Everyone loves a newborn baby: They’re new, fresh and full of possibilities. So when a friend or family member brings home their brand new bundle of joy, feel free to ask if you can drop by for a visit.
Just don’t be that person—you know, the one who whirls in empty-handed at 5 p.m. while on her way out to dinner, kicks her feet up on the couch and remarks that mom still has a bit of a tummy four days after giving birth.
Here are some other things you should never, ever do when you’re visiting a newborn.
1. Don’t show up unannounced.
Coordinate with one of the parents to arrange a set time—and arrive at that time. Don’t dare show up on their doorstep without discussing in advance.
2. Don’t arrive empty-handed.
Food, food, food! Bringing a meal to new parents is ridiculously helpful if you can swing it, whether it’s one to enjoy immediately or to put in the freezer for a day when mom can’t even put baby down for 10 seconds, let alone put together a whole meal. She’ll be praising you and thanking you in her head all day knowing she has something decent to eat in the freezer. Snacks, treats or take-out gift cards are great too. And if not food, try to bring something useful: diapers, wipes, a toy your kids had and loved, stain remover or cute drool bibs. Don’t bring flowers! They’re lovely, but they’re just another thing to deal with.
3. Don’t visit if you’re sick.
Seriously. Stay away. Even if it’s just a cold, don’t even step foot through the door. Wait until everyone in your house is in tip-top health before meeting and greeting a baby.
The first four weeks: What caring for a newborn is really like
4. Don’t stay too long.
Meet the baby, congratulate the parents, have a chat, offer to help in any way you can—and then be on your way. Be so, so careful not to overstay your welcome. New parents are tired and trying to find some kind of rhythm with a new family member, whether this is their first baby or their fifth. Let them find their groove.
5. Don’t create more work.
New parents don’t want to play host or wait on anyone but their newborn, so don’t expect them to do anything for you. Don’t even wait to be offered a glass of water. If you want one, ask if it’s OK that you get it yourself. And while you’re in the kitchen, offer to wash a few dishes or put on a fresh pot of coffee.
6. Don’t bring a crowd.
As much as new parents enjoy showing off their baby, they don’t want visitors whom they weren’t expecting. For example, mom might be OK with being bra-less in front of you, but not in front of your husband. Don’t show up with any extra guests without clearing it beforehand.
7. Don’t disrespect the parents’ wishes.
If the new parents have said they don’t want visitors at the hospital, stay away. If they’ve requested a week alone before any visits, keep your distance until the seven days are up. Don’t forge ahead with what you think is best if they have asked otherwise, or you risk waking a very tired, very emotional bear.
8. Don’t post pictures of the baby to social media without asking.
Snap-happy visitors are the worst. If it’s not your kid, it’s not your news. Don’t be the person who steals the new parents’ thunder by posting photos of their wee babe before them, or without their consent. Not everyone shares every single moment on social media and maybe these parents would rather keep their little swaddled sweetie all to themselves. Or maybe the parents feel the photo is unflattering even though you think it’s cute.
9. Don’t change plans at the last second.
Promised to bring dinner? Bring it. Said you’d be there at 4 p.m.? Don’t text to say 3 p.m. is actually better for you. Your friends may have planned their day around what you promised and leaving them high and dry won’t just be annoying—it can be downright upsetting, especially for weepy new moms.
10. Don’t forget to wash your hands.
You’re perfectly healthy and you washed your hands right before you left home? Irrelevant. Enter the house and head right for the sink. Don’t touch that baby until your hands are scrubbed nice and clean.
11. Don’t give unsolicited advice.
You may offer your wealth of parenting knowledge only if the new parent asks a specific question, or she’s unknowingly doing something that’s dangerous for baby (and even then, be careful how you word your comments). Otherwise, keep your mouth shut. Everyone will be offering her advice at this time and she may feel overwhelmed.
12. Don’t ask prying questions.
If the lady who just brought a child into the world isn’t offering up her full minute-by-minute birth story, don’t ask for the details. Everyone is different and some birth stories are traumatizing—she could still be processing everything she went through. She’ll tell you what she wants to share when she’s ready.
13. Don’t forget about older siblings.
Big brother and sister are probably feeling a bit swept aside in the first few days. Show them some love by talking to them, playing with them and maybe even bringing them a gift too (a book or quiet activity to occupy them long enough for baby to eat is a gift for them and for mom and dad!).
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