Until recently, I didn’t have much experience with babies. Even when I knew it was coming, I still stayed away from friends with babies, because I felt I wouldn’t know what to do. I was sure that when I had my own, I’d figure it out.
This is true. You do figure it out.
But, hey, it might be that you’re visiting a friend with a baby (like us for example, please come and visit), and you haven’t had your own sprog yet. How do you behave? Here is a handy guide.
Say hello to mum. If not first, then at least second. It’s easy to forget, what with the baby.
Wash your hands before touching the baby. Golden rule, no exceptions.
Don’t take the baby. Ask, if you want a hold. But not straight away. Let the baby get used to you. Babies have a phase called “stranger anxiety”. If the baby screams at you, back off and give it time.
If the baby cries, keep clear. This can be a stressful time for the parents, especially with a guest present. Don’t hover, don’t help, just stand back and amuse yourself. Maybe take a walk.
Be prompt. You have no excuse not to be on time. We might be late – we have a baby. But don’t leave us hanging around waiting on you. It’s surprisingly disruptive (babies need to be changed, fed, napped, exercised), and besides, it’s just rude.
Don’t get all up in the baby’s face. You don’t shove your face into every strangers nose. He can see you. There’s really no need to be less than an inch away.
Don’t offer advice. Don’t take us aside and suggest we might be doing this wrong, or that wrong. You have no idea. Even if you think you have an idea, keep it to yourself. Instead, compliment us. Tell us how big and strong the baby is, how happy he is, what an amazing job we’re doing.
If you find yourself in the kitchen, tidy up and wash up. Observe the local practises (there may be equipment just for baby stuff). Try to find yourself in the kitchen regularly!
Take your cues. If we’re yawning vigorously, and asking about how you’ll get home, then take the hint and go.
Finally, here’s the best point of all. It’s the best. The winner.
“How can I help?”
Simple question. Ask it often.
We parents will thank you for following these rules. If not out loud (we’re busy), then in spirit.
We thank you.