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A newborn visitation policy, whether written or committed to memory, is a total must.
You just brought your baby home from the hospital and now everyone wants to come and meet your little one.
I know that as a NICU nurse and former peds nurse, I overthink things a little when it comes to germs and babies.
But this is just one of those things I think every new parent should develop, regardless of whether you’re afraid of germs
My baby was born in the midst of flu season and I wasn’t too thrilled about it, especially after the horrible 2017-2018 season.
That being said, I decided pretty early on to limit visitors once the baby was born.
My out of town family will get to meet Cooper in the summer after flu season is over.
…instead of any of us having to travel by germy planes.
Nearby family can at least just stay home if they are sick.
All this being said, take it from me. You need a baby visitation policy!
Why you need a newborn visitation policy
Babies under three months of age have virtually no immune system.
Yes, your baby gets some immunity from you. But it’s very passive and it doesn’t last very long.
& think about this:
there are a ton of things that you don’t have immunity to that your baby can pick up!
& if you’re thinking that germs are good because that’s how we develop antibodies, you’re right and wrong.
In a strong, functioning immune system, antibodies are developed.
In an underdeveloped immune system (i.e. a newborn), the body can be attacked before it has time to make antibodies!
This means that one “harmless” infection can overwhelm your baby’s body.
You only get a short amount of time alone with the baby.
If you’re like me and live in the US, you’ve got 12 weeks or less to get into a routine and bond with your new baby.
So don’t feel bad about limiting visitors so that you get the time you need with your baby!
After 6 weeks of daily visits from grandparents, I finally was ready to get back to normal and to start working on my blog again.
I also needed some “me” time to recharge. Introverts are weird this way.
I had to let them know that they could only visit on certain days from now on so I could get some me time and get into a good routine with the baby.
Your baby needs rest anyway.
Don’t forget that babies need a lot of rest in the beginning of life. Visitors are going to be noisy or will want to see and play with the baby while he or she is awake.
I also think it’s hard for people to resist trying to keep babies awake, or to be more stimulating to the baby than is necessary.
I noticed early on that as soon as C started to get fussy, family members would start trying to make him laugh or smile rather than toning it down and getting him ready to nap.
One thing I’ve learned in the NICU is to leave the babies alone!! If they’re not crying, don’t bother them!
You need rest, too.
I repeat: you need rest, too! For a few days, don’t let anyone come over to visit with the baby unless it’s beneficial for you.
If they want to come over and clean for you – great!
But otherwise, don’t feel bad about telling people no so that you can recover from delivery and inevitable sleep deprivation.
I actually got shingles the first week after delivery and definitely felt the need to just be lazy.
My in-laws came over to take the baby and bring food, so I didn’t mind that so much. Whatever works for you is what you should do.
A baby visitation policy goes beyond just limiting visitors. Let your visitors know what is expected of them, too.
What to include in your newborn visitation policy
At minimum, visitors should be fever free for 24 hours.
Most day cares also adopt this rule, and it’s what we use in the NICU as well.
A fever is a sign that your body is fighting something.
Since we don’t know what that is, just ask people to stay away!
Wash your hands before holding the baby.
Let’s be honest. You have no idea when they last did it.
Sanitizer is fine for “clean” hands, but make sure anyone with dirt on their hands does some manual labor to get it off.
Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Like I said, our little one was born in the middle of flu season.
Even my husband, who HATES needles was required to get a flu vaccine.
Another recommended vaccine is the tdap booster, especially important for regular caregivers.
Again, don’t feel bad for requesting these things. It’s YOUR child and it’s ultimately up to YOU to advocate for them!
Limited # of visiting hours.
We need to rest. Make sure visitors know that visitation needs to be limited to short periods for a while.
My recommendation is three hours. That’s long enough for one feeding cycle before baby is inevitably back to sleep.
Visitors must be approved.
If you have the type of family members who like to just show up, make sure they know that this is a requirement!
You don’t want visitors when you’re lying around the house in sweats and an overlarge t-shirt with no bra on.
Or if you’ve been too tired or just don’t care to clean up the house.
That first week I had cracked and sore nipples so I was topless for most hours of the day.
Family made sure to check in and ask if they could come over rather than just showing up.
Hopefully you’ve got some things to think about.
Not everyone feels the need to be as strict about visitors.
Whatever works for you is always the right answer.
What policies are you implementing in your home? Drop me a comment below!