Rules for Visiting Newborn: 31 Dos and Do Nots To Follow

Commencing the arrival of a new infant is a cheerful occasion that you may have been anticipating anxiously since the soon-to-be parents first announced their pregnancy news.

However, visitors would do well to remember that as thrilled as new parents will be on the inside, they may still be too exhausted and overwhelmed to stay awake during the newborn visit (let alone able to entertain/cater to guests!).

Let’s learn some of the all-important Dos and Definitely Do Nots when visiting a newborn… 

1. Don’t Show Up Unannounced

This is annoying no matter how old your children are — but when they’re only a matter of days or hours old? You’re really playing with fire here.

Consider the whirlwind of responsibilities the new parents are still learning to acclimatize to, and politely ask them when they’ll be ready for visitors.

2. Do Not Visit if You Are or Have Been Sick

Parents don’t want their precious and fragile infant being cooed at by someone in the throes of a cold or flu.

Even catching a harmless common cold will mean an extra fussy baby and more sleepless nights, so don’t expect a second invite!

3. Ask if You Can Bring Anything

Do a favor for the time-strapped new parents, and ask if they’re in need of anything (groceries, diapers, extra sanitary pads for mom, etc.).

Even if they politely refuse, bring something along you know they’re in need of. Alternatively, bring a nice welcoming token of flowers or chocolates.

4. Bring a Meal for the Family

Once a baby comes along, preparing healthy, nutritious meals becomes an ambitious chore for mom and dad.

Help remove this extra stressor by taking a home-cooked meal over to their house. Be sure to find out about any dietary restrictions beforehand.

If you lack the time to bring over a homemade meal, you could alternatively get them a gift card so they can enjoy takeout or delivery whenever they like.

5. Bring Something Special for Mom or Baby

While baby supplies make a fine and practical visiting gift, going the extra mile with something made just for the baby or new mom can be especially thoughtful.

Things like a plush pair of slippers for mom or a foot-and-hand print kit to cement cherished memories of their little one’s first weeks are just some suggestions!

6. Do Not Expect To Be Waited On

Some parenting corners of social media may be awash with how to throw a great “sip and see” (newborn visiting party), but this is definitely NOT realistic for every new parent.

It’s important to keep your expectations low. New moms and dads have too many mental tabs open at once to offer you a drink or a tray of homemade cookies.

7. Be Willing To Help With Chores

Fawning over the adorable new baby may be the premise of your visit, but once you’re there, it’s nice to make yourself useful by helping out with a bit of housework.

Even just taking the garbage out or doing a few dishes will probably be greatly appreciated.

Grandparents happily washing dishes together.

8. Respect the Parents’ Wishes

Even if the way the parents do things seems odd to you, try to respect their needs and go with it.

They are in the most demanding role ever, so don’t make anxieties worse by refusing to remove your shoes before entering or something else in opposition to their requests.

9. Shower and Wear Clean Clothes 

Newborns are vulnerable to colds and infections, and while we’re not suggesting skipping one shower or wearing grubby clothes is sure to make the baby sick, it doesn’t hurt to visit the baby in fresh, clean attire.

10. Skip Perfume and Scented Lotions

You can afford to give your usual perfume, deodorant, or other heavy-scented beauty product a miss (that goes for scented moisturizers and shower gels too).

Heavy odors may not only distress the baby, but if mom still has lingering nausea or sensitivity to smells after pregnancy, then guests wearing anything other than soap and water may not be welcomed!

11. Do Not Smoke

This should go without saying. Unfortunately, some visitors (perhaps of a different generation) may think second-hand smoke does little harm to babies.

Third-hand smoke (pollutants settled on clothing/hair from someone else smoking in the home) should also be considered when visiting a newborn, so take care to shower and wear fresh clothes before heading out the door.

12. Keep Your Voice Down

You may be super excited to see the baby, but don’t let your eagerness have all the grace of a stampeding rhino.

Speak in hushed tones when you enter, not just because baby may be asleep but also because they may be startled by new voices.

13. Compliment the Mother

With all the demands of a new baby, it’s easy for mom’s agency and identity to get lost in it all.

Paying the mother a compliment or letting her know you care can make her feel more visible.

It’s as simple as asking how she feels or telling her how proud you are to see her become a mom.

14. Do Not Wake a Sleeping Baby

You may have been hoping for a cuddle with the baby, but you have to let that go if they are asleep once you arrive.

Mom and dad may have tried for hours to get him/her to fall asleep (this is often the time when mom will be wanting a much-needed nap too).

15. Ask Before Picking Up the Baby

In your zeal to admire the cute new bundle, it may be tempting to pick them up for a cuddle without asking. This is a huge no-no.

It’s well-meaning to assume that the mother is happy to have the baby taken off her hands, but mom and baby are trying to forge a precious bond, so it might upset her to have the baby passed from person to person without permission.

A young woman visiting a new mother and her newborn baby.

