30 Don’ts When Visiting a New Mom

posted by Andrea | 05/30/2014

After the birth of both our kids, Dave and I were blessed with LOTS and LOTS of food gifts, gift cards, free babysitting, helpful friends, etc. etc. We were/are SO appreciative of every gift, card, email, and visit we received — honestly!

However, after bringing two kids home from the hospital myself (one of which is still very fresh in my mind) and talking with a bunch of friends who are also new moms, I complied this list of 30 things I would personally suggest NOT doing the next time you visit a new mom (“new” being those first 4-6 weeks). And to be perfectly honest, this list could probably apply to many people who are sick, bedridden, or off their feet for a variety of reasons. Please note that this list is partially my advice and partially tips and advice from MANY other news moms as well!

I realize that my opinions might be different than yours (especially since I’ve become more introverted over the years), and the intention of this post is definitely not to sound ungrateful for the gifts we received. We have never intentionally acted rude to a visitor, we have never not accepted a gift with thankfulness, and we have never intentionally made anyone feel unwelcome in our home. I just know that before I had kids, I personally did many of the “don’ts” I listed below. So I figure maybe this list will help others, like me, who just didn’t know what was helpful and what was not :)

Also, I will say that for me, this list would NOT apply to Dave and my immediate family members — they can do whatever they want and are generally VERY gracious guests in our home — however, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be the case in all families!

Finally, as I mentioned above, this is a “don’t do” list for NEW moms (you know, for those first 4-6 weeks when everything is CRAZY, our hormones are totally out of wack, and we just need a lot of grace). If you are offended by this list or feel it’s totally unreasonable, just save your visit for after that time period and we’ll most likely be back to our more “normal” selves and more interested in chatting!

30 don'ts

1. Do not show up unannounced unless it’s to silently drop off a meal and/or diapers on the front porch and then leave again. Then, make sure to send an email letting them know you dropped something off. (We’ve had a couple people randomly drop off food or diapers while we were gone or sleeping and I can’t tell you what a fabulous gift it was for us!)

2. Do not call unless it’s absolutely necessary as you will most certainly call at the exact moment they finally get their baby to sleep or when they are sleeping themselves. Email or text them first and wait for a response. If they don’t respond immediately, it’s probably because they are too busy or tired, and whatever you were asking/telling them isn’t THAT important. They will respond eventually.

3. Don’t show up before or after your scheduled time. Assuming you emailed to set up a time… do everything you possibly can to arrive very close to that scheduled time. If you are early, just drive around the block a few times. If you’re late, text her to let her know. I realize I like to plan ahead more than most people, but there are few things more frustrating for me than trying to manipulate a newborn’s schedule to accommodate a potential guest… and then have that guest come an hour later than planned.

4. Don’t come before 9am or after 9pm. That’s just too early and too late for a mother of small children dealing with sleep deprivation to function.

5. Do not ring the doorbell… EVER. Please… just knock lightly (especially if you know she’s already expecting you)… and then a little tiny bit louder if they don’t hear your first knock. Don’t ring the doorbell unless it’s a matter of life or death.

6. Don’t feel the need to come the day they get home from the hospital. Dave and I purposely didn’t accept any hospital visitors (besides immediate family) because we didn’t want all that busyness in the hospital. We just want to sit and get to know our baby without a stream of visitors. I realize not everyone shares this perspective — but I can more confidently assume that most new moms don’t want visitors the day they come home from the hospital (again, our immediate family would be exempt from this rule). Give us a few days, weeks, or even months. The baby isn’t going anywhere and we would most likely appreciate a visitor several weeks down the road when we feel more “with it” and ready to converse.

7. Do not show up without food. I know, this might sound selfish, but if you’re going to visit a new mom (or anyone who has been off their feet for a couple days) food is seriously just the best gift (here are some of my tips for giving food gifts). If cooking isn’t your favorite thing to do, then bring something store bought or gift cards or takeout. Even if they don’t eat it, it will be something for their family/spouse/kids to eat — which means one less thing they have to do.

