Baby’s First Guests Keep Staying And Staying And Staying

by admin on February 14, 2012

My wife and I had a lovely daughter born about three weeks ago. It has not shocked us that many of our friends wish to visit; many of these friends live in the area, some as close as next door, and the most practical place to visit is in our home. While many of them have shown restraint, we have noticed that it is not uncommon for some visitors to stay ninety minutes or more. Some of these guests specifically wish to see the child awake. Others simply like to continue the visit longer than reasonable. I notice that young people–mid 20’s–without children and older friends who are of grandparent age, but have no grandchildren, are frequently the worst offenders. When you are trying to feed a baby every three hours, this is a significant chunk of time, and it frequently results in the disruption of the feeding schedule and mother or baby becoming irritated.

I have a commitment to offer guests hospitality, but I would also like to express our wishes that guests stay only a reasonable amount of time in a gracious way: do you have any suggestions?  0211-12


The first thing to do is create or buy a sign for your front door that says,  “Shhh….Mom and baby are sleeping!  Please do come again”, and hang it on the front door when needed.    Something like this:


When friends knock on the door, it’s quite acceptable to not open the door fully to them, inviting them in, but rather say, “Hmmm, Bob, this really isn’t a good time to visit the baby and Mom.  Is there another time you could come?”

One way to encourage visitors to leave is for Mom to get up and leave the room to nurse the baby in private.  Left to sit there for quite some time should dissuade lingering guests to go home.  Mom is under no obligation to let people into her “baby sanctuary” to talk with her while she’s nursing or changing diapers or rocking the baby to sleep.   When guests begin to get an clue just how involved baby care is, I think they’ll get the idea and adjust their visiting hours.



{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

MellowedOne February 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

First, to the OP, congratulations!!! Your post took me back several years to the birth of my daughter, a very !time.

admin, love the sign and the advice!

The only thing I can think to add is that (although admin addressed it) if the guests are welcome up to a point but you didn’t want to leave them when Mom goes off to nurse, perhaps when she does you could say something like, “I’m sorry to cut our visit short but she’s going to be a while and I have some things to take care of. But thanks for stopping by!”


AMC February 14, 2012 at 8:36 am

I had a baby 2 weeks ago. Just mention that you have to breastfeed and the room clears real quick.


Lily February 14, 2012 at 8:50 am

This happened to me as well, but a gentle nudge of “We haven’t been able to get much sleep because of the baby’s schedule. I think the whole family needs a nap. It was so nice of you to visit. I’ll shoot you an email/text/etc.” I actually started sending out a mass email to people who wanted to know what was going on with the baby, with pictures attached, just to be able to limit the visits and phone calls.

Right after birth I feel is one of those times it’s okay to be less than hospitable. Would one be expected to get up and serve drinks when said person just had hysterectomy? Why would it be any different with a c-section. As nice as it is to have all sorts of people who care about your new bundle of joy, now is the time to rest and bond. Grow a polite spine and kick them out.


Angela February 14, 2012 at 9:01 am

Don’t let visitors interrupt your schedule. If the baby needs to be fed, go ahead and feed her. Her needs come first. As for suggestions, consider “Oh, I’m sorry, but she just went down for a nap. How about we take a peek at her and you can visit around x o’clock another day and see her awake? ”
The new parents’ best friend in these situations is “the doctor” as in “The doctor really wants us to encourage her to sleep as long as she can” “My wife’s doctor is insistent that my wife sleeps when the baby sleeps”, etc. That way you can help people understand what you need without it sounding like a personal affront.


ferretrick February 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

If these people are dropping by unannounced, the first thing I’d do is institute a blanket “no call first, no admittance” policy. You don’t have to make a grand announcement. The next time someone drops by without a phone call first, say, “I’m so sorry; we aren’t ready to receive guests right now. We’d love to see you, but next time please call first.” Any-oh I don’t cares, blah, blah, blah are met with a polite but firm, “I’m sorry; it’s not a good time. Next time please call before you come.” As admin said, don’t open the door all the way, or make an indication that you are going to let them in.

Then you can start phone screening and/or declining the visit by phone, or telling them on the phone that they are welcome but will have to leave by X time for the baby’s nap, feeding, etc. Make sure they agree to this on the phone, and politely but forcefully get up at the stated time and say, “Well, it was lovely to see you; it’s time for baby’s _____. Thanks for coming.”

