Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Visiting a New Mom and Baby
Baby has arrived! You're excited to meet the newest member of your tribe but before you head out the door...let's review these common mistakes to make sure you have a positive visit with Mom, Dad and baby.
Mistake #10 - Don't stay too long
Living with a newborn is exhausting. Entertaining while living with a newborn is downright draining. Everyone will appreciate quality time vs. quantity. Do: aim for 30 minutes unless you are helping out (like making dinner or doing laundry)
Mistake #9 - Don't make it a crowd.
Everyone might want to meet the baby but too many people can be overwhelming, noisy and tiring. Do: Spread out visits and if you have young children, it may be best to leave them at home for the first visit.
Mistake #8 - Don't expect Mom to entertain or clean up after you
Mom is tired and possibly sore. Don't expect her to do anything for you. Do: Offering to help her in any way possible. Clean up after yourself including any cups, dishes or garbage. Bonus points if you can take the decision making off the new parents. Try "I'd love to do the dishes, is that okay?" - "I'd love to watch the baby so you can take a shower/nap, is that okay?" If she declines - be understanding.
Mistake #7 - Don't show up without food
Everyone in the family is tired which means grocery shopping and cooking are activities that tend to come last. Do: Even if they tell you that you don't have to bring anything - bring something. Great options are freezer meals, snacks, fresh fruit/vegetables, comfort food and even gift cards so they can order out.
Mistake #6 - Don't ignore the siblings
We know you're excited about the new baby but ignoring big brothers and sisters when you arrive won't make anyone feel good. Do: Show extra attention and patience to older siblings. They are experiencing a big transition and could be having trouble with all of the attention that baby is getting.
Mistake #5 - Don't criticize...anything
It is a major mistake to show up to the home of new parents and make critical comments about parenting choices, the cleanliness of the house or how tired everyone looks. Do: Give praise and show empathy. Keep any stories about "we did it this way" to yourself.
Mistake #4 - Don't ask about more children
Everyone is adjusting to a new member of the family. This is not the time to ask if the couple will be having more kids. Do: Praise how beautiful they are as a family and offer to take photos of the parents with the baby.
Mistake #3 - Don't ignore Mom
Many new moms comment that after baby is born, it feels like they disappear. During the 9 months of pregnancy, people shower a mom with attention but after delivery, everyone seems to only ask questions and comment about the baby which can make a mom feel isolated. Do: Check in with Mom to see if there is anything you can do to help her. This is also a time when new moms can feel out of control and lost. Rather than volunteer advice, make sure she knows she can depend on you not only for helping with the baby but being open to hearing how she's feeling. This is not only important in the early weeks but throughout the first year.
Mistake #2 - Don't kiss the baby (or show up with a cold)
This seems like such a no-brainer but it needs repeating because it still happens way too often. A newborn baby has a new immune system so if you have any signs of illness or even allergies - stay home. If baby is asleep, don't expect anyone to wake him/her up so you can hold him/her. Do not kiss baby on the lips Do: Make sure you wash your hands before you are allowed to hold the baby. Be flexible with your expectations and let new parents lead the visit.
Mistake #1 - Don't visit unannounced (including to the hospital)
Always always always call or text (and wait for a response) before you visit. If the new parents are not ready for a visit - be understanding and don't push too hard. You can still offer to bring food, groceries, pickup/do laundry or offer to take the siblings for short outings. Remember this time is not about you - it's about supporting the new parents.
This one actually happened to me. My husband had been keeping his parents informed during labor and when he let them know that we were headed towards a c-section, my in-laws hopped in the car and came to the hospital without telling us. I was waking up in recovery (I had passed out during surgery) and had yet to even hold my son when the nurse informed us that my in-laws were waiting to come back. I might have been drowsy but it took me only a few seconds to decline. The nurse left and returned to let me know that my mother-in-law was fine if she was the only one allowed to come back. Without hesitation, I said, "No" again. My in-laws were not happy and despite the pressure to let them come in (since they had driven 45 minutes), we held to our goals of those first precious hours with our baby. This entire negative situation could have been avoided with a simple text message.
The best thing you can DO is communicate with new parents about their wants and needs during the early months with baby. Listen and be respectful especially when they are choosing to do things differently that you did.
And of course, enjoy any time you have with the new baby.