Dos and Don’ts of Visiting Newborns
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Dos and Don’ts of Visiting Newborns

Those precious little fingers and toes, that one-of-a-kind newborn smell, and, the oh-so adorable way they yawn… it’s hard to resist the lure of a newborn. But before you load up your car with gifts and casseroles, take a moment to review the following tips that will make you a welcome and wanted guest.

  1. Visit when it works for the family
    New parents and babies have unpredictable sleep and wake schedules. Reach out well in advance to ask what day or time might work best for a visit. Check in the day of your planned visit to ask if it’s still a good time. If it’s not, be patient and don’t take it personally. You can be sure that no one is looking forward to a routine schedule than the new parents.
  2. Be respectful
    When you arrive for a visit, always ask about any rules the new parents might have in place related to visiting the baby. Even if their rules seem strange or unnecessary, follow them. This is not your place to question the very personal choices being made by others at a very stressful moment in their lives.
  3. Only visit when healthy
    What you consider to be just a little sniffle has the potential to be a
    big deal to a newborn. Never visit if you’re sick or have been recently exposed to someone who is ill. Waiting just a few days to make the little one’s acquaintance could help prevent the spread of a potentially life-threatening virus.
  4. Wash your hands and use sanitizer before handling the baby
    Newborns are very susceptible to illness. Always, ALWAYS wash your hands with warm soapy water or use a hand sanitizer before holding a newborn. Repeat this each time you ready to hold the baby.
  5. Do not bring small children to visit
    No matter how well-behaved or clean your children are, they’re not ideal visitors for newborns and their families. Little kids are often exposed to lots of germs and viruses. While their bigger bodies can fend them off,
    newborns may not be so lucky. Plus, who needs the family lore of the time your kid gave the baby a goose egg on the noggin while “making nice” with a rattle.
  6. No kissing (yet)
    This one can be tough but it’s important: to prevent the inadvertent spread of germs, refrain from kissing newborns—at all.  Babies are especially susceptible to infection because their immune systems aren't fully functional. While you can coo away at this tender stage, keep your kisses to yourself for a few more months.
  7. Let new parents do their job
    If, while you’re holding a baby (with your immaculately clean hands), it begins to cry, return it to its mother or father for consoling. Resist the urge to walk off while bouncing the baby or offer advice on how you’d handle the situation. Let the new parents find their own way and respect their choices. If the baby’s extra fussy, ask what you might do to help—laundry, dishes, walk the dog or play with older children—while they sort things out.
  8. No Smoking
    First-, second-, and even thirdhand smoke from cigarettes, cigars, vapes and marijuana can all harm a newborn’s developing lungs. If you smoke, refrain from doing so while visiting a newborn’s home (even outside). You also want to be sure to wear clean clothing that’s free of smoke residue or odor.
  9. Be photo sensitive
    Always ask permission before taking photos of someone’s baby and make sure it’s okay with the parents to post them on social media or to share with others (including family members). If you do take photos, be sure to turn off the flash feature on your camera or phone so as not to startle the baby or hurt its eyes.
  10. Don’t overstay your welcome
    While you may not be able to get enough of the new baby, it’s possible the new parents will want to keep visits short. Unless the parents have asked you to stay longer, plan to keep your visit under 30 minutes. Be sensitive to any cues the parents may share and follow their lead.

 

Bridget Bromirksi, PNP, is a nurse practitiomer at SVHC Women’s and Children’s Services Department.

 

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