Tips for Visiting a Newborn Baby
Top Tips for Visiting a New Baby (So You'll Get Asked Back)
October 26, 2022

Top Tips for Visiting a New Baby (So You'll Get Asked Back)

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Top Tips for Visiting a New Baby (So You'll Get Asked Back).
Top Tips for Visiting a New Baby (So You'll Get Asked Back)

It finally happened. You got the news you’ve been waiting for for months.

The new baby has been born!

Your first instinct might be to find out exactly when the parents can bring their baby home from the hospital so you can plan your arrival exactly 30 seconds later. After all, seeing a new baby is thrilling!

Before you make any plans, remember that new parents have just been through a lot. They may also be sleep-deprived and overwhelmed. And new moms are still physically trying to recover while hormones are racing through their bodies.

Ask yourself this all-important question: How can you make your visit as easy and relaxing as possible for the parents? After all, if you win over the parents by being a delightful guest, they’ll want to have you back to see the baby a lot more often!

Prepping for Baby’s Arrival

You might want to initiate a conversation about your first visit even before baby arrives. Preemptively check in with the parents to see if they have any thoughts about their visitor policy. Ask if they have any health or vaccination requests for guests. See if there’s anything you might be able to take off their plate during that newborn haze, like making frozen dinners or scheduling a cleaning service.

Gently opening the lines of communication shows your dedication to supporting the family during this transitional period.

Arriving at home with a new baby–especially for first-time parents–is a very “vulnerable” time, said Michelle Goitia, parent educator, postnatal doula and owner of JC Bump & Baby in Jersey City, New Jersey. So even though the purpose of your visit is to meet the baby, focus on what the parents may want or need, especially in those first precious days or weeks.

The pressure of preparing food or cleaning the house while caring for a demanding baby can be intense. “The biggest concern for new parents is that they feel like they have to entertain anybody that comes to their house,” said Goitia. You can relieve parents of some of that pressure by volunteering to bring coffee or reassuring them in advance that you don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet for you.

When is it Safe for Family and Friends to Visit a Newborn?

“Once babies are discharged from the hospital, we can assume that they’re healthy and can be around family,” said Emily Silver, a family nurse practitioner and founder of NAPS (Newborn & Parenting Support) in Boston, Massachusetts. So there are technically no medical restrictions to visiting a healthy baby the very minute they arrive at home. If the baby experienced complications at birth and/or has spent time in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU), their pediatrician may have stricter rules or guidelines for newborn visits, depending on the health of the baby.

Regardless of the baby’s health, Silver cautioned, your ability to visit a newborn really comes down to the parents’ comfort level. “Everybody’s risk tolerance level is different, especially in a pandemic or cold and flu season,” she said.

Some parents might want everyone to visit and help them adjust to newborn life. Others might only want very close family visiting right away. Some parents might ask you to update your vaccinations for Covid, whooping cough or the flu. Or they might insist that visitors wash their hands and wear a mask.

“I don’t think there’s any right or wrong answer to all those layers. It just comes down to personal preference and their threshold of risk tolerance,” said Silver.

It can feel frustrating to wait days, weeks or even months to visit when all you want to do is rush in to hug the parents and hold the baby. If you find yourself in this position, know that most parents are not trying to push their friends and family out of their lives. Rather, they are trying to protect their brand-new family unit by limiting exposure to germs or simply spending time together to bond.

If your ultimate goal is to visit the new baby early and often, it’s best to graciously adhere to the parents’ wishes. Once parents understand that you’re on their side and have their family’s well-being in mind, they may be more open to having you visit in the future.

Help Out Where You Can

In her “Grandparent Bootcamp” sessions, Silver teaches family and friends that there’s a big difference between being a visitor and being a helper.

“A visitor is someone who makes you feel like you have to tidy up, put out food or put on a bra,” she said. “Being a helper means that you’ll do things that make the parents’ day a little easier. Look for unfinished chores that are right in front of you that you can just do without being asked.” Putting away clean dishes you see on the drying rack is one example of this.

The tricky thing about being a helper is that parents will need help in all sorts of different ways. One family might be desperate for you to fold their giant pile of laundry. Another might be horrified that you’ve seen their been-there-for-a-week wrinkly clothes. One mom might be thrilled to hand off the baby to you to hold so she can shower in peace. Another might prefer to hold the baby herself while you sit and catch up on all the gossip.

When in doubt, ask the parents what they need in clear, easy-to-accept language. You might say something like, “I’d really love to help make things a little easier for you today. Would you rather that I fold those sheets, run out to get those stamps you need from the post office or keep an eye on the baby so you can nap?”

The Secrets of a Successful Newborn Visit

You’ve talked to the parents, you’ve prepped for baby’s arrival and you’re in the helper mindset. Now, how can you make your visit such a smashing success that parents will be dying for you to make regular return visits?

  1. Ask the best day and time for your visit, giving the parents the option to cancel at any time. It can be difficult for parents to make concrete future plans, so decrease their stress levels by remaining as open and available as you possibly can. You might even want to check in before you leave your house to make sure it’s still a good time for a visit.
  2. Show parents that you prioritize limiting baby’s exposure to germs by taking off your shoes and washing your hands as soon as you enter the house. Parents will respond favorably to your efforts.
  3. Consider putting an end time on your visit. After you’ve spent an hour with the family, ask the parents what would truly be helpful: would they like you to stay another hour, or is it better to come back another time? This may make your first visit shorter than you would like, but you’ll be playing the long game in demonstrating that you won’t overstay your welcome in the future.
  4. Ask the parents how they are doing. Goitia noted that the focus is on parents during pregnancy, and after the baby arrives, parents get dropped “like a hot potato.” Of course, you’re there to meet the eight-pound guest of honor, but remember to give some love to the parents, too.
  5. Support any and all feeding choices and preferences. Feeding can be a touchy subject. Some moms will feed their kids in public without blinking, while others prefer to nurse in private. Silver recommended saying, “Let us know when you’re getting ready to feed the baby and we will go in the other room to give you privacy.” Moms may take you up on the offer or they might not. Either way, you’re again demonstrating your thoughtfulness.
  6. Find something specific to compliment the parents about, like their ease with soothing the baby or the gorgeous way they decorated the nursery. Tell them how proud you are of them for handling this major life transition with grace.

What Should I Bring When I Visit a Newborn?

The short answer? Food. Our experts said that you can’t go wrong bringing food (in containers that don’t have to be returned, of course). This is especially true if you’re visiting a baby who is more than three weeks old. Families tend to receive a lot of food at first, and then the meal train comes to an end.

But interestingly, Goitia and Silver said that what parents need most isn’t stuff–it’s you.

“Remember that you are walking into someone’s home and they quite possibly were up all night the night before. They might be on the verge of crying because their nipples hurt. Just walk in and be present,” said Silver. Sure you might want to bring a small token of your excitement to meet the baby, but overall, she said, “don’t worry about the ‘stuff.’”

Regardless of when or how you first visit baby, remember that this is only the very beginning of your relationship. So if that initial meeting doesn’t go exactly as you hoped or planned, don’t sweat it. This is only the beginning of the journey.

Once you lock eyes with that precious little one, all of the uncertainty will disappear. The details about how soon you first met or whether the casserole you made was too salty will fade away, and all you’ll take with you is the magic of that first connection.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.