8. Don’t eat her food. Even if she offers, just say ‘no’. She’s only being polite and probably doesn’t want you to scarf down the fresh batch of cookies she finally mustered up the energy to make when you’re only staying for 20 minutes. Obviously, if you were going over for a “lunch date” or something like that, then it’s a totally different story :)

9. Don’t bring a “cluttery” gift. The last thing a new mom wants is one more thing to pick up and clean around. So although you think you’re being thoughtful by bringing a new toy for each of her other kids and a cute outfit for the baby, it might be better if you bring something that can be quickly used up.

10. Don’t bring something you didn’t want yourself — in my opinion, it’s honestly WAY better to show up empty handed than to regift something you didn’t want yourself. Yes, there are potentially exclusions to this rule (like if you know your friend wanted an item that you didn’t want) but for the most part, if you didn’t want it, she won’t either.

11. Don’t bring seasonly inappropriate clothing even if they are cute and cheap — just don’t do it as that forces the new mom to either get out of the house to return it or get out of the house to donate it.

12. Don’t bring a plant or anything else that requires maintenance. I never got a plant as a gift, but many friends commented that this was a really bad gift for new moms because it was just one more thing to take care of. Plus, if she has a toddler, he/she will most certainly make a mess with the dirt — which means, she’ll need to clean up that mess too.

13. Do not come when the other child/children are napping — unless it’s to hold the baby so the mom can take a nap. Seriously, as a mom of a non-napping toddler, I can’t tell you how extremely frustrating it is to have those precious fleeting moments of Nora’s nap interrupted by a well-meaning visitor who thinks I just want to chat for 45 minutes. I don’t — at least not in those first few weeks. Those few minutes are the only minutes in the day when I can just sit and hold Simon or lay down with him on my chest, or get something done without Nora “helping”.

14. Don’t bring your kids unless it was planned ahead of time — it just adds to the chaos.

15. Don’t keep asking to hold the baby if he/she is sleeping. Maybe I’m weird, but I’m not going to wake my baby up from a perfectly good nap just so you can hold him. I know you love babies, but it’s not worth making the rest of my day miserable because I woke him up.

16. Don’t sit and relax with the baby while she deals with the older kid(s). If the baby is awake when you come, you may hold him for a few minutes — but then, if you’re going to stick around for a while, put him in the bouncer and entertain her older kids. Read them books, play with them, take them outside to give her a break — don’t sit and snuggle the baby while she tries to chase her 2 year old around the house.

17. Don’t come if you’re sick or if you’re around your own sick kids all day. I don’t think this one needs an explanation!

18. Don’t ask if the baby is sleeping through the night. No, he’s not — can’t you tell by the bags under her eyes?

19. Don’t ask if he/she is a “good baby”. I can’t tell you how many times I’m still asked this question, and I cringe every time. What is a “good baby”? Is it a baby who doesn’t cry — because that’s like saying “good children” are children who never talk. All babies are “good” — some are just “easier” than others.

20. Don’t expect her undivided attention. I know I don’t speak for everyone on this, but if you’re going to come and hold the baby or play with her big kids, please don’t be offended if she uses that time to be productive. Let her empty the dishwasher, sweep the floors, fold a load of laundry, and pick up the house while she chats with you. It’s not that she doesn’t want to sit and chat with you for hours at a time, it’s just that she rarely has a time during the day when she’s not holding at least one child, so she can’t waste even a minute of time when she has BOTH hands free!

21. Don’t stick around after she hints that the baby is hungry. I’m sure I’m not the only mom who doesn’t love feeding her baby in front of others… so when her baby is screaming and she’s bouncing him saying, “he must be hungry” that’s your cue to leave (or at least ask if she wants you to leave), not plop down on the couch for a peep show.

22. Don’t be offended if she doesn’t send a traditional thank-you note. I actually enjoy writing thank you notes, so that’s my preferred method of “thanks”. However, many of my friends said they felt pressured into writing long thank-you notes — and it was just one more thing todo. I definitely think it’s important to show gratitude; however, mailing an actual thank you note for the plate of cookies you brought might not happen. Maybe she’ll send you an email or a Facebook message raving about your food or thanking you for a visit. That’s totally fine in my book.

