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7 Key Rules for Visiting a Newborn

Newborn babies are kind of really the best. They’re so snuggly and sweet, and have that new baby smell that is amazing. So it’s understandable that you want to secure all the baby snuggles you can when a loved one has a newborn. However, it’s important to be respectful of the huge life change that is happening to your loved one(s) and also be aware of the new baby herself.

Here are seven key rules for visiting a newborn, in no particular order:

1. Go over when it’s convenient for the new parents.

Having a new baby with a new schedule can be stressful. So work around their schedule and not necessarily yours. Recognize that while it’s nice to have visitors, it can also be an unsettling time, so be flexible and patient with the new parents. After all, they’re entrusting you to be around their brand new baby.

2. Always wash your hands and use sanitizer before touching or holding the baby.

This should be a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Always, ALWAYS wash your hands (and use hand sanitizer where available) before holding the newborn you’re visiting. Even if you washed your hands when you arrived, make sure you wash them right before you hold the baby, too.

3. No kissing!

I think we’ve all read the horror stories of inadvertently spreading the herpes virus to newborns. Refraining from kissing a baby on the face (or anywhere else, really) is just a good rule of thumb. And don’t stick your fingers in a baby’s mouth, clean or not. Ever.

4. Ask for permission before taking any photos, and don’t use flash.

It’s always a good idea to ask before you snap a photo of the new baby (and post it on social media), to be respectful of boundaries and parental intentions. Also, since using a flash can severely irritate a baby’s eyes, please remember to turn it off before snapping the photo.

5. Don’t bring your little kids.

While your kids are most likely adorable and pretty well mannered, leave them at home. Not only can the presence of additional people cause heightened anxiety to the new parents and baby, you also run the risk of spreading germs, whether your kids are sick or not. So save the play dates for when baby is old enough to interact.

6. Offer to help.

Whether it’s bringing a meal or treat with you when you visit or offering to help with other siblings while you visit, offering to help can be a great way to turn your visit into something that really aids your loved ones. Depending on the relationship you have with them, you’ll know what’s appropriate.

7. Don’t overstay your welcome.

While new parents appreciate the support and visits, it’s important not to overstay your welcome. The timeframe is again dependent on your relationship to the new parents. For instance, if you’re visiting your sister, you might be staying all day, helping her with various chores, tasks, or your other nieces/nephews. But if you’re visiting a friend, about a half an hour is probably more appropriate. Communicate with your loved ones and pick up on the vibe that is present when you visit. Always erring on the side of staying a shorter amount of time ensures that you’re giving the new mom, dad and baby space, and not stressing them out.

Author Info

Lauren Soderberg

Wife of one tall drink of water. Mama of two spunky kids. Lover of awkwardly long hashtags and unicorn emojis. And babies, obviously.

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51 thoughts on “7 Key Rules for Visiting a Newborn

wcmiller2017@gmail.com'

Chi

#2 goes without mentioning, but #3 and #5 are HUGE for me! No matter the relation to the new baby/ parents

Anonymous

Things have changed since most of us have had our kiddos. I know mine are all older. My son and his wife are expecting their first child which turns out to be twin girls and I support their descions as outlined above. I may not u serstand them but I believe they are just trying to protect their babies. And being first timers tjey are going to be a little nervous and anxious. If people do not like your rules then in my opinion they don’t need to come around. No I am not saying I won’t go around cause I have been waiting 15 years for a granddaughter and now I get 2 but I will call him first and they know I will help while there and I will Ben doing some of the babysitting when they go back to work. So people do t take it personally think of the little ones health and all the yucks that are out there

saramichelle87@gmail.com'

Michelle

Someone PLEASE fix and clarify this article that if you are visiting your sister – that means the MOM is your freaking sister!!!!!! Husbands sisters/ sister in laws, in laws to the MOM are in the friend category- sorry, stay a freaking hour or LESS! My vagina was just exposed to a hospital room of doctors, I don’t want to sit around my house and entertain in laws and especially sister in laws that think their brother had a baby- he did not, his penis is fine. My vag hurts, please leave. Lol! Please find humor in this comment and not hate- but find truth!

