12 Rules to Follow When You’re Visiting a New Mom

As much as you want to meet your friend’s new baby, could you also be making things harder? Here are 12 rules to follow when visiting a new mom.

Visiting a New MomI could barely remember to shower, much less vacuum the carpet, prepare a meal or even manage the overwhelming change of becoming a new mama. No doubt, every mom could use help during that postpartum stage after bringing home a baby.

But what if help from others isn’t so… helpful?

Sometimes, having others over to your home becomes more of a burden. You need to make plans or you feel obligated to entertain and hold a conversation.

What are some rules friends and family can follow to make sure mom is getting the help she needs?

12 rules to follow when you’re visiting a new mom

I was lucky: both my family and in-laws live near us, providing much-needed help (and chicken noodle soup!) during those early months after both of my deliveries. I know exactly what new moms wish for, and what they’d rather do without.

I’ve also been on the other side as a visitor to fellow new moms—friends and family who’ve given birth. Although the main “reason” when visiting a new mom is to welcome the new baby, we forget our task of offering a helping hand.

And sometimes we don’t know how to help or don’t want to overstep boundaries or make assumptions. Do we do their laundry? What kind of food should we bring? Does she want us to visit now, or a few weeks later?

If you’re visiting a new mom and want to be as helpful as possible, keep in mind these 12 rules:

1. Ask for a good time to visit

Every new mom has her timeline of when she feels ready to accept visitors. She may be ready to see you anywhere from right at the hospital, to several weeks later after she’s more settled.

Don’t feel disappointed or take it personally if your friend isn’t ready to see visitors yet. She has her reasons, from wanting to bond with her new family to spreading out her resources over several weeks.

While I appreciated my early visitors, I was also grateful for those who came later, long after the baby had been born. I still needed help even during those later weeks.

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2. Call ahead to see if she needs anything

Your friend will likely be housebound for a few weeks. Before visiting a new mom, give her a call and let her know you’re at a particular store and ask if she needs anything from there.

It doesn’t have to be big, either. My sister was at the grocery and asked if I needed anything, and I realized I was low on honey. Depending on where you are, you might be able to pick things up like diapers, grocery items, or even medicine.

These essential and sometimes last-minute items can be just the thing your friend needs, but can’t manage to get herself.

3. Follow the parents’ rules without a comment

New moms—especially first-time moms—have strange instructions visitors need to follow. From removing shoes to using hand sanitizer to not rocking the baby to sleep, every mom has her preferences.

The best thing to do? Follow her rules. This is, after all, her baby and new family, and she has the best intentions, even if they run counter to yours. And while you may expect her to loosen up as the years go by, she doesn’t need to hear that right now.

And follow her rules without raising eyebrows or making comments. She doesn’t need to know how different you’d done it, or the research that contradicts what she believes. Reassure her you’re here to help by following her preferences.

4. Don’t give unsolicited advice

I’ve learned that most people don’t want advice—they want someone to listen.

Let your friend vent about her problems without jumping in with your solutions. Help her reflect by “mirroring” what she’s saying. You might say, “It sounds like you’re struggling with sleep deprivation” instead of “You need to stop holding the baby so much.”

Only if she asks what you would do should you offer advice. And even then, show empathy for what she’s going through and that you understand why she’s feeling this way.

Newborn Sleep Deprivation

5. Offer or ask what chores need to be done

For many, diving right into other people’s chores can feel awkward. Doing chores involves one of the most private spaces in a person’s home (think loads of laundry or trash bins). We may not even know where things go, so something as simple as emptying the dishwasher can be a challenge.

But it’s worth offering to do chores and help unload her to-do list. You might even ask if you have permission to clean up around the kitchen, or empty trash bins and dishes.

If she minds, she’ll probably let you know, but most moms will likely not care if others do their chores and will appreciate the gesture much more. A few suggestions include:

  • Loading and unloading the dishwasher
  • Emptying trash cans
  • Wiping and spraying surfaces
  • Folding laundry (it can even be the baby’s laundry to make it less awkward)
  • Getting the mail
  • Feeding or walking the dog

6. Bring food

Besides cleaning her home, a new mom needs food. She needs to eat, after all. If you’re visiting a new mom, make sure you come bearing food or snacks.

Had you visited any other time, your friend would likely have offered you a meal. After all, we usually eat when we’re invited to someone’s home.

But in this case, don’t expect her to prepare something to eat, even a small snack. If you think you’ll need to eat, bring enough food for both of you, like a casserole you can eat together.

And while you’re there, prepare the meal yourself. For instance, if you bring soup, be the one to ladle them into the bowls and fetch the utensils, so that all she has to do is sit at the table to eat.

A few ideas to bring include:

  • Already-cooked, ready-to-go meals
  • Frozen homemade meals she can eat later
  • Simple ingredients she can prepare later (like a box of pasta and a jar of sauce)
  • Boxed freezer meals
  • A gift card to a restaurant

7. Don’t expect to be entertained

As you might have guessed by now, visiting a new mom isn’t the same as all the other times you’ve visited her in the past.