Setting reasonable boundaries on your home and your family’s time is not rude; don’t let society convince you that just because you’ve given birth you are a 24 hour amusement park.


catwoman2965 February 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

I don’t get people who do this. One of my very best friends had a baby almost 2 years ago, and I really wanted to go see them in the hospital. But I made sure she was a. up for visitors, and b. they were ok with me coming. They were, and I did, but I only stayed maybe 15-20 minutes. Baby was sleeping and she was recovering from a c-section. And when they came home, I always made sure it was a good time for them to come by, and even if it had been, and between me leaving and the baby having a meltdown or something else happening, I would have been fine with them telling me sorry, not a good time. It’s about the baby, mom and family, NOT the visitors. I would never overstay my welcome nor show up unannounced. I don’t even do that with my friends who don’t have kids!


VltGrantham February 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

One thing that worked well for us was to simply be direct and schedule visits in advance. It helped that we had already established a “please call before you visit” policy prior to pregnancy.

As we got closer, we let friends and family know that we wanted visits at home, but again asked that they please call first because we weren’t sure what the baby’s schedule would be. Also, we did not tell anyone I was in labor other than my Mom because I didn’t want visits in the hospital. As it turns out, this was a good idea since my labor turned difficult and our daughter’s first few days were hectic and sketchy. I know everyone was chomping at the bit to see her but it really helped as I was trying to learn to feed her that I didn’t have random people popping in.

With some people (especially one pushy neighbor) DH just assumed the role of bad cop. He’d tell people directly “now isn’t a good time” and temporarily disconnected the door bell because while DD would sleep through it, it would wake me up. Grumpy Momma isn’t a good thing for anyone.


Jojo February 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

I’m expecting my first in June and one of the baby books my fiance has ( I think it’s The Blokes Guide To Pregnancy) suggests that the mother stay in her nightwear at all times just to make visitors feel awkward! It also tells new fathers that it is their role as guardians and protectors to make sure guests only stay for a short while.
Personally, I think I may take to the nightwear idea with gusto. It also means I can say, “finally the baby is resting, I’ll just take a shower now/have a nap” and thank the visitor for dropping by as I usher them out the door. Plan two is to make the visitor useful – if they’re around they can make me a cup of tea while I’m feeding the baby or put on a load of washing ;-)If they don’t want to pitch in, then I’m sure they’ll find a way to excuse themselves quickly.
In preparation for lots of enthusiastic visitors, I’ve already made it clear that only my fiance will be present during the labour and birth and that we would like a few days rest before receiving guests at our home. Of course this will be ignored, but they can’t be offended if we ask them to leave because we’re just not able to accommodate them and have already made this clear.
As for wishing ‘to see the child awake’, as if! I can only hope that the least I do is inform them curtly that newborns sleep round the clock and not to darken my doorstep til the kid’s a toddler.


LonelyHound February 14, 2012 at 9:51 am

When our son was born we put a sign up that says “New Baby. Please do not knock or ring doorbell.” This not only kept away drop in guests but also unwanted solicitors. In order to get in people had to call ahead of time and find out if it was alright to visit and what time they could. It has worked so well that four months later it is still up!! 🙂


Ashley February 14, 2012 at 9:59 am

Aww I like that sign idea 🙂 It kind of reminds me of the Baby on Board stickers that people put on their cars only the door sign is more practical xD

Just be politely frank with them OP. Giving them a set time limit on how much you have for visiting time might help a little too.


Chocobo February 14, 2012 at 10:05 am

Signs to keep people away at the door? Well, then, I should have one that says “Sorry, the lady of the house has a hangover, she cannot entertain today,” or “I just want to get some chores done, please,” or “For the love of Pete, it’s eight in the morning, come back in the afternoon.”

Having a baby or being a mother is not excuse enough to warn away well-wishers with signage, or to neglect guests when you’ve already invited them into your home. It is terribly rude to get rid of any guest by awkwardly leaving them alone in the parlor, no matter how much you might like them to leave. Wouldn’t it be kinder to simply say “Oh dear, I think it is time to feed baby. Thank you so much for stopping by, can I get you anything to drink before you go?” I beg the letter writer not to passively-aggressively neglect guests and use rudeness to combat rudeness, unless they want to ensure that Baby will never have any visitors again.

