If you wish to visit a new baby, choose your timing wisely and keep the visit short unless you come prepared with gloves and cleaning products to really help out!
A number of babies have been born into my close family and friend circle recently, it really does feel like a baby boom with my house once again filled with tiny baby clothes tied up in ribbons of pink and blue (no gender fluid babies yet!)
A new baby is so exciting: the smell, the soft touch, the wrinkly newness; the miracle of life. We all want a little squeeze, to smell the baby powder, comment on who the baby looks like and glimpse at the newborn chaos.
But please take heed before you storm into the new baby’s home, with explosive presents, a desire to hold and sing the praises of the newborn and dispense your wise words of wisdom to the exhausted parents.
This can be a very anxious and fragile time for newbie parents. New parents often feel vulnerable, they have worries over feeding and sleeping, sleep deprivation may just be setting in and parents who have other children may be struggling to find their new family balance. Be mindful that your quick little visit might cause more stress (like frantic cleaning) than happiness, so choose your timing wisely.
Just like the hospital, there should be some visitor restrictions such as:
1. Always ask permission to visit - be prepared that it may not be a good time, the baby might be having a bad day, mammy might be upset and sometimes maybe an older sibling could be having an off-day. Do not get offended if it takes parents up to a week to respond to text messages or return calls - they are kind of busy.
2. Give yourself a health check - do not under any circumstances enter a newborn's house if you have any sniffles, cough or sickness.
3. Do not ask to hold the baby, if you are offered the chance to cuddle the tiny bundle make sure your hands are washed and disinfected.
4. Unless the parents are close family or very close friends, leave your own young sprogs at home, new parents have enough to worry about without your crazy kids wrecking their house!
5. If you plan on staying for over an hour, you better get busy helping with some chores, just throw a wash on when you come in the door.
6. Offer real help not just the lame comment “if you need anything call me.” Be specific and honest with what you can do - walk the dog, hover the house, pick up kids or maybe just cook a meal.
7. ALWAYS go up a size in baby clothes. Unless you are 100% sure the baby is 7.5lbs on the date you visit, it is safer to buy bigger and stay away from newborn sizes!
8. Unless specifically asked, try not to offer advice, every baby and family operate differently.
9. Do not comment on the mother’s body or the state of the house. If you are visiting a newborn, then expect you will be lifting a nappy from the couch so you can sit down, hopefully it will be a clean one!
10. Please avoid flash photography unless you are being paid to produce a professional suite of keep sake momentos for the family. And if you wake the baby - its best you leave promptly!
I had more visitors during the first three months of my first born's life than I have probably had in the five years since. I was overwhelmed with gifts and cards and messages and was so very thankful for all of them.
But it isn't easy to entertain while breastfeeding, or trying to get to know your new baby. It can be hard to put forward a presentable home when you haven't showered in a week, have lost the TV remote and a bit (if not a lot) of your sanity.
So welcome visitors on your terms, or invite them over at a suitable time like ... 4am!