She likely won’t have anything for you to eat or offer you a fancy beverage. Her bathroom might be a wreck, and her living room strewn with baby stuff. She’s far from looking presentable, and she might feel all sorts of emotions you haven’t seen.

This is all normal, and a mark of your intimate relationship. Even though you’re in her home, think of yourself as a semi-hostess, making her as comfortable and supported as possible.

8. Ask if she’d like to sleep or step out of the house while you watch the baby

Some moms might feel like they have to be with you since you’re in their home. But ask your friend if she’d like to nap, take a shower, run an errand, or take a walk alone, reassuring her you’re on baby duty.

If she’s worried caring for the baby will be a hassle, suggest taking care of him while he’s asleep. She might not feel too bad leaving him in your care if he’s going to be asleep anyway.

Regardless of when you care for him, commit to doing it all the way, from changing dirty diapers to soothing his cries. Don’t “take care” of him only when he’s calm or asleep, only to pass him back to her if he’s crying. See if you can calm him down first and only flag her if he’s inconsolable.

9. Bring entertainment

I didn’t have television when my eldest was born, and I felt pretty isolated from “the real world.” So, when people brought movies, magazines, and DVDs, I was in heaven. Call it escapism, but I loved reading and watching things that had nothing to do with a baby.

If you’re short on ideas on what to bring your friend, you can’t go wrong with entertainment. Every mom needs her escape and a way to pass the time.

10. Bring hand-me-downs

New moms love hand-me-downs, from clothes to gear to children’s books. I relied so much on hand-me-downs as a way to trim my budget.

Before you bring anything though, ask your friend if she’d like to have them in the first place. Not all moms need hand-me-downs or already have plenty enough. You can save yourself the trouble of bringing these items (especially large ones).

11. Ask before posting a picture online

We live in a social media world, one where we don’t bat an eye at posting selfies and check-ins. But when it comes to your friend’s new baby, always ask before posting a picture of him online.

Because if she’s like me, she may feel wary about having her baby’s photo out on the world wide web. Even if she has shared photos of him on her Facebook page, she may not feel comfortable having others do the same.

Instead, ask. If not, don’t hold it against her, and keep the photo on your phone.

12. Play with her older children

If your friend happens to have other kids besides the baby, focus your attention on them first.

Even though you’re visiting a new mom because of the baby, don’t forget her older children. Talk to them, even (or especially) if it has nothing to do with the new baby. Play games or take them outdoors.

You can also offer to handle baby duty so your friend can spend time with the older siblings. Regardless of which path you take (you’ll likely do both anyway), she’ll likely appreciate your efforts to help with her older kids.


I found that the ideal situation for many new moms was finding a balance between having company and not having to entertain. Of giving instructions and not micromanaging. And of open communication on either side and asking when we’re not sure how to be most helpful.

And the most important thing to keep in mind? We’re not guests.

Any other time, on any other visit, sure, we can expect to interact with friends and family as a guest. But with a new bundle to care for, a dirty carpet, and the same outfit worn three days straight, a new mom can’t accommodate guests just yet.

But a helping hand, yes—especially if it comes bearing chicken noodle soup.

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  1. Hello dear Nina!
    I just want to say that I love your website. I am glad that I found your website. I live in Sweden and I am a mum to a 3 months old baby. It’s my first child. I feel that the sleep deprivation is the hardest part of having a baby. I feel stressed and have bad appetite but I don’t know if it’s because I am a new mom. I feel like I am not able to enjoy the infantperiod.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Hi Rachida! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad the website is helpful to you, especially at this challenging stage of parenthood. Sleep deprivation definitely takes a toll on many parents (including me). We aren’t able to function, think clearly, and are more likely to snap or make poor decisions. And it definitely adds to the stress!

      Hang in there Rachida. One thing that really helped me is to not fight the moment. I made the mistake with my eldest to try to rush through the madness, or to wish for easier times, or get down on myself when things weren’t easy.

      Instead, realize that this is the season of your life right now, and like all seasons, it’ll pass and make way for another one. But don’t fight it and instead acknowledge that it IS hard, and to give yourself permission to take it easy. Be kind to yourself, including all the ways you wish you could be but aren’t. Things will pass. Those newborn days are NOT easy, so if you’re not coasting along, know that it’s totally normal.


  2. My baby girl is nine months old and these “rules” still ring true for me, especially as an immunocompromised person during the pandemic. Follow mama’s rules, refrain from offering advice, and know that I cannot entertain/host like I once did. I would add that a non-local visitor should not expect to be hosted overnight and should not overstay their welcome. We have had several family members come to visit and stay at our house without being invited to do so. This transition has been difficult enough without extra people.

    1. Nina Garcia says:

      Overstaying visitors can definitely be a problem, even without a baby!