The only solution proposed by the admin that is acceptable is to decline to invite them in, with effusive thanks for stopping by and a promise to invite them over some other time.


Elizabeth February 14, 2012 at 10:29 am

Polite spine!!

“Thank you all for coming, but it’s time to feed the baby and then for her nap, so we’ll have to pick this up another time. Safe trip home!”


elizabeth February 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

I would add that if/when mom leaves the room to nurse/put the baby to sleep, etc, she tells them what she’s doing and says something like, “it was nice to see you guys, have a great week.” That kind of god bye message might also get the message across that the visit it over.


Gracie C. February 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

People do not know your boundaries unless you share them, and every parent/family is different. You do not say whether these guests are just showing up, or if they are planned ahead of time and then just stay longer than you are comfortable with, but either way the solution is the same (and I like Admin’s sign). If someone has a discussion with you ahead of time about coming for a visit, you reply with as much info as possible. Example – “It would be great for you to come on Saturday. Baby is fed every few hours, so if you come from 2 – 3 that should be a great time for a quick one hour visit.” If someone shows up at the door and it’s not a good time you let them know. If it’s a good time, then you say something very similar to what I already wrote, “Great timing, we’re in between feedings, it’s a great time for a quick one hour visit – come on in.”


Library Diva February 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

When people call ahead about visiting, that’s a good time to let them know that their visit should have an end time, too. Like this:

Bob: “I’ve been dying to see your baby! Is it OK if I drop by tomorrow around 2?”
You: “Sure, but we put baby down for a nap at 3.”


Cat February 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

Perhaps you need to be a bit more direct than a sign. Your relatives and good friends are going to think, “We don’t disturb them. We’ll just have a nice visit.”
I believe I’d say in the first few minutes, “I hope it won’t disrupt your schedule but we have only fifteen/twenty minutes free right now so this will have to be a brief visit.” In fifteen minutes stand up and say, “Well, thank you so much for coming. We’ll look forward to being able to have longer visits when the baby is a bit older.”


Ashley February 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

Lol, it’s times like this that I am glad my mother will have NO issues kicking people out if I suddenly seem flustered with too many visitors when my fiance and I start having kids.

I kind of like admin’s idea of hanging a sign though.


Shoegal February 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Actually, some people can’t take a hint. If it is blaringly obvious that it is time to go and they still won’t go. You can actually say something in the neighborhood that it is time to go – they still won’t go. My husband does this – we once to the funeral of his elderly aunt. I’m thinking we paid our respects after a reasonable amount of time – he wasn’t ready – just chatting away. Another relative was saying, “Gee you must have a long ride home, blah, blah, blah – you should get going.” Nope he didn’t – kept on chatting – I said something about going – I even left the room – he continued to chat.

Another time we were at a party – the host was asleep on the couch and all the other guests but one had left and the hostess was cleaning up the food. Do you think it was time to leave? I was counting down the minutes – and wanted to go so badly I practically escorted him to the door – he said – “We can’t go now!” I was adamant – no no – honey – IT IS TIME TO GO!!! He later admitted that we overstayed our welcome.


Angel February 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I don’t think you need to post a sign. Just institute a blanket policy, if you’re going to visit you need to call first. Period. If someone comes by without calling and you can’t receive visitors, just don’t let them in. Simple. If they are offended that is their own problem, not yours.

I totally agree with the admin regarding the guests who won’t leave issue. Another good thing to do is to start cleaning up around them, go about your household chores, etc., if it is not time to feed the baby at that very moment. I found that most people get the hint while you are washing dishes, doing laundry , and if all else fails, break out the vaccuum. That will chase most visitors away but good.


hannahere February 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Don’t answer the door. 🙂


Calliope February 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I had a baby two weeks ago, and I’m having a similar problem. Not only do my non-parent friends not understand the exhaustion, out-of-whack hormones, and need for private time that come with a newborn, but some out-of-state friends and family have attempted to invite themselves to be overnight guests in my home. I realize that people want to meet the baby and that some people genuinely want to lend a helping hand, but this is totally overwhelming. It’s difficult for me to tell people they can’t visit, but I’ve been forced to put my foot down. I don’t want to offend well-meaning loved ones, but my new family needs some space.


gramma dishes February 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm

My first baby was incredibly colicky. If I had hung a sign on my door, it would have read:

PLEASE come visit!
But only if you have strong arms and a lot of patience and don’t mind hearing a baby cry inconsolably. You can carry the baby around and jiggle and wiggle her all you want.
Plan to stay at least two hours.
The Mommy will be eating or sleeping while you are here.


