This one is not about you or your baby. It is about other parents and their newborns. It is about things that they wish you knew and followed when you visit their infant. It is about things that they wish you did not do, but were too polite to point out. In fact, in many cases, you might be confused yourself on what to do and not to do. So we compiled a list of do’s and don’ts, starting with whether you should visit the baby in the hospital at all!
Should You Visit A Newborn In The Hospital?
The easiest and best answer for this is NO, unless of course you are the closest family or BFF with the mother/father. In other cases, it is best to wait till the mom and child reach the comfortable surroundings of their home.
Please remember that the parents are very tired and sleepless in the initial few days. Especially if it is their first born. No matter how euphoric you feel and how genuine your wish to see the baby is, we would highly recommend giving the family some privacy in the hospital. Moreover, in most cases they will be discharged in a day or two. So you are really not missing anything. Or, in cases when there is a prolonged hospital stay (for instance, if baby has jaundice), it is still a good idea to not visit as the baby will be in neonatal care most of the time.
Things You Should DO When Visiting A Newborn
- Sanitize your hands: Your hands look clean, sure. But you must have touched multiple things since you last washed hands and that means your hands may be harboring incredible number of germs, which you might unwillingly pass it on to the baby when you touch them. So wash your hands clean just before touching the baby. You know what will be best? If you sanitize your hand in front of the parents so that they know your hands are clean too
- Visit early in the day: Do not visit in the evenings, even if it is convenient for you. As the days end, the parents will be at their weariest best. So the best time to visit the baby and mom is during the day. You could ask the parents to suggest a good time as well, however, this is a bit pointless as parents are in a confused haze most of the time. But if you do get a time, or commit to a time, then do not be late
- Help: If you are great at handling infants, offer to help. In fact, insist on helping. Hold the baby for a while or watch over the baby while the parents can get at least 30 minutes of “me-time”. If you are not good with babies, find out other ways to help, like cooking a meal or walking the pet
- Give useful gifts: Some of the not-so-good gifts are clothes (mostly wrong sized), gift vouchers (which parents have no time or energy to redeem) or baby creams and products (parents might have zeroed in on another brand). It is part of Indian customs to often gift money to the newborn, and it is really not a bad idea. It is easy for you and practical for the parents. You could also pool in with other friends and get something expensive and useful – like a pram or a crib. Of course, you have to inform the parents about this beforehand so that they do not get one too
- Give mom privacy during breastfeeding: Do not stare when the mom is feeding the baby. If you are a male, offer to go outside the room. If you are an experienced mom, see if the mom needs help and help only if you are absolutely sure it is required. New moms are vulnerable and might easily feel judged if you are not careful with your comments
Things You Should NOT DO When Visiting A Newborn
For reasons that are obvious, people tend to do more wrong stuff than right when visiting an infant. So here are things you should not do-
- No smoking please: This should be an obvious one. But if you are a smoker, please refrain from smoking the day you visit the baby. Although you are accustomed to the smell, the parents and the baby would not appreciate it
- Do not visit sick: Another seemingly obvious one. Even if it is a “harmless” common cold, do not visit the baby
- Do not take kids along, especially toddlers: Your kids, especially the smaller ones, will be excited to see a smaller baby. You might also want them to have that experience. But remember, this is not about you or your child. Toddlers tend to rough handle infants and while this might not really cause any harm, it might put the new parents in a spot
- Do not wake the baby: Just don’t. Even if you travelled 2 hours to see the child
- Do not judge: As we mentioned earlier, new moms are vulnerable. She is finding her way through this motherhood journey slowly. Do not pass judgements (e.g. “you are doing this wrong!”). Do not offer loud advices (e.g. “do not hold baby this way, hold this way.”). Instead, say something in a positive way if you must (e.g. “do you want help in holding the baby?”) in a non-condescending voice
- Do not kiss the infant: Yea they are cute and all that. But do not kiss the baby because we know that you have not sanitized your mouth!!
- Do not stay long: More than 30 minutes will be pushing it. Do not get chatty if the baby is sleeping – probably that is the only chance the parents can sleep a bit too
- Do not eat/drink while holding the baby: Another obvious one. Do not do this. Even if you are confident of balancing multiple things at one time