23. Do not talk about how much you love the newborn phase. To be perfectly honest, you probably just THINK you love the newborn phase because you’re forgetting about how awful the sleepless nights and endless crying were. After several nights of little to no sleep, she’s probably not loving the newborn phase and it doesn’t make her feel any better to have you gushing on and on about it.

24. Do not answer your phone or check your emails on her time. No explanation needed.

25. Don’t overstay your welcome. In general, “short and sweet” is good for new moms. We’re tired, we’re busy, we have screaming children that need us to feed them every 2 hours. Although we would love to sit down and chat, we just can’t. Please don’t make us feel like we’re shooing you out the door — just leave politely on your own terms… approximately 15 minutes after you arrive. And if you’d like to visit longer, maybe come back after those crazy few weeks are past.

26. Don’t not ask. Sorry for the double negative — I’m trying to stick with my “don’t” theme here. Basically what I’m trying to say is “you won’t know what she wants unless you ask.” Maybe she needs a gallon of milk or a prescription from the drug store. Maybe she would really love someone to make her bed and clean out the dishwasher. You won’t know until you ask — and often times, these little gestures can totally make a new mom’s day (seriously… not needing to get out for milk was a lifesaver for me on 2 separate occasions). Whenever I visit a new mom, I almost always email a couple days in advance to see if there is anything specifically she’d like me to bring or anything she’d like me to do when I get there (like cleaning or taking her older kids for a walk). I give them a day or so to think about it and consider that a part of my gift. So many people are shocked when I ask, but then admit that it was SO nice to have the offer on the table in advance for them to consider. A few people have done this for me too and it was amazing!

27. Don’t take no for an answer. New moms aren’t always thinking clearing… so when she says “no” or “I’m fine” or “it’s no big deal”, she might really mean “yes, please, that would be amazing!” and “I’m really not fine but I don’t want to drag you into this” and “it IS a big deal to me”. So just keep asking when she tells you no. Make it very apparent that this is your gift to her and she is not inconveniencing you. However, at the same time, if you can tell she really just isn’t up for company, don’t push back too hard. Offer your non-intrusive help (milk or diaper drop-off) and leave it at that.

28. Don’t stay and watch TV. Unless you’re her best friend coming over to watch your favorite weeknight TV program, don’t just sit around and watch TV (especially if any or all of her children are sleeping).

29. Don’t judge or state the obvious. She knows she is still a little (or a lot) chubby and bloated. She knows her house is messier than normal. She knows she doesn’t have make up on and that her hair is a mess. She knows she is still waddling. She probably doesn’t feel great about it, but she also doesn’t need you to make obvious comments like, “wow, you look exhausted”. And I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate passive-aggressive comments about her house-keeping or parenting skills.

30. Don’t be offended if she asks for a rain-check on your visit. Under normal circumstances she would most likely welcome a visit from you any time of the day… but right now, she’s tired, she doesn’t feel presentable, and even though she knows you’re trying to be helpful, she just might not feel like entertaining one more person. Not even for 15 minutes. Maybe you caught her on a bad day… try not to be offended. She’s just not thinking clearly!


I know everyone’s situation is different, but for me, the MOST helpful thing was when people brought food and then entertained Nora for an hour without bugging me (or better yet, took Nora with them to do something fun). I was so tired and sore those first few weeks that all I wanted to do was lay down, but that was almost impossible with Nora around. I didn’t want to chit-chat, I didn’t want to entertain anyone, I didn’t want to play with Nora.

I just wanted to sleep with Simon zonked out on my chest for as long as someone could keep Nora occupied… and then eat the food they brought me :)

Ok, so I’d love to know, what would YOU add to my list?

tulip image source

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Filed under: FamilyLifeParentingPregnancy