Cassandra February 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Oh my I went through the same thing with my second daughter for over a
Month there was always someone in my tiny apartment!
I was suffering ppd and trying to breast feed for the
1st time. My daughter was a preemie so it was hard to breast feed anyway.
Regretfully I did not stand up for myself or baby and gave up on bfing.
I say be rude if you have to! Your family needs time together!


Cat Whisperer February 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

This is another one of those situations where cultivating your ability to use the word “no” can save you a world of trouble.

FWIW, you are under no obligation to offer hospitality to drop-in guests who have not called ahead or made some other arrangement ahead of time to visit. If someone shows up unannounced, all you have to do is tell them, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting guests, and this isn’t a good time. I’m going to have to give you a ‘rain check’ on the visit. But thank you for coming by! And thank you for your understanding!” as you close the door on them.

You have to understand that this is not rude. Your baby has to take priority over guests, and it’s important to your baby that you be as rested and unstressed as possible.

Yes, there are some people who will not “get” this. And they will be miffed, and they will think you are rude, and some of them may decide that they want to alter the terms of their relationship with you.

And that’s okay.

When my daughter was born, I found that there were friendships I could not keep going, mostly with people who did not have children and never wanted to have children. And some of these people were quite upset that I couldn’t/wouldn’t make time and space for them to continue with our relationship– on THEIR terms.

Babies do change everything, and that’s just part of being a parent. Your priorities are completely re-arranged. And your relationships with other people will change. Not all of them for the better. Some friendships don’t survive the shift of priorities and there isn’t anything you can do about that except keep yourself open to the possibility that when your child has grown older, you might be able to re-establish some sort of relationship with these people. But don’t count on it.

I also found that something that helped cut down on the drop-ins a lot was to schedule some informal get-togethers with people at places like parks or fast-food restaurants. Nothing formal; just “if you want to see the baby, we’ll be at [location] between ‘x’ hour and ‘y’ hour and we’d love to see you.”

You have to take care of yourself and your baby, and that means you won’t have the time you used to have to nurture friendships. Some friends and family will understand this and accept it, others won’t. Doesn’t matter: you have to be firm and not allow people to impose on you to the detriment of your health and welfare. Practice saying “no, I’m sorry, now isn’t convenient, I’ll have to catch up with you later,” and meaning it.


Chocobo February 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I’m shocked at how many commenters are advocating “rudeness as required” to meet one’s own priorities. Isn’t that exactly the attitude that we are desperately trying not to teach to children?

Sorry, folks. There are no passes on rudeness, not ever. Our good forebears made it through their own busy parenthoods with grace; there is no reason why we can’t, either.


Tracy February 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm


Bless your heart. If I saw that sign, I would have come to visit (and jiggle) even if I didn’t know you.


Yes, but this is something you need to somehow convey before the baby is born. And how will that happen? Are you going to call everyone who might possibly come visit and say “Just wanted to let you know, if you’re going to visit, you need to call first?” Talk about awkward and time-consuming.


Vanzilla February 14, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I agree with Chocobo. Something about putting a sign on the door, no matter how “polite”, just doesn’t sit well with me. There are ways to make people who genuinely want to wish you well and share your joy *not* feel like they’re intruding. I’ll second all the comments that advise simply saying things like “Thanks so much for dropping by, but I’m not available for a visit right now. When are you free this week? Let’s schedule something!” I think it’s important and a sign of good grace to reciprocate your guests’ interest in visiting.

Also, in response to JoJo’s comment:

I seriously disagree with this. Maybe JoJo was kidding. I hope she was. Just because someone has a baby does not mean that suddenly the world stops and everyone must cater to the desires of the new mother. If I go over to visit a new mom and her kid, I’d probably offer to grab her a drink while she rests her feet; but if she EXPECTED me to, JUST because she’s now a new mom, I’d be pretty offended. Entitlement is still entitlement – baby or not.


