The Dos and Do nots of visiting a new baby.
When I first had my son I wanted everyone to visit. He was the sweetest little thing and naturally I wanted to show him off to the world and tell everyone all about my new life as a mum. So everyone came to visit. Some days I would have three separate groups of visitors. Everyone is excited for you and most really do mean well.
But many don’t understand just how hard being a new mum can be.
Even those that are parents themselves. How quickly you forget the three-hourly feeds!
Most visitors were amazing. They popped in for an hour or so, dropped around food and helped out around the house. A distinct memory I have is feeding my son while watching my best friend hang out our washing (with her toddler strapped to her front) and trying her best not to get them both tangled in the sheets.
But others? Not so amazing.
One group of visitors arrived two hours late carrying takeaway coffees just for themselves and a reusable Woolworths bag. At first, I thought ‘Great! They’ve brought supplies for lunch!’ but then I realised the bag was filled with their dirty laundry. There were issues with their machine and they needed to use ours. Completely true story. I wish I had a checklist like this I could have sent them before their visit!
If you are a mum-to-be this is a post you need to share around now as a (not-so) subtle hint to your friends and family. Because trust us, once you have visitors already in your house you will be too tired/polite to say anything.
DO keep your visit short.
As short as this paragraph.
DO bring food.
Food that can be eaten on the go or is easy to prepare. If you aren’t much of a cook or have limited time you can instead bring:
- A premade meal (I love the Harris Farm lasagnas).
- Ingredients to make a salad or sandwiches (that you will make when you are there; don’t let them host you).
- A meal voucher (Marley Spoon, Dinner Ladies, UberEats etc).
- If you are on a budget you must at the very least bring snacks. Even a bunch of bananas or a packet of crackers is very appreciated.
*If you bring a bottle of wine as a gift don't expect it to be opened. Throughout my pregnancy, I craved a red and thought I would be pouring a glass within days of my son's birth but it was probably at least six weeks until I managed a glass and it put me straight to sleep!
DO call when you are on your way.
Check if they want a coffee or need anything from the supermarket/pharmacy. They might have just realised they are out of something and you will save them such a hassle.
DO tell them who you are bringing with you.
Some friends might be completely comfortable being half-naked, unshowered and breastfeeding in front of you but perhaps not your partner. See below about bringing children.
DO keep your hands clean.
If they ask you to hold the baby make a point of washing your hands or asking to use hand sanitiser. Newborns immune systems are still developing so are highly susceptible to germs.
DO help out with chores.
Fold washing, unload/load the dishwasher, vacuum, walk the dog, pick up parcels from the post office. The chores I found the hardest to do with a new baby were the ones outside; hanging out or bringing in the washing, putting out the rubbish and recycling.
DO give their other kids attention.
If they have other kids sit with them, offer to read them a story, ask them about school. Offer to take them out to the playground for a bit etc. The other kids are also going through a big change themselves.
The Do nots
DO NOT arrive empty-handed.
There’s a reason why this one is Number 1. This doesn’t mean you must bring a gift but you must bring food or coffees.
DO NOT be late.
Newborns feed a lot. And for long sessions. Babies are unpredictable but we often try our best to feed before visitors were scheduled to arrive so we could easily answer the door and so that the first time you meet our precious baby it's not with when they are attached to our boob. Or we plan in our head when we will be able to nap based on when visitors would have left by. If you arrive late this really throws the schedule out the window!
DO NOT visit if you are sick.
This should be obvious.
DO NOT visit if you are hungover.
And if you are, keep it to yourself. No new parent wants to hear about how sick or tired you are. We. Do. Not. Care. Especially do not take a nap if you are hungover.
DO NOT bring your own kids.
Try to leave them at home. If that really isn’t possible make sure you keep your visit very short. Just enough time to give them a hug, get a glimpse of the baby and hand over supplies. An exception is if the new parents also have kids and they will play together.
DO NOT ask inappropriate questions.
Us new mums are sensitive souls! ‘Did you have a natural birth?’, ‘Why aren’t you breastfeeding?’ and ‘Is he sleeping through the night?’ are all inappropriate questions.
*FYI babies have tiny stomachs and big appetites so don’t sleep through the night for a really long time. Sometimes years!
DO NOT tell the new mum how awful they look.
We know we are tired, we know we haven’t had a decent shower or washed our hair in weeks. We know our outfit is daggy and that there is vomit on our shoulder. Instead, tell them what an amazing job they are doing.
DO NOT leave a mess behind.
Wash any dishes you use, tidy up any mess your kids have made.
Don’t distance yourself now that you’ve met the baby. Everyone visits in that first month and then when the adrenaline wears off and the exhaustion really hits… crickets. Not a soul.
This is when your new mum friend needs you the most.
Keep checking in on your mum friends, reply to their messages, like and comment on any photos they post online. Bring another lasagna, take them out for coffee and ask if you can take the baby for a walk so they can have a much-deserved break!
Anything we’ve missed? Add your comments below.