Giving birth is a life-changing event and not just for mom and baby. Dads, siblings, pets, and everyone in between is experiencing a shift, and family and friends must acknowledge and respect that change. While everyone is likely excited to welcome a new member to the family, it is necessary to support and accept new parents’ wishes, even if you do not agree with all of them. As a friend or relative, you need to prepare yourself for possible expectations when visiting a newborn, especially amid the current health crisis.
How Soon Can Newborns Have Visitors?
The visitation schedule is different for every couple with a newborn. Some parents want to protect their baby from visitors for at least 40 days, limiting their exposure to other environments and people to preserve their growing immune systems. Other couples may want friends and family over as soon as a few days or within two weeks.
As a friend or family member, you want to respect the boundaries of the new parents. Ask them when it is OK to visit. Let them know how excited you are to welcome the new bundle of joy to the family, but stress that everything is in their control, no judgment.
Important Rules When Visiting a Newborn
Newborns are fragile and susceptible to infections, as are the mothers. Beyond specific health and wellness concerns, many parents wish to use this time to bond as a family. It is important to ask your loved one who just had a baby what they feel comfortable with as far as visitors go. Most parents will have expectations, but not all will be upfront about them because they do not want to hurt anyone's feelings. Always ask before a visit. However, if you ask, and the parents are dismissive or do not specify rules they want you to follow, you can always adhere to these five basic courtesies. .
- Always call before visiting
- Wash your hands before holding the baby
- Respect the parents' choices
- Check before bringing extra visitors
- Bring food or offer help
What You Should Not Do When Visiting a Newborn
The excitement of a newborn often overshadows some questionable decisions. For example, a newborn baby should never be exposed to cigarette, cigar, or vape smoke, but smokers often neglect second and even third-hand smoke principles. Chemicals that linger on your clothing or body can affect the baby. If you smoke, make sure you shower and wear clean clothes before seeing the baby. Beyond the don’ts of smoking, there are several other things to consider before visiting a newborn and their family.
- Don't use scented items (Perfume, cologne, hairspray, lotions, candles, etc.)
- Don't kiss the baby
- Don't take or post pictures without permission
- Don't yell or talk too loudly
- Don't visit unexpectedly
- Don't visit if you are unwell
- Don't overstay your welcome
Visiting a Newborn During COVID-19
Not every parent will be comfortable with having visitors during COVID-19, especially during the first couple of months of their baby’s life. Acknowledge that this is a hard time for everyone - especially new parents. If the parents decide visitors are okay during the pandemic, make sure you follow local guidelines and other basic rules. For example, wear a mask, do not kiss the baby, wash your hands before holding them, and, aside from adhering to local regulations, respect and adhere to the parents’ wishes. Remember that the parents are in charge and they know what is best for their baby. As a friend or relative, your opinion does not matter and certainly does not trump the parents’ wishes.
Whenever visiting a newborn, caution is key. Babies have few defenses in the first few months of their lives, meaning it is up to the parents, friends, and family to protect them. This is an exciting but also overwhelming time for new parents so be a supportive friend or relative and just make sure to show them and baby lots of love!