I will be the first to admit that I was clueless about everything baby related before actually producing a child from my loins (or something like that… I think that’s how it’s said but you get the general idea).
I mean, like most things, I’m sure I heard a lot of advice on things baby-related, but I chose not to pay attention to it since it didn’t directly pertain to me. This (of course) was a mistake because I’m sure I could have been a way better friend to those new-parents in my life.
That being said, I think that everyone can use a little advice on how to act around new parents, or even how to act around others as a new parent, so here it goes, tips for visiting new parents!
(And please keep in mind, rules are meant to be broken, so if you’re a new parent, feel free to break these rules. However, if you’re visiting a new parent, I advise you to stick to these unless you’re told otherwise!)
1) Wait a few weeks.
If you are not an immediate family member or a super-close friend, wait a few weeks before asking when you can drop by to see the new addition. However, I don’t recommend waiting for the new parents to invite you over. I loved it when people were enthusiastic about meeting Clara, but our schedule was PACKED in the first month and we sometimes hosted multiple guests per day, which is just really, really tiring. My advice is mentioning that you can’t wait to meet the little one, then wait a few weeks and ask if there’s a date when the family is free to have you over.
As soon as Clara was born, I turned my phone on silent and it’s stayed that way. I only want to deal with phone-stuff when I decide I’m available, which is actually pretty often because breastfeeding is quite the process! Who knew that babies take so long to eat?! Anyway, phone calls are hard for me to answer still, but were especially difficult that first month when I was either holding Clara or attempting to put Clara down for a nap or playing with Clara or feeding Clara… I mean, I just didn’t have a ton of time to sit and chat! However, I could quickly text back! So, when arranging plans, just text, even if you normally prefer phone calls. Don’t be offended if you have to text more than once before you get a response… those first few weeks went by in a haze and I’m fairly certain I still owe some people a text back – whoops! Also, text when you arrive for your visit! The baby may be sleeping so the door bell is not generally a good idea.
3) Visit during the day.
We got a ton of sleep when Clara was a newborn, because all she did was sleep for the first month or so… actually it’s still what she does a majority of the time, let’s be honest. Anyway, even though I wasn’t sleep deprived, we still slept at kind of odd hours. I really cherished our night times together as a small family when we could just watch a movie and gaze at our little one by ourselves. Occasionally I really enjoyed hosting dinner guests and after-dinner guests, but I would have been exhausted if it was an every night or even every other night type thing.
4) Bring something. Anything.
I recommend bringing a little toy or outfit for the little one, but then also something for the mom and dad. We had a ton of people bring us food, which I loved. However, I think it would also be nice to ask if the new mom/dad needs anything from a store you’re already running an errand at. If you’re going to the grocery store or Target the day before visiting, send a text and ask them if you can pick something up for them. Sometimes it was a struggle to leave the house, and the new family may need a gallon of milk more than they need lasagna. Or you could bring them both! Exception: If you’re coming over for lunch or dinner, BRING THE FOOD to share.
5) Wash your hands.
It’s fine if you aren’t afraid of germs, but understand that new parents have a reason to be, it turns out that new babies are delicate! Just do everyone a favor and wash your hands as soon as you get into the new parents’ house, or find the hand sanitizer and use that. It’s awkward to need to ask guests to wash their hands, so it saves everyone the trouble if guests take the initiative! I’ve found that most guests know this etiquette, but if visitors came over and didn’t immediately wash their hands and reached for Clara I just said something like, ‘Oh of course you can hold Clara! Oh wait, would you mind using the hand sanitizer first?!’ They wont’ be offended, I promise.
6) Have an end time in mind.
Go over with a game plan of when you should leave, and leave earlier if the parents are looking super tired or if the baby is fussy. This goes for the new parents, as well! Clearly communicate (as politely and directly as possible) when you need guests gone by. This can be super easy! Just say ‘Oh, we’ve found that Little Baby goes to bed the easiest around 8pm and we like to give her a bath before then, so we’ll probably have to end our game night around that time, just warning you!’ If your guests are over-staying their welcome, it’s kind of up to you to get them out of your house, but if you are the guests, try to be understanding and make an exit before the parents have to ask you to leave.
Even though there are definitely more things to keep in mind when visiting a new family as opposed to visiting the pre-baby couple, the most important ‘rule’ is to make an effort to visit the new family at some point. They will appreciate the love you have for their little one, I promise!