Heather February 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Put the visitors to work! Have them fold laundry, wash dishes, run a vacuum, dust, mop…

If they’re comfortable staying during this time then they should have no problem pitching in. At the very worst they won’t want to help and will leave!


Kim February 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Vanzilla: “I agree with Chocobo. Something about putting a sign on the door, no matter how `polite’, just doesn’t sit well with me. There are ways to make people who genuinely want to wish you well and share your joy *not* feel like they’re intruding.”

The point of the sign is not so much to say “Stop intruding” as it is to say “Please don’t make noise”. The modern “Shhh” sign, like its earlier counterpart the muffled door-knocker, is a way of ensuring that the fragile and intermittent peace of a household with a new baby is not going to be suddenly shattered by a disruptive “DING-dong!” or “KNOCK knock KNOCK!”

Such a sign or symbol is helpful not only for would-be drop-in visitors in your personal social circle, but also for strangers arriving unannounced, such as the postman with a parcel to sign for or Girl Scouts selling cookies. If you’re in a temporary situation where you can’t cope with unexpected callers, it’s only reasonable to give such callers warning of that fact BEFORE they blithely lean on your doorbell and then feel dreadful when they realize they’ve unwittingly ruined your much-needed rest.

Yes, you could alternatively just disconnect your doorbell for the duration and not answer the door, but callers might worry that something had happened to you or start pounding on the door because they think the doorbell is broken. The “Shh” sign, like the muffled door-knocker before it, is a simple and sensible way to let callers know that you’re taking a temporary break from the usual routine of being at home to unsolicited arrivals.


ED February 14, 2012 at 8:52 pm

If people drop by unexpectedly, just don’t answer the door. You are under no obligation to entertain uninvited guest. If you feel you must open it, then just open the door and say something like, “I’m sorry, now is not a good time. Why don’t you give me a call and we can setup a better time to visit.”

As far as people overstaying their welcome, I think it’s rather PA to just leave the room. I don’t understand why not just tell them, “Well, it’s been a lovely visit. Thank you so much for stopping by. Let’s be in contact about the next time we can get together…” as you stand up and escort them to the door.

My mother tells a story about how she was relaxing on the couch when I was a baby when someone rang the doorbell. She wasn’t expecting visitors, so she didn’t answer the door. A short time later, she received a phone call. Apparently my dad’s friend had driven home to call her and tell her that he knew she was home because he saw her car and heard the TV and he wanted to know why she didn’t answer the door. She told him something like, “I wasn’t expecting company, so I didn’t answer the door. Next time, call ahead if you want to visit.”


Edhla February 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Firstly: in my social circle, it’s rude to call in unexpectedly unless you know the person VERY well. The only people I’ll do a drop-in on are my parents. I even call and check if my sisters are available for a visit.

Secondly: what Chocobo said.

Thirdly: not all new parents are like this. When my sister had her firstborn, two days after Christmas, she lived in a city 3 hours away from me. My mother got all protective of my niece and more or less told me to not visit for New Year, which had been my plan. My sister heard, got on the phone, and demanded I come and visit. She did not put on any pretensions of being delicate (perfectly ordinary, straightforward birth), she didn’t act like her daughter was made of glass, and she knew that I wouldn’t resort to- I don’t know- poking my niece and yelling in her ear to get her to wake up or something. This whole thing reminds me of when the siblings of newborns weren’t allowed to touch them at the hospital, lest they “give the baby germs.” Times have changed.

My only other comment is that I have known parents who do things like put rude “go away” signs on the door, or send pre-emptive texts to the effect, or expect their friends to work around their baby’s tight schedule, etc, and then are very hurt or at least honestly wonder some time later why their friends haven’t been to visit. If I mentioned dropping in on a friend who had just had a child, and they put a ridiculous amount of stipulations on when and how I could do so, I would be very put off. And the new mother permanently in her nightgown? Is this 1890?


Noodle February 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

My son is now two months old. When I was pregnant, I was rather depressed about the fact that I had no family to speak of (parents deceased) and my friends all live out of town. MIL