Etiquette for visiting a new baby
Visiting new babies is the best! Follow these guidelines to be an amazing friend and secure premium cuddle time with the new baby.
Visiting a new baby in hospital
Visiting a new baby in hospital is pretty straightforward - don't just turn up!
Always check with the new parents first!
Just because they sent you a birth announcement doesn't mean that they want all and sundry visiting, especially not all at the same time!
The timing of your visit will most likely be determined by how long their stay in hospital is. If your friend gives birth in a public hospital they may go home fairly quickly unless there are complications. If your friend is sent home the day following childbirth I would wait until they arrive home to give them a chance to catch their breath and also to let family visit first.
If they are in a private hospital then they will likely be there for 5 days. I would still reserve Day 1 for family visits.
Subsequent days are about mum and dad learning how to bathe, feed and care for their baby but during visiting hours it's all about showing off their gorgeous new addition. Despite this, don't just turn up! There are fours days worth of visiting hours so check with the parents because they might like to spread visitors over a couple of days. Also, if they are having trouble with feeding, feeling uncomfortable following a c-section or even just feeling that they are overwhelmed by the number of visitors, they might be trying to limit visitors to one of the visiting periods per day.
Remember, the better you coordinate your visit, the better your chance of getting a good cuddle.
If there are heaps of people, especially if they are family, you might miss out. Even a good friend would feel like a jerk for not giving the baby up for a new grandmother to hold!
- Text Mum or Dad to ask if and when it is okay to visit.
- Take a coffee order - all hospitals have cafes nearby.
- Check whether the new Mum needs anything from the chemist or even some new gigantic nanna undies to hold the humongous maternity pads in place! If you don't know about maternity pads yet then don't ask...ignorance really is bliss!
- Bring a small gift, keep in mind that the new parents have to take everything home in addition to their new baby when they leave so big, awkward presents are out! It's not a bad idea to keep a little outfit suitable for a girl and another suitable for a boy on standby when you are expecting some new arrivals. That way you are not rushing to find something before you can visit or resorting to the kitsch gift store at the hospital. Maybe we could help you with a present stash?
Visiting a new baby at home
Again the most important thing is to check first with the new parents!
Once you have a time locked in you can start planning. I would ask:
- Can I pick you up a nice coffee from your favourite barista?
- Is there anything that you need from the supermarket or the chemist? Sometimes even just a loaf of bread or carton of milk can be enough to save them a trip to the shops.
- Is there any room in your fridge or freezer so that I can bring over some meals?
Present wise, it is less important to bring a present for the baby when you visit at home. Visiting at home provides the opportunity to gift your time or meals. If you were to do a run to the chemist and bring over a meal or even snacks, that is fine just remember you are there to look after them, not the other way round.
Remember, in this situation you are not a guest.
Make the tea, do the dishes, hold the baby so that they can have a shower or do something that they need to do except they couldn't because they were holding the baby who doesn't sleep or latch properly etc. Keep your eyes open! If there are coffee cups scattered around, put them in the dishwasher. If there is a stack of dishes, do them! If your friend looks like they are on the verge, take them for a walk or better yet send them for a walk or a coffee with a magazine whilst you hold the baby for half an hour!
My friend Sal taught me a valuable lesson when she had a baby. Her husband, bless him, was really trying to help her by hanging out the laundry and emptying the dishwasher etc when he got home from work. She could see how much he was helping but she had to say, I love you and thank-you but what I actually need is a break from the baby. Apparently having a baby makes things like doing laundry a 'break'.
So, keep your eyes open and if nothing is obvious, just ask "What can I do to help?".
I hope this helps,