When you go visiting a new born
That a baby is a fragile vulnerable thing, will be agreed by one and all. And yet we seldom show the respect a baby needs. We often take the little one, whether ours or others, for granted. But because a baby is so sensitive utmost care must be taken to make them comfortable in this world. Remember they have just arrived in this cold outside world from the warm coziness of the womb. They are experiencing cold and hunger, harsh lights and frightening noises for the first time!
Baby etiquettes is what I term them i.e how to behave near a baby. This is a forgotten lesson else we just don’t care.
1) Don’t rush to go see a new born baby in the hospital. The mother or relations, least of all the baby, will not get offended if you don’t go visiting the very day the baby is born. Usually, the process of delivering is a very exhausting process for the mother whether natural or caesarian. The baby keeps her awake in the nights and so a new mother seldom gets any sleep. It gets worse when she is kept awake in the day by visitors. Follow the visiting hours even if the hospital doesn’t enforce it strictly.
2) When you do visit the baby and you wish to hold her or him in your arms, wash your hand. A baby is sensitive and you might be carrying germs from the outside world that the baby is yet to build immunity to. This is a healthy practice mandatory in the west and completely absent in India. Set a good example for other visitors. Insist on washing your hands in front of them.
3) Another very important thing. When you go visiting a new born baby, remember to speak in hushed tones, esp. if the baby is sleeping. I have seen many people come and lecture me on top of their voices insensitive to the sleeping or nursing baby. Many babies react violently showing their displeasure at the high decibel intrusion by bawling aloud. Don’t wait for the baby to do that before hushing up. Some babies are more sensitive to noise than others.
4) Have you ever attended the milk giving ceremony that usually takes place when the baby turns a month old? The baby is initiated to outside food. In the olden days, newborns where given diluted outside milk very early to supplement breast milk. Today’s research shows exclusive breast milk till six months is best for the baby’s (and the mother’s) health. Every ceremony that I was invited to featured throngs of people arriving and insisting to feed the baby with milk unmindful of the discomfort it causes the baby. The ceremonial Indian wick lamp is usually lit and the fan switched off. Added to that is the body heat of the visitors. The place becomes stuffy and uncomfortable for adults. Imagine what a baby must feel like. For our baby we insisted only one of the grandparents give the milk. My baby didn’t cry. Also, the outside milk is not digested by the baby and most babies fall sick after the ceremony. Tradition is good but if it’s not in the best of interests it can be diluted or given away. If your are at one of these ceremonies, resist the urge to feed the baby. The baby and the mother will be grateful.
5) If the baby or the mother is sleeping or feeding, withdraw and defer your visit for another day. It’s not your prerogative to see the baby. My baby was very hard to put to sleep and what was worse, would wake up at the slightest stimulation. Once a couple came to see her when she was not yet four months old and I had just put her to sleep with difficulty. Normally, the practice was to take the baby out. I refused to and insisted they come and see the baby in the crib with the lights remaining off.
6) This is something most people forget. If there’s an elder sibling under the age of four, make sure you get a gift for her or him as well in case you buy something for the baby. The baby won’t mind if you don’t get anything for him but her elder sibling is old enough to feel left out.