simply too invasive & rude. Maybe people like Jerbyl should try to show more understanding & compassion for those who have experienced this first hand.

      3. I just had a baby after 19yrs and let me tell you people bug! My baby isn’t even 10 days old I’m still recovering and everyone and their mother wants to come over! Can I recover and adjust first? I prefer no germs and no one being near my baby for atleast a few weeks. Let us enjoy our bonding and baby time. I swear I don’t remember ever bugging any of my pregnant friends nor did I keep asking when I could come over.

    2. If you’re ONLY going to be polite, then all the more reason to not be a giant pain in the ass. Better yet DONT BOTHER visiting. Your “friends” will be better off :/

    3. After your thoughts and your response, I totally understand why people wouldn’t get close to you for you to think they are “not keen to see your baby”… I think they are /were not keen to visit you….
      Jeez, manage those emotions and stop repelling people, babies are adorable everywhere , and everyone wants to welcome them its your energy what they may want to avoid.

      1. Look, it’s true. New parents are tired and stuff is scary and unwashed hands seem terribly threatening, but there’s a middle line that can be walked here.

        Part of it is realising that when it’s your FIRST new baby, you will feel all of this and more, and it’s all part of the great rite of passage for new parents… AND some of it is a tad irrational. Asking someone not to smoke, come while ill, overstay their welcome or expect to be waited on – fine. Asking people to wash their hands (especially people who already have kids), keep their children away and not to “ignore feeding cues” – well, it starts to become potentially a bit unfriendly to the people in your life who want to spend time with you at this huge time of change.

        If you have a new baby, it’s likely you will have a lot of parent friends – and they can’t usually ditch their kids to see yours. They might be late. They might try to CONNECT with you by sharing their experiences (which as a first timer can feel like unsolicited advice, when mostly it is done out of a desire to validate and support you). Parent friends also tend to be pretty hygiene aware (and have a better sense, usually, of what’s warranted here and what steps over into an unhealthy obsession with germs). Most even know how to handle a cup of tea and a baby simultaneously BUT will be sensitive to the fears they remember about this themselves. As someone who would have been highly sensitive to “the breastfeeding face” as a new mum, having fed three since then let me tell you nine times out of ten it’s all in your head. I can count on one hand in over six years of infant feeding any incidences of staring and/or uncomfortable faces, and no, being a new mum doesn’t make you a mindreader who can tell what someone is thinking from looking at them.

        Most importantly you need to remember this phase is gone in a FLASH. The discomfort you might feel when your friend cuddles your baby a few minutes too long for your liking or the internal exhausted groan when someone leaves their cup of tea for you to wash or tells you they have a great book on parenting they’ll lend you is very, very momentary in the grand scheme of things.. but treat people well, even when at your most exhausted and depleted, and you will develop a strong, loving support network – and trust me mama, you are going to NEED it. Far more than you need a “perfect” newborn phase with well-behaved friends and family. Unless you or the baby are ill, you will look back and smile one day you ever thought all these rules were necessary.

        1. I disagree. Do what makes you happy at a time only a new mum/dad and baby should be enjoying together. If that means having alone time to suss out things and telling people who you feel would encroach to stand back then do it. Taking control of the situation on your terms is best especially when you’re healing, getting into a routine, feeling emotional etc. If that offends ‘friends’ and ‘family’ members then tough, it’s your new family/addition and anyone who has given birth will and should understand and respect your choices. This is coming from someone who nearly had a nervous breakdown with in-laws (adoptive to my partner) who did nearly every point in this article after my first was born. I was just too tired, emotional and terrified to offend anyone at the time to say ‘no, just go away’. Now I’m expecting my second and I’ve already called them to cancel their pre arranged plans to visit for weeks after the birth- that they had made without asking me, by the way! To say I feel liberated and more relaxed about getting into the early baby stages is an understatement!

    4. I agree whole heartedly. Family values are being torn apart because of opinions like that. Years past when there was a birth in the family it was celebrated and not hidden away. People like that will push away people that care only to find in future years that when their children leave the nest and do things that they protected them from they will be all alone. How do we learn our heritage without knowing the people that came before us?

  2. This is very correct. I don’t want anyone kissing my baby either! Everybody has there own germs, and you never know what infections people can have in their saliva when they kiss the baby.
    WHOLE BODY DISINFECTION before touching my baby!!!