16. Wash Your Hands 

It’s not too much to ask for clean hands before getting close to a newborn.

Even with good hygiene, we all carry some form of germs or pollutants from outside, so show the parents you care by giving your hands a quick wash or using hand gel before greeting their baby.

17. Remove Jewelry

If you’re given permission to come close to the baby or hold them, it’s courteous to remove any jewelry you’re wearing first.

Dangly earrings, long pendant necklaces, and chunky rings may be carrying germs, and any sharp edges could be dangerous.

18. Don’t Kiss the Baby

You never know whether you may be coming down with a cold, so err on the side of caution and don’t kiss the baby.

Aside from passing on potential germs, kissing may irritate babies, especially when they are only used to mom/dad’s kisses.

19. Do Not Eat or Drink When Holding the Baby

Holding the baby should be an immersive experience involving no other distractions, so make sure you’ve finished drinking or eating before going in for a cuddle.

It is rude, and the baby didn’t ask for the over-powering scent of your coffee breath or food crumbs.

20. Don’t Bring Your Children

New parents are already going to feel overwhelmed by the visitors they’ve agreed to see in advance. Don’t compound the stress with uninvited guests, especially unpredictable, loud, and messy guests.

Even if you bring the most well-behaved kid on the planet along with you, it’s still pretty rude if they weren’t invited. Remember that this is a newborn visit, not a birthday party.

21. Keep Unsolicited Advice to Yourself

If you’re the visiting grandparents of the precious new bundle, it can be tempting to pass on pearls of your own parenting wisdom.

However, try to remember that they have probably heard it all and then some in their preparation for having the baby, and even if they haven’t, they will surely ask your advice if they need it.

22. Respect Their Parenting Choices

Every parent or set of parents does things differently and in a way they believe is right for their children, so respect their decisions and keep unsolicited suggestions or criticism to yourself.

A grandma meeting and holding her grandson for the first time with the new mom ready to help.

23. Let the Mother Take the Lead in Conversing

Some women enjoy answering questions about their labor, breastfeeding decisions, parenting choices, etc., but others are not as forthcoming.

Rather than pepper her with questions, wait to see what she wants to discuss. If she wants to share personal details or ask for advice, she will.

24. Watch for Cues That Baby Is Hungry

If you’re not familiar with children, you may not realize that a crying baby is actually a late cue for hunger, but if you know how to spot the early signs, this can make things a lot less stressful for mom.

The first signs of hunger to spot are things like searching for the nipple, becoming restless/fidgety, and putting their fingers in their mouth.

25. Give Crying Baby Back to Mom

Moms need time to bond with and learn their baby’s cues and needs, so if the baby starts crying and you’re still holding them, try not to think you know best by keeping hold of them.

Newborns need lots of skin-to-skin contact at this early stage, so let mom do her thing and hand a crying baby back to her.

26. Show Common Courtesy if Mom Needs To Breastfeed

Those unfamiliar with children can be forgiven for not knowing what to do when a mom begins to breastfeed, but the kindest thing you can do is ask what her preference is.

She may prefer to breastfeed in private (this is an ideal time for you to wash some dishes, take older kids out for ice cream, walk their dog, etc.), or she might want to continue chatting.

Showing you feel uncomfortable will make mom feel uncomfortable, which is the last thing she or the baby needs, especially if there are latching issues.

27. Clean Up After Yourself

The whirlwind of a newborn can mean the house quickly becomes a mess, but don’t assume that it’s okay to leave your own mess simply because it will blend in!

Do the courteous thing, and mop up a drink spill you create or put objects back where you found them.

28. Ask What You Can Do To Help

Baby-welcoming gifts are great, but there’s no greater gift you can give to a new parent than offering to help with chores, errands, and life in general.

Ask them if they need help feeding or watching their pet, dropping off or collecting older kids, doing housework, or watching the baby while mom or dad grab some shut-eye or a shower.

29. Don’t Forget About Older Siblings & Dad

Older siblings can have a hard time adjusting to the adorable new addition — even more so when a bunch of visitors come to “ooh” and “aah” at their new rival.

Show them some attention and offer to play with them for a little while. Don’t forget to show the father you’re thinking of him too by asking how he’s coping.

30. Refrain From Posting Pictures Unless Given Permission

This isn’t a puppy you’ve seen wearing a cute hat — there are certain boundaries you shouldn’t step over, and snapping a quick photo of a newborn baby for your grid (without the parent’s permission) is a big one.

31. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome

Finally, try to keep your visit short and sweet. Unless the parents expressly ask you to stay, be considerate of the fact that they are exhausted and there will be other friends and family members lining up to see the baby.

Closing Thoughts

Visiting a newborn is a fun and exciting time, but don’t neglect to consider the parent’s needs and wishes in all this.

A kind offer to help out with household chores or cook a meal goes a long way — as does asking them how they’re adjusting to life as a parent!