  1. JM


    I am subscribed to this blog and read the posts every weekday. I have to say that while I have thoroughly enjoyed almost every single post thus far this post makes me question if I want to remain subscribed. I don’t have children myself but I do have a chronic illness (hence the “no children”) and I’ve spent many unpleasant weeks between illness, procedures, and time in the hospital. My friends and family have committed many of the “sins” outlined above and I’ve never felt even a twinge of hostility or upset towards them. I am grateful I have people in my life who take time out of their busy lives to think of me and visit. It’s nice to have someone bring a dish or snack by but this is by no means an expectation nor should it be! I’ve also never expected any help with household tasks. That, to me, falls way outside of what should be expected of someone who is a friend, not to be confused with hired help. I hope this is a one time thing and mean spirited posts like this won’t become a norm.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for the feedback! I’m honestly surprised that a loyal subscriber like yourself would let ONE post you don’t enjoy wash out the other 1500 posts you apparently did enjoy — but to each his/her own :)
    I don’t remember using the word “sin” anywhere in my post — and I’m fairly confident that the first few weeks after having a baby are in no way remotely similar to having a chronic illness (based on my personal experiences with both situation). I’m very sorry for your illness (and I really do know how crapy chronic pain/illness can be), but long-term, on-going pain/illness/off-your-feet situations are very very different from the shocking blow of a new baby that happens in one day and can be recovered from in 6-8 weeks.
    Also, I have personally offered to help new moms with household chores on many occasions and they have told me later that it was the #1 best gift they received after their new baby was born. So no, it’s not expected, but it most definitely is appreciated as I have witnessed myself time and time again.


  2. allison achinapura


    Andrea -

    This is your blog – say what you want. I enjoyed this post as I do most of your posts. One time I didn’t agree with you – when you painted the family high chair – I would’ve left it in its aged state. But that’s me and you are you. You go girl!


    Andrea Reply:

    oh the chair! nora loves that chair — and surprisingly, my grandma also loved the red color (I was a little worried because she is like you and doesn’t like painted furniture!)
    Thanks Allison :)


  3. Deirdre Westerhoff



    Bravo on saying what needs to be said! As a mother of four, with the youngest two being seventeen and a half months apart, I greatly appreciate your honesty-from a new parents point of view- with your list of “don’ts”. I feel it is a fair and realistic list that I personally can relate to. As another mom mentioned in her comments to you, this list would have come in handy when I was having my babies!

    Even though it’s been a few years, I can still remember coming home from the hospital with my fourth baby, and having to cook dinner (my husband had to leave for work as soon as we got home), while holding said baby. Meanwhile, my 17 1/2 month old high needs baby sat on the floor, banging his head against the floor, as he could not understand why mommy had a new baby in her arms, and was not holding him. Fortunately, my two older children, ages five and eight, were being entertained by my elderly parents, who lived six hundred miles away, came to stay the first week and help out where they could. (And although they tried, my toddler baby only related to my husband or me. Plus he did not remember them as we unfortunately did not see each other often) Even though they came to help,for which I was very grateful, I still feel as if I had to cater to them instead of vice-versa. My in-laws both had full time jobs running their business, and did not have any free time to assist us then, as it was their busy season. Needless to say, it was alot to handle those first weeks, especially that first crucial week.

    In retrospect, I would have insisted my parents visit another time, not that fist crazy week. I also would have frozen more meals since no one offered to do this for us. Of course, hindsight is twenty-twenty. Funny thing, at least in my case, apparently it seems after you have one baby, no one wants to have a shower for the others that follow, especially since my children were born during different seasons of the year. I would have appreciated the gifts of food or clothes, etc had that happened. Apologies for going off-topic, though, I guess it’s just that this topic struck a nerve! It also has made me aware of what to do and not to do when my children grace us with grand-baby’s someday!

    As others mentioned, I also look forward each and every day to all of your posts! It’s one of the first things I open in my email! I find your honesty and openness refreshing; a true rarity these days for some reason. I feel as if I am reading a friend’s blog.

    Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let the naysayers get to you! :)

    I am grateful for my loving husband, who would do all the grocery shopping, care for our older children when he was home, get up in the night with me, or when our other children needed something, made sure I had plenty of snacks and juice to keep me hydrated and my blood sugar up while nursing, did the laundry…I am truly blessed.


    Andrea Reply:

    wow Deirdre — I can’t even imagine!
    Dave also had to go back to teaching right away — but I was fortunate that my dad could come over a few mornings each week to play with Nora while I slept with Simon. it was amazing and definitely made life more bearable those first few weeks.
    Sounds like you have a great hubby — and I definitely know how much of a difference that makes too!