    1. omgg my mother in law does it and i freak out and grab my baby back lol…i never knew people did this until i had my little one. I mean i don’t go up to them and kiss them on the mouth. People do crazy stuff when it comes to babies and people love to be offended i find lol. I just learned not to care you are protecting your child from first of all not being able to tell someone f off don’t kiss me lol and also from viruses. If you end up being a jerk who cares your kid won’t die of herpes at least =0).

  3. Jerbyl, Do you have kids? If you do, then you can probably remember that first week at home with your new baby. These are honest sentiments felt by a lot of new moms.

    Great artical and great advice. Although, I would decrease the visit time to 1hr, 1.5hr maximum.

    1. It’s spot on. I’ll also add to it, wash up, take something to occupy older siblings and bring food. Peek at baby, say the right things and bugger off. If Mum is having to pump, 1/2 an hour is your time slot.

  4. Rude comments about the baby’s looks must be avoided. Just imagine some one refering to your new baby as UGLY!!!

    1. Very good point! I took my elderly grandmother to visit my cousin’s baby and she kept commenting on the size of his ears and how squashed his nose was. In the end, I had to tell her she was being rude and offensive and to keep the comments to herself!!

  5. After having two babies, and 2 moms who came to help-it is important to set some guidelines for the mom, and the helpers. First, a nursing mom needs to ONLY care for herself, and her baby. Any household helpers should JUST take care of the house,laundry and the food for adults. Check folks at the door, tell them the baby/mom are both sleeping, and to call before they come again. Thank everyone delivering meals, and make a detailed list for new mom to have later.
    Do not offer unsolicited advice-it just makes new moms more uncertain–believe me they have read everything, and want to do what is current not what is 30 years ago! ( I should have told myself this as a grand mom) Be there when needed, and if asked make suggestions. Give the new parents lots of hugs, and let them gain confidence in themselves-they will have this little one the rest of their lives.

  6. Perfume. When you’re pregnant you might notice a heightened sense of smell and this doesn’t go away when the baby is born. It really set my teeth on edge when some clueless relative handed my baby back to me stinking of boots perfume counter. I’m sure she thought the scent was lovely, and on her I’m sure it probably was. But on my baby it was just a cacophony of stinky chemicals that made ny baby smell weird and different.

  7. Very good point on the perfume! Also, the advice giving: can’t tell you how much it aggravated me when someone kept insisting that I should not breastfeed my baby but instead offer food at three months. Every time this person visited it was the same advice or bad stare as if I was doing something terribly wrong and I had to suck it up because it was a girlfriend of a very good friend of mine.

  8. DON’T feel it is appropriate to ask the new mum how breast-feeding is going, or if she is bottle or breast feeding!
    If she is having trouble or is hasn’t been successful with it then this is likely going to make her feel judged and like she has failed!
    It’s none of your business!

    1. Oh yes I couldn’t agree more with this! It should definitely have been included. I wanted to BF but it didn’t work out sadly and everyone asked how I was feeding my daughter and it got me more upset each time.

  9. So true !!!! I hope every one knows these. i have a 3 month old daughter and i have been recieved all the wrong behaviors those days

  10. Based on observations and friends who have had babies before myself.
    1- Kissing the baby, especially on the mouth and known to be smokers!
    2- Insist on coming around multiple times a week/ month, parents, in-laws, neighbors.
    3-Commenting about the state of the house, the new parents and basically just being a jerk about everything!
    PS: Most mums and mums to be, are usually very very protective of their newborn. You don’t know what they’ve been through to get to where they are, so before you start judging them for being protective think where are your remarks / comments coming from.

    1. Couldn’t agree more! My mother in law has been a complete nightmare – staying for 12 hours at a time and asking me to make her sandwiches/coffee/dinner while she holds my 5 week old baby and then leaving without even offering to wash her used dishes, she just leaves them in the sink. She also never hands the baby back when she cries and it makes me feel so stressed. Last week I had to take the baby from her as I couldn’t bear it and she was hugely offended and very abrupt with me and made a comment about the fact that she knows how to handle babies (as if I was implying I know better than her). It is my biggest source of stress at a time which is already stressful enough. I’ve now asked my husband to say something to her which will no doubt offend her even more but I’ve had enough now.

      1. Sho that’s bad, can just imagine how horrible it must be for you. You know… It’s not only the baby. That baby grew in YOU, that baby is part you. So basically if she cares so much for the baby, then I’m sorry the mother is so much more, just as important. You are going to raise that child, and if your mother-in-law cares at all, she should show a great deal of respect to you, the mother of her grandchild. I think you and your husband should have a deep talk with her, cause I can see this will likely carry on for a long time. But also be involved. Show you care even though she is setting your nerves on end. Acknowledge her and say you will accept help, support and advice from her. BUT only to a point. You are the mother and has the last say (shall we say the father as well lol?). If she can’t accept that… Well then she needs to go see someone. It may be a deeper personal problem from her side. Congrats and all the best. X

  11. I heard that when females cycles are on they cannot go around newborn babies but I never found out why do any of you guys know why??

