Newborn Visitor Etiquette

Etiquette for visiting a newborn baby

You have brought your little one home. This is the beginning of that blissful time of bonding with baby. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things in the way. You may not be feeling great. After all, you just squirted a human being out of your body, and it takes time for everything to get back to normal. Add that to the fact that your newborn baby doesn’t know that real human beings like to sleep when its dark. Then there are all the well-wishers who want nothing more than to congratulate you and hold that beautiful new baby.

Unfortunately, they come with germs and loud voices while they steal the few moments you had set aside to grab a nap after your total of three hours of sleep the night before.

You tell yourself: “I’m the parent. I make these decisions.” But it’s hard when grandma just wants to “help” and your best friend came all this way to “be there” for you.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways to remind your loved ones that your new baby needs you.

Set Down Your Rules…And Share Them

You are the parent now. That means you make the rules. You can take a hard line or treat it with a humor. If most of your friends and family are connected to your social media page, pin your rules to the top. (You know they’ll be checking in for baby pictures!) Here is a quick list offered with a little levity.

  1. Call ahead. If the doorbell wakes up the baby, you’re paying for college!
  2. Don’t visit if you’re sick. Any sneezers will be escorting from the premises by a cheerful HazMat team!
  3. Feel free to bring food! We haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in days and we’re running short.
  4. If you don’t like the fact that we named the baby Ebenezer Wenceslaus, then you aren’t up on hip new girl names! (So, keep it to yourself!)
  5. Didn’t bring a gift? No problem, we have immediate openings in our kitchen and laundry room!

Record Your Message

Don’t forget tech. Technology has evolved to the point where you don’t have to be a slave to that little ringing demon. You can ignore the call and let it go to your voicemail or answering machine. You can share your good news while setting some boundaries by recording a special “New Parent” message. Think about something like: “Hey, we’re bonding with Charlie right now. Leave a message and we’ll call back when he’s asleep.” Or you can go funny with something like: “Sorry, I’m trapped under a mound of dirty diapers. I’ll call back once I reach sunlight!” Or even “Please call back later! I need to talk to grownups!”

But these messages only work if you turn off your ringer and answer the phone when you want to make the time.

Signs of Change

Not everyone who you interact with is your friend. There are plenty of people that stop by your door every day. Sometimes, it’s not just the bell that can wake the baby. If you have a dog, that little bell may set up a barking jag that will wake up everyone in the house. While door-to-door salesman have largely disappeared, there are still plenty of people that threaten to ring the door bell from package delivery to the infamous meter reader. Disabling the doorbell is always an option, but you can forestall any problem by putting up a sign on your door, or doorbell that lets any potential guest know that your life has changed. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. “Shhhh! Baby sleeping.”
  2. “Forget the baby! The Mom’s finally sleeping! Ring the bell at your own risk!”
  3. “We have a new baby and a barking dog. Before you ring that bell, ask yourself; Do you feel lucky?”
  4. “Please don’t ring the doorbell. The baby will wake up. The dogs will bark. The Mom will start crying. And things will go downhill from there.”

Social Media

You can keep in touch with your family and friends through social media, letting them feel included while keeping it on your terms. Let them know how happy you are and how you are healing from childbirth. If you choose, share pictures of the baby. But most importantly, make sure you share your rules with them. Share the importance of this time of solitary bonding with your baby and let them know when you will be open to guests.

Don’t want to share your baby with the world? I don’t blame you. It’s now simple to start a private group and invite friends and family to join. This limits the number of people that can see, (or steal) your new baby’s pictures. You can even set up the group up well in advance of your delivery date to keep everyone up to date on your labor and delivery schedule.

Protect Your Privacy

You have every right to set up your household as you wish. Right after birth, you’re juggling a lot. There is physical healing from the birth process. You have hormonal changes as your body goes from carrying another person to only being responsible for one. You are not required to entertain every well-wisher that comes to your door for as long as they want to stay.

Make sure that you have made your desires about visitors known, whether that means you set specific times, or desire that friends call before they come. But even when your best friend has called, you may find it hard to let them know when it’s time to go. Family members should notice when you start to become tired, or the baby needs you. But not everyone is born with that level of sensitivity. You can let people know, tactfully, that it’s time to leave. You can let them know that you need to take the baby to another room to nurse or put him or her down for a nap. You can let the person know exactly how little sleep you have gotten and that it’s time for you and the baby to sleep.

If all else fails, you can ask them to start loading the dishwasher, or place a basket of clean clothes to fold while you tend the baby in another room. Taking advantage of another’s lack of tact is the best revenge.

But, ultimately, revenge shouldn’t be necessary. A new baby is a joy. Anyone who shares that joy should support you in this new phase of your life.