  4. Susan


    I love your list and every one of them happened to me 40 years ago with my babies. I revisited your list again with a few variations when I was hospitalized and going through Chemo. Unbelievable. Although I have to say that the cards and notes that others sent were real blessings and very much appreciated. Thank you for educating our society or attempting to.


  5. Leah


    I’m pretty sure I’ve warned all my mom-to-be friends about the certain social peril that awaits them after the baby exits the uterus. This list nails it! I am a relaxed person and never get worked up about anything, but those crazy post-delivery hormones straight up changed me into an emotional mess for a good week or two. I have a few more to add: if new mom is standing there as you talk to her, please make her sit down. Her crotch hurts like the dickens and everything feels like it will fall out if you don’t shut up for a second and let her chill on a soft surface. Also, if she says now is not a good time and her newborn is wailing as she attempts to nurse it, please do not charge inside anyway and try to teach new mom how to breastfeed. Your unsolicited advice is not welcome. She might cry and throw something sharp at you, actually, if you don’t leave right now, so go. Also, don’t try to have a party for them at their house when they bring baby home from the hospital. They all want to crash and now you are hindering this tired little family from sleeping and getting settled in. These are some of my most stressful memories that never should have been made. Everyone commenting about how mean these things on your list are must have either been high on pain killers or have a really terrible memory! -Leah


    Andrea Reply:

    Oh boy, sounds like you’re speaking from some very personal experiences that when majorly wrong! I know that bringing home a new baby is definitely easier for some people than others (we’re all different, obviously!) but it sounds like you and I have had similar “this is so stressful for me” experiences :)


    Leahs Reply:

    Everything but the throwing things at people part… Doesn’t mean I didn’t WANT to! :-) I think this next time around I’m just not telling anyone I had the baby for a month or two… Haha


  6. Nora


    Loved your list. Although, I would have to disagree with the #7. One of my favorite new mom gifts to get is a “paper products basket” I’ve also given quiet toys for older children, bottled water, chocolate and a nice hand lotion for mom. I give food gifts as well; however sometimes it’s nice to get other useful items.


    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Nora (love the name!)
    It’s funny you should mention the paper products — my mom did the same thing for me and it WAS awesome!


  7. Ashley


    While I’m sure most folks would never do this, we did have a family who brought us a meal only they had planned to eat with us (without our knowledge!). So imagine our surprise when they had their kids start brining in the paper products and began to get the food ready….. We were so shocked we didn’t know how to respond, so we just went with what was going on. While we appreciated the meal, we didn’t appreciate our small house being filled with so many people, the kids swinging on our porch swing and banging it into the house, the chaos of having that many people around and the mess that was left behind. All this just a few days out from a 48 hour labor, a c-section and 3 days in the hospital, in addition to a nursing newborn!


    Andrea Reply:

    oh boy — that is pretty bad! We’ve had people stay for dinner but it was planned out ahead of time (and they did the clean-up!)


  8. Elise


    So spot on! 7 would be so amazing, everyone should abide by #8, and 9 and 11 are so true!

    I would also add, in Regards to bringing your kids over, if you do bring them, please, please, please pick up the toys before you leave!


  9. BJ


    Ok, I usually don’t like to “spew” out unwanted words, but I do get provoked and tired at people who like to voice their negative opinions at someone they have no clue what they might be going through or dealing with. I appreciate your blog so much Andrea and pray that the negative responses from unthoughtful people won’t deter you from continuing your blog; seriously, your blog is an inspiration and fresh air for me, even tho’ I don’t know you personally, you feel like a family member in my heart and that’s why it bothers me when people have to act so rude and harshly at someone else that is stating her own opinion. I hope these people will be sure to express their negative opinions at our government system, congressman, etc. so this country would be what God wants it to be and not so corrupt!!! Andrea, you stated several times that some of these ideas aren’t for everyone and that you and Dave are grateful and thankful for those things, but I think some people read one line and then have to “tear one down”. Keep up the good work you are doing, the good you are doing for others outweighs the bad!!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks BJ — don’t worry, the negative comments really don’t get to me that much. I do wish people would read the entire post (and at least take a deep breath) before they respond so negatively, but I’m thick-skinned and not too emotional, so I can usually just brush them aside! Thanks for your concern though :)


  10. April


    Don’t worry about the negative comments. I loved your list. My 18 year-old-daughter has heard so many stories about her “high needs” days and newborn days, and we have some great laughs about it now. She says that she likes hearing about it and finds it funny so I don’t think it has affected her negatively in any way.