  12. Excellent article.
    I would add taking photos of the newborn without parents consent, and especially using flash while taking photos

  13. I agree with the points above . In fact I think the points arent enough. People should visit new parents only to have congratulate them . There is absolutely no need why we should even touch the baby . For one thing the back bone is not formed properly , repeated carrying and putting down the baby by many people may injure the baby .

  14. Love this article, I’m expecting my first in July and I can already say that I don’t want 20 million visitors. And that if my friends want to bring children when I’m ready everyone must be up to date with vaccinations.

  15. This is spot on! I just had my child at 41. I know that I didn’t have a clue about any of this prior to experiencing it. I would also suggest waiting to be invited over, even if you are super anxious to see the baby. You may even say that you would love to visit when the family is ready, and then leave it up to them to invite you.
    I came home with a tiny, premature baby as I was recovering from a C-section and HELLP syndrome. I was trying to pump every two hours so I rarely had a shirt on, let alone a bra. I really didn’t feel well enough to have visitors, let alone have dirty hands or sick people near my tiny baby. I think that a brief visit, when invited, is nice. Do be on time. I really had to work hard to coordinate showering, changing the baby’s diaper, feeding the baby, pumping, and putting on a shirt and bra in time for a visit with enough time to visit before the next changing, feeding, and pumping. Not to mention the 20-minute life-saving nap that I’ve given up to visit with you. Having a newborn is hard. People who disagree either have never had one or must have forgotten.

  16. Had my first baby via c section 14 years ago and gee how things have changed. At the time I would never have thought of alot of these things. People visited when they wanted, everyone told you how they did it, smoky clothes weren’t even a concern, everyone was allowed a cuddle for as long as they wanted. My nan would visit and roll her eyes if there were dishes in the sink or unfolded clothes on the lounge. No offer to help either because she raised her kids all by herself while pop was working 3 jobs. I remember feeling lost when I got home. I had this little person to care for now and no idea where to start. Wish these lists were around back then, would have saved so much stress, trying to have a “perfect” house to have visitors when all I wanted to do was rest and hold my baby.

  17. Love this post! Found it super helpful and informative. I plan on visiting Iceland within a year so I ll definitely be book marking this to remind me when that time comes

  18. This article is so so so true ……..people don’t realize it’s medically recommend that others don’t kiss baby’s as they could pass on cold soar virus which is deadly for baby , and germs, and sickness to ……or that they should wash there hands every time before picking up baby , and more ………like how soar, tired , mom will be after giving birth and how she needs to heal …….every point in this article was valid 🙂 and yes I could add about 50 more pointers 😉 thank you for the article !!!!!!

  19. I don’t remember being exhausted or tired after having my baby. What’s with all the talk about parents being exhausted. How can you be exhausted when the baby is a day or two old. If you’re worn out by that point, I sure feel sorry for you.

  20. These sort of articles make me puke. So much for lots of selfie photos of the Pregnancy, now they want you to leave food and help with chores and have a swab test before you visit. Stop with all the pre birth self gratification, the Baby Showers, the gifts, the photos, Twitters, the Twatters …………now tell people to piss off.

    You had a kid, so what, and so did 353,000 other people gave birth on the planet that same day. Get over it.

    1. If it were your newborn kid who suffered an infection because someone like you said ‘piss off’ to such an article, you wouldn’t be commenting here the way you did.

      Yeah sure, millions of people all over the world have babies. But to each one of them, their baby is precious and the first few weeks with their newborn is difficult.

      If you had it easy, good for you. Don’t go making it difficult for others.

  21. I don’t have a problem with this…. while being a newborn their immune system is developing and doesn’t need to be nombarded with all we carry… later they eat dirt and stuff we did as kids and build up. Common sense really. In the world ee have today lets enjoy the new generation.
    Bluntly put don’t be a pain in the arse and respect new parents requests regardless whether you agree or not.
    Enjoy. To all the new parents.

  22. I should print this out and send to the mother in law. She is guilty of every single crime here and wonders why she is now not welcome. We haven’t even told her about the latest pregnancy and won’t until baby is older and able to tolerate her recently vaccinated germs etc.

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