Everywhere I look, it’s babies, babies, babies. Last week, a friend had her first baby (after 42 weeks, bless her heart!) and it reminded me about those days post-delivery when you’re getting into your new baby groove. Figuring out breastfeeding, baby’s sleep schedule, and if you have other little ones sharing your attention and love. Sharing pregnancy excitement and swollen ankles, ultrasound pictures, bump photos on social media, and then first hospital pics and are enough to make us go, “Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
Once mama and baby are home, we are SO excited to come on over, cuddle that sweet new baby, and visit. While we look forward to these visits, they can be a source of stress for new parents. It can be overwhelming to be breastfeeding seemingly around the clock, dealing with the sudden onslaught of total sleep deprivation, hormonal cocktails bubbling over, and STILL new mamas and papas feel like they have to entertain when people come to “SEE THE BABY!!”
New parents do want to share their beautiful bundles with you. Really. But there are few things we as visitors can do to make our visit one where the parents are refreshed after you leave versus more exhausted. Here are our best tips to show some mad baby love to the new parents in your life, be helpful, and not a royal PITA.
- CALL/TEXT FIRST. Please ask permission to see if you can come over. Don’t ever “pop by” a home with a new baby in it. You never know how that household slept the day or hour before and if they’ve finally just crashed after a marathon breastfeeding session. Normally I love and am very pro-pop-in but not where it pertains to new mamas and papas. Just don’t.
- BRING FOOD. Or Starbucks. Or something those parents can use. When a rash of babes were born a few years ago, I brought a coffee and care package to all my mama friends. A new trashy magazine, a Maybelline mascara (hey, mamas like to feel sexy too even when we might not look it), and a bubblebath bomb. Food or groceries are also a great alternative. Be sure to include the cooking instructions and don’t put it in a container you “just have to get back”. PRO TIP: Homemade casseroles are great but don’t feel pressure to make something. Check out the ready-made meals at Supper Central. They are fantastic for new parents!
- WASH YOUR HANDS. I know you want to grab that baby and just “Mmmmmmmmmm” inhale that sweet, baby smell. But please don’t make the new parents look like paranoid freaks. Any and all baby handlers should wash their hands before holding the baby. It’s just good manners and helps keep newborns with new immune systems safe from your cooties. If you have young children, consider leaving them at home for the first visit. Youngsters can be carrying a virus and not seem contagious. And I can’t believe I have to say this but I will for all the parents who want to: If you are sick, not feeling well, even think you might be getting sick, please DO NOT visit a new baby and parents. That is not a friendly thing to do. It is a selfish thing to do. Wait until you are well to snuggle a newborn baby. That’s just smart.
- CELEBRATE SIBLINGS. If you’re bringing a gigantic diaper cake or other enormous gift for baby, please bring something small for siblings too. Little ones are dealing with enough feelings of jealousy, anxiety, and stress (even if they appear happy, their world has been changed forever). When I had my middle child so many thoughtful people brought a small toy or token for my oldest to make sure he felt special and loved too. It’s a gesture I’ve never forgotten.
- DO SOMETHING. I know it’s so tempting to just sit there and snuggle that baby. But it would be so super cool if you would, you know, run a vacuum or something. Ask if you can wash or put away dishes, run a load of laundry, fold something, and take a to-do off that new mama/papa’s list. I guarantee they will love you for it. Once you finished your chore, then you can volunteer to smell/snuggle that new baby while mama and papa go for a much needed nap. Maybe they need you to walk the dog. A small gesture can mean so much to tired new parents.
- VACCINATE YOURSELF AND YOUR KIDS. In the hospital, visitors are typically restricted to the family, and there are reasons why. Babies are born with no immunity to disease. This means they can contract illness from anyone they can come into contact with—and would you want to be the reason that sweet new baby got sick? NO. Here’s more information from immunize.ca
At any age, vaccination provides the longest lasting most effective protection against disease. But childhood immunization does not provide lifelong immunity against some diseases such as tetanus (lockjaw) and diphtheria.
Adults require helper, or booster, shots to maintain immunity. As well, adults who were not adequately immunized as children may be at risk of infection from other vaccine-preventable diseases. They can also infect others. For example, adults who contract measles, mumps or pertussis (whooping cough) can infect infants who may not yet be fully immunized.
- OFFER HELP, SUPPORT, AND KINDNESS. And here’s one more that is really, really important: According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it’s estimated that between 50% and 80% of mothers experience the “Baby Blues”. Post-partum depression is still under-diagnosed and grossly under-treated. Therefore, any help, support, and resource you can provide to a family with a new addition is a BIG help. Tell those parents you’d happy to come and sit with baby on Saturday so they can nap. You’d love to take the other kid(s) to the park to build snowmen while she enjoys the quiet. Every little bit counts. It does take a village. And although we have technology and all the comforts we can possibly ask for–a helping, caring hand still goes a long way.
7. DON’T KISS THE BABY. I can’t believe I have to say this, but I do. So I’m saying it for every parent who is totally skeeved out by you (or your kids) kissing a NEW BABY (and for all intents and purposes, new baby shall apply to any baby under a year old, mmmkay) with your filthy mouth. Sorry, does that hurt your feelings? Too bad. Don’t kiss babies that aren’t yours. Don’t kiss them on their faces or GAWD FORBID their lips. Ew. Gross. Not only it is completely unsanitary but you are literally putting that new baby at risk for any disease you might be carrying. And before you think I’m being hysterical, babies can and have died from a simple kiss.
8. LEAVE. I know, this sounds harsh. But do you how hard it is for someone who is tired, with aching breasts, a C-section scar that hurts to tell her guests that she LOVED seeing that now she needs them to scram? It’s hard. So try to remember, these first visits should be short and sweet. We tell new parents to sleep when the baby sleeps. This can be hard if mama is receiving guests though. So don’t overstay your welcome. Say your goodbyes so mama and papa can squeeze nap in or just a few minutes alone.
This post is to all the new mamas and papas who can’t say this all. We said this for you. Sharing is caring! We’ll gladly be your bad cop 😉