  11. Debby


    Good Job Andrea!!! I am pretty darn sure that you have not scarred or damaged Nora and Simon’s mental health with this post. That’s what I love about you! You are real. I wish 18 years ago I would have read something like your blog and known it was ok to feel that way. I joke with both of my children how tough it was and how I had to stop nursing at 5 weeks with my second baby because my first child chose that time to act out. So I would be running around with a baby attached to my breast while my 22 month old was bringing down the house. You keep it real and for all of you that post partum was lollipops and rainbows, well God bless you. You are the exception and not the norm. Hugs


  12. Krystal


    For starters love love love your blog. I have disagreed in the past with posts but never commented on that but this one I feel compelled to share my side (and I believe I can’t be the only one with this side). I am of the age where all my friends have had or are having babies. I have not. When this began I remember reading post like this that made me feel like as tactful, kind, and considerate as I could try to be I would inconvience my friends in some way so as the daughter of a florist I did what came natural, send flowers or a plant with a thoughtful message to the family. I don’t care if mom or dad ever watered them or gave a second glance, it doesn’t bother me if the flowers suffered a horrible dehydration death. :-) It was more about letting them know that I was happy for them and here if they needed me. Flowers don’t mean something else to take care of always (trust me I have killed my fair share). Sometimes they just mean “I am right here IF you need me.” And I would be hurt if someone viewed them as a big inconvience when that was never the intention.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Krystal — so glad you’ve enjoyed my blog! And yes, I feel that maybe I should have elaborated a bit more on the “don’t bring a plant”.

    First of all, I think fresh flowers are TOTALLY different than a plant — I got flowers and LOVED getting them :) The whole “don’t bring a plant” tip came from one of my friends. She now has 4 kids and with each new baby, the same relative gave her a plant… and apparently expected her to keep the plants FOREVER!

    That relative called every day to make sure she was watering the plant and then got super offended when she finally tossed the plant. This has gone on with every new baby and she told me it was the absolute worst baby gift she received! Obviously, your “no strings attached” plant gifts are much different and I’m positive your friends really do/did appreciate them. As long as they know you won’t be heart broken if they accidentally (or on purpose) let the plant die, I don’t see any issue giving plant gifts.

    The only thing I would still be somewhat hesitant on is giving a potted plant to a new mom with other small children. You’d be amazed how much of a mess they can make with all that dirt — and yes, I speak from experience!) Go with the fresh flowers for those moms :)


  13. SoCalMom


    This list is VERY needed! But – it’s needed for a MUCH wider audience! I wish you had a way of publishing it, and forcing EVERYBODY to read it!!! This list doesn’t only apply to new moms, it also applies to EVERYBODY who is ill, hospitalized, or recovering from any of the above. This needs to be mandatory reading for EVERY pastor, chaplain, friend, church hospital visitor, family member, EVERYBODY!!!!!

    While I consider most of this list to be common sense, I guess it is not for most people today. I am continually appalled at the behavior of well-meaning people who turn their visit into a self-serving time of trying to make themselves look good, or meet their needs instead of serving the person they came to visit. Most people are COMPLETELY unaware of the needs of the person they are visiting, and don’t even stop to ask!

    This list is PERFECT and long over-due. I wish there was a way to ensure it was read by EVERYBODY !!! Thanks Andrea, for attempting to add some common-sense to the world. You’re teaching people manners, and sometimes that just doesn’t feel too good, but it’s necessary! Mothers used to teach this to their children, but that just doesn’t happen any more…


  14. Melissa


    Could I add one more?

    31. Please don’t expect or continue to ask the new mom to visit you at your house. Especially if it is longer than a few minute drive in the car with an infant that doesn’t enjoy her car seat.

    Loved this post!


    Andrea Reply:

    ah yes — definitely one to add to the list (this had never happened to me, but Simon HATES his carseat so I can totally understand how annoying this would be!)


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