Anonymous

AMEN! but I also feel that way about the mother in law/grandma too. Maybe because mine aren’t as helpful as they should be. They come over and try to take over MY baby

stjacques@eastlink.ca'

Ron

Ensuring your own vaccinations are current should also be a must.

smwalsh12@gmail.com'

Sarah

Maybe someone’s already mentioned it, but if not – DON’T GRAB BABIES’ HANDS. My son has been sick with a runny nose and/or cough (he’s 3 months old) since the day he was born because sick grandparents and strangers feel the need to grab their tiny hands. I’ve had to flat out ask people to stop and go wash their hands and wipe my son’s. Sigh.

allicat3@comcast.net'

Allison

Listen you can’t be rude about it though. And you can’t blame the grandparents. It’s most important to assure the friends or strangers not to grab the babies hand unless they wash their hands. You can’t be rude about it either or they’ll definitely be rude back or start a fight.

jenna.l.milne@gmail.com'

Jenna

Ha! I can be as rude or nice as I want when it comes to the health of my baby. Be rude back? Who tf cares, I have a baby I freshly pushed out of my vagina. I’ll soeak how I please.

Anonymous

Yeah. I told this to grandma who was holding him at a baby shower. I said don’t let anyone touch his
Hands. She tried to dismiss it like no one was going to do it. Next 3 people walk up to her and grab his hands. My face….

New mama

I completely agree! However I would also add:

1. respect the parents’ decision if they want to wait a while before haVing visitors
2. Even if you are not coughing uncontrollably, no visits when you or anyone in your household is sick!
Newborns have absolutely no immune system!

B

This. My mother came to visit my 5 day old with a sinus infection, took her physically from my arms, and wouldn’t give her back for the whole time she stayed which was way too long

Anonymous

My mother in law does that. She did it the last time she stayed here and i almost had a breakdown. I was ready to kick her out. (Take baby from you and doesn’t give him back, i mean)

sblashford@hotmail.com'

Grandma

Well, actually, newborns get passive immunity from the mother, and continue to get it through breast milk.

BOBBIE

THIS IS OUR FIRST GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER DUE IN AUGUST AND I AGREE 100 %,I WOULD LOVE TO HELP THEM OUT ANY WAY I CAN AND THEY KNOW ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS ASK !AS FAR AS VISITING WITH OUT BEING INVITED I WOULDN’T BARGE IN ON THEM ,THEY NEED THEIR TIME WITH EACH OTHER AND TIME TO GET TO KNOW THAT SWEET BUNDLE OF JOY !

JoanneCordone@hotmail.com'

Mother2BeAgain2018

I was not confident with my first son, and people came over for hours, staying way too long. I was trying to breastfeed, and all I had was a screaming baby, who should have been fed sooner. And that was while I was in the hospital. Plus, I had pictures taken of me, even though I retained a ton of water just before he was born. Hated every moment. I just wanted to sleep when the baby slept, and learn how to feed him. Coming home, I put down my foot. Some relatives understood. Some did not. I was exhausted. This time, I am not telling anyone when we go into the hospital, and not posting anything online until I am ready. They can wait. The time we have with our newborn is precious. My husband is on the same page, and I am glad. Rules. Keep every rule, and add more. If that is what it takes to keep your sanity, and your newborn safe, go for it!. I have learned so much since my son was born, and the more I know, the more I understand. It is not OK to impose your rules on my newborn. My best friend actually got oral herpies from her unknowing mother, and suffered dental caries from her putting the pacifier in her mouth to clean it. This will not happen with my children. Yes please ask first. ~~ My snarky response: If you want to hold a new baby, have one of your own.

jolen50@bellsouth.net'

Joan

I agree with these rules. Babies are very delicate and prone to infections that people may have, and are not aware of them. Also, the mother has been through enough,and needs a lot of rest, so people should not stay long and give them a chance to get acquainted with their newborn.

sljlwaldrop@gmail.com'

Lynn

Dear M2BAgain – My daughter is due with her first next month and she’s told us we can’t visit for the first 4 days because that is time for her and husband and new baby to bond. So smart! I know most of us will respect that; hopefully everyone will

Anonymous

Why does everyone have to flock to the hospital? I would think out of common courtesy people would just wait until Mom reached out or gets out with the baby.
The hospital is for immediate family and grandparents. Very short visits at that.

