Visiting A Newborn: Hygiene Rules To Follow

Did you know you should not wear strong perfume or take flowers when you visit a newborn? There are rules for visiting a newborn baby in hospital to maintain hygiene. Read to know more.

By Dr Vikas Satwik

Visiting A Newborn: Hygiene Rules To Follow

All members of the family are overjoyed when Sakshi delivers her first baby. Guests keep coming to the hospital to visit the newborn. One relative brings a big bouquet of flowers and Sakshi feels uncomfortable as she does not like the strong scent. She is also worried that the flowers might elicit an allergic reaction in the baby.

When a little bundle of joy comes into our lives, it is human nature to shower the baby with gifts and good wishes. But, most of us are not aware that taking certain things such as flowers, while visiting a newborn and the mother, is not recommended.

Apart from the visiting rules the hospital may have in place, there are certain hygiene and etiquette guidelines we need to follow when paying a visit to a newborn. Read to know more.

Best time to visit a newborn

The best time to say hello to the bundle of joy is when the baby comes home. This gives the parents time to adjust, bond with the baby and settle into their new roles. While in hospital, it is a good time for the new parents to learn how to take care of the baby from the hospital staff.

If you wish to visit the newborn in hospital, inform the parents about the visit. Try to keep your visit short. Sitting for long hours and talking loudly is not permissible around the newborn. Also, adhere to the visiting hours.

Grandparents visiting newborn

Grandparents are often the first to visit the newborn baby in the hospital. In India, it is common for one set of grandparents staying along in the hospital to help the new mother recuperate. Thus, it is important that grandparents are aware of the proper etiquette to follow while visiting and handling the baby.

Can you take your children along?

Except for older siblings, it is best not to take children to visit a newborn. Even siblings should be allowed to visit the baby in hospital only once or twice. Children can carry infection-causing germs and they can pass it on to the newborn. Since the newborn's immunity is still developing, she can be at risk of infection. Children may also make a lot of noise, disturb the newborn and the mother, or fondle the newborn and wake her up. The new parents might like to have a quiet environment around the baby during the first days after birth.

Should you visit a newborn if you have a mild cold?

No. If you have a cold or symptoms of a cold, avoid visiting a newborn as the baby or the mother can get infected.

Rules for visiting a newborn in hospital

1. Hygiene rules to follow

  • Have a wash or bath before visiting a newborn.
  • Do not smoke before the visit.
  • Wash your hands before touching the baby, even if you have just washed your hands before arrival. Nowadays, most hospitals provide a hand rub or sanitiser by the mother’s bedside.
  • If you can, go bare below the elbow. Bangles, heavy rings or bracelets are known to carry germs.
  • Avoid wearing perfume.
  • Avoid taking flowers as the mother or baby may react to the scent/pollen.

2. Etiquette rules to follow

Apart from hygiene rules, there are some etiquette rules you need to follow while visiting a newborn.

  • Make a call to the parents before visits. Do not go unannounced.
  • If you are cancelling your visit, let the parents know about it.
  • Do not get disappointed or angry, if the new parents ask you to come some other time.
  • Always keep your visits short. Speak in a low voice so that the child does not get disturbed.
  • Maintain proper hygiene. If you sneeze or cough, use a tissue or your hands to cover your mouth.
  • Bring small thoughtful gifts.
  • Do not give unsolicited advice on baby care.
  • Do not take photos of the baby without the parents' permission.
  • Avoid long stays with the baby's family.
  • Another common practice is to gift money to the baby, which is best avoided. Even if you do, avoid leaving the cash next to the baby. Bank notes are heavily contaminated with germs and this can cause infection in the newborn. In this digital era, there are better ways of gifting than giving soiled, germ-filled bank notes!

3. Rules for gifting a newborn baby

  • Avoid gifts. If you must take gifts for the newborn baby, then small gifts are preferred, especially during the hospital stay.
  • Avoid large stuffy toys as they may carry germs.
  • More than the gifts, the new parents would appreciate some moral support.
  • It is a good idea to carry some home-cooked food for the parents, so that cooking will be the least of their worries. Remember, the most important gift to give the new parents is the gift of time with the new angel in their lives.

4. Rules for visitors holding the newborn

  • Always take permission from the mother before holding the baby.
  • Be extremely careful of the baby's neck and head as they are very delicate at this stage.
  • Do wash your hands before touching the baby.
  • Don’t wake the baby up.
  • If you notice feeding cues, give the baby back to the mother and take leave.
  • Do not kiss the baby on the face or lips.

About the expert:

Written by Dr Vikas Satwik on 12 August 2019.

The author, Dr Vikas Satwik, is a paediatrician and neonatologist.

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