July 22nd, 2013

Baby Etiquette: Quick Tips for visiting newborns (and their sleep-deprived parents)

by Jacqueline Whitmore

When babies and new parents are involved, there’s a fine line between being friendly and breezing past those boundaries. Here are some tips on how to ace a visit with new parents and their bundle of joy.

Call ahead. Check and see when the new mother would like visitors. Don’t show up unannounced, keep your visit is brief, don’t show up empty handed, or expect to be waited on or entertained.

Skip the visit if you’re sick. Make sure that you are in good health and that everyone with you is well before visiting. When you arrive, don’t pick up the baby unless you have been invited to do so and be sure to wash your hands first if you have been invited to hold the baby.

Keep your advice to yourself unless asked. It seems like everyone has an opinion as to how to raise a baby. If the mother asks for your advice, be careful not to offer too much. That’s what pediatricians are for.

Focus on the mother and less on yourself. Be careful not to “one up” the mother’s labor and delivery experience with details of your own. Everyone’s experience is different and most people don’t want to hear the details of your delivery or share the details of theirs, anyway. That’s called TMI — too much information!

Names are personal. Regardless of what the baby is named (Stone, Apple, North), be gracious with your response to it. Naming a child is a very personal decision. And the name parents choose is usually one they love. To make curt remarks or disapproving facial expressions is an insult to the parents.

Respect the mother’s privacy. If the mother decides to breastfeed her baby, be sure to ask if she would like you to leave the room during feeding time. Also, in spite of the fact that women are more relaxed these days with breastfeeding in front of others, some visitors may not feel comfortable watching. Always ask if your guests or family members mind if you feed the baby in front of them.

I’d like to thank my friend and colleague, Karen Hickman, for coming up with these tips and allowing me to share them with my blog readers!

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