007shannon.myrick@gmail.com'

Shannon Myrick

so not everyone agrees with the rules, do what you see fit for your family. I have 3 children 21, 17 and 13 and when they were young I didn’t consider all of these things and I lived with a big family. Being older and in today’s times, I love these rules an will be using them for all of my family and friends. There are a few exceptions and those that are excused will know otherwise I will do what is best for me an my household, no need to name calling and putting others down for their opinions.

rachelkrechel@hotmail.com'

Expecting Mother Who Plans on Using These Suggestions

It’s NOT over the top, NOR is it rude. What’s rude is thinking just because you’re family you can do what you want with someone else’s child. It is a VERY helpful reminder that after a child is born the mother is still healing ( and often breastfeeding), trying to bond with her new child, get a new schedule, adjust to lack of sleep, often times worried about keeping her little one safe & healthy among many other things. People should not overstay their welcome, assume they can take & post pictures without permission, but especially not kiss or put their fingers in another person’s baby’s mouth no matter how they are related or know them. Since some people lack boundaries and put their wants above others needs, this was an excellent article. It’s a shame not everyone can see its helpful advice.

Anonymous

Thank you for calling this out! This article is so drama.

Judith

We have been doing it all wrong for five generations of lots of babies. Everyone helped from day one of pregnancy in our very large families. We help with whatever is needed. Then we all wait together at the hospital and bring gifts for mom and baby. Then, as they get home we bring food, let Mommy sleep, clean, cook, visit and take care of baby while Mommy and Daddy rest and sleep. When they need their home back we quickly leave but offer babysitting time for any occasion that comes along.

Anonymous

Speak for yourself. I know people on both sides. I thought it was very helpful and right on point.

majestymv@msn.com'

MV

Agreed

Anonymous

Beautifully put

Anonymous

What the article should say is ASK. Ask if your visit would be welcome. Ask if you may kiss the baby. Ask, ask, ask. Not every new mom wants to follow your “rules.”

klehman2014@gmail.com'

KT

Most of these guidelines are pretty reasonable. Practice good hygiene and be courteous. Why is everyone so bent out of shape about that? Especially with people riding a hormone rollercoaster while sleep deprived. New moms can get pretty touchy.
I cared less about these things with my first child but as my second is still in the NICU, I fully plan on requesting a bit more careful treatment when she comes home.

dianacarla6@hotmail.com'

Diana

i can’t imagine having someone asking me if they can kiss my baby and then having to ask them if they are prone to cold sores or are sick. There is no reason you need to kiss someone else’s baby, just don’t ask.

shellychant@hotmail.com'

Michelle

Recovering from a c-section or vaginal birth can be painful and messy. Visitors should be compassionate towards the new mother and patient in their haste to visit the new baby. The new mother should not be shamed for letting her needs for privacy be known. Caring family members and friends can easily communicate and see if it’s a good time to come over to the hospital or not. Respect the recovery of someone who has just survived mental, emotional and physical triathlon and is learning how to breast-feed or take a much-needed nap.

Anonymous

What are your thoughts regarding etiquette on visitors holding your newborn? I’ve visited close friends at the hospital or when they are home after they had a baby and my experience had always been the mom always immediately asked me, “Would you like to hold the baby?”. I was visiting an in-law once at their home with my significant other (I’m personally not close with the mom, but my significant other is), and I found it incredibly rude because the mom did not ask me or my SO if we’d like to hold the baby (and yes, other people who visited them did get to hold the baby). I didn’t want to put the mom in a weird position, so I didn’t bother asking. I told this story to several people and I got mixed reviews, some said I should have asked, others said no the mom should have offered. If someone comes to visit you and the newborn, do you always offer to let them hold the newborn?

marjorieekennedy@gnail.com'

MK

Yeah, it’s not about you….or what you think is or isn’t not rude. Could this person just have been tired or maybe perhaps (gasp) NOT wanted either of you to hold her child? I think you totally missed the point of thus article.

Anonymous

Well my kids are grown 25 and 27 now we never worried about washing are hands or kiss the baby I really believe is important for the other family members to be involved and my kids turned out okay.

Kristi

I say keep your rears at home during cold and flu season, dont visit me at the hospital, and if you do not get the okay to visit and you do ring my doorbell, be prepared for my wrath, and once I’m done chewing you out, I will slam the door in your face. Oh an kissing my children is NEVER okay unless it is me or her father.

gkjluv@gmail.com'

Anonymous

You’re such a joy and a sweet one. Get many visitors?

celesta.elise@gmail.com'

Hazel’s momma

I’m glad that my hubby completely agrees with all of my rules. I don’t care what your family has done, and literally couldn’t care less what you think about our rules. Any visitors that refuse to wash their hands (or sanitize) or neglect to inform us before a visit need not come over.
Also: I know who in my family is sick more often than not, regardless of their job or the number of people in their house. You’re crazy if you think it’s better for those sickies to just touch a newborn instead of taking precautions.

Anonymous

Lol

aguillard232@gmail.com'

Great Grandma

Kiss newborn ONLY where “the sun don’t shine.” (or not at all). Bring cooked food for the family. Visit ONLY when the parents say it’s OK. And perhaps you can do laundry, sweep the kitchen, wash the dishes ONLY if parents say its OK. Run an errand. Cut the visit as short as possible.

Raised in a big family

Is this written by a first time parent? Or someone raised in the city? In our house, everyone comes in and out, no one uses sanitizer and there are always lots of other kids around the babies. Everyone gives lots of kisses, and is encouraged to do so, since touch is the best thing for the development of a child. Lots and lots of studies about it.

morgangs15@yahoo.com'

Mommato4

I can understand that you may feel this way about visitors but what you don’t seem to understand is that not everyone shares the same feelings as you. It has nothing to do with being raised in a big or small family or being from the city. In my big family from the country we try to respect the wishes of the new mother and we don’t let the little ones kiss the baby. Just because we are from the country doesn’t mean we are uneducated! It seems like you may be the person this article was intended for. Take some notes.

majestymv@msn.com'

MV

I’m with you big family equals lots of love and help.

Destiny bunzenall

I agree – people are too worried about the dreaded GERM that will surely kill us all. I’m one of 5 children and we’re still breathing without using oxygen tanks. My parents and similar families in our neighborhood were happy to hand that darling bundle of joy to anyone who could let them rest for awhile.

Anonymous

Thank you

ksims@comcast.net'

Kathy

And besure visitors have had a flu shot and DPT shot. Aunt Kathy

Raised in a big family

only if you want the people around your baby to have the flu virus when they visit.

Anonymous

Actually the flu vaccine does not include a live or shed-able virus.

Anonymous

Raised in a big family I couldn’t agree with you more!! We have 7 kids and from birth everyone’s welcome lots of hugs and kisses!

tesssasam@gmail.com'

Tess

I’am just very unlucky to have a partner like mine even though we just come home from hospital here’s everybody visiting the baby I was so pissed off because four night and four days off no sleeping every single day we have a visitor and he doesn’t understand about it If say no I’m the bad person.

nicolelupiani@gmail.com'

NLoop

The flu vaccine cannot transmit the flu. The flu shot can only be given to children 6 months and older, so if you are visiting a newborn during flu season, you SHOULD get a flu shot because the baby cannot. Infants can DIE from the flu because they get dehydrated very easily. You may be infeted with the flu virus and spreading it before you really start to have symptoms and then pass it on to thr newborn who has not been immunized. If you have any concerns about the FACTS regarding flu vaccination, I highly recommend you consult a pediatrician.

Chis

I came home from the hospital with my newborn and found a house full of family and nobody asked me. I completely understand.

sultanamujezic@gmail.com'

Chis

I completely understand I had a similar situation as well, I just arrived from the hospital with my newborn and found a full house of my husbands family members at home. Would have been nice to ask first.

Mimi

So be BE the “bad” person..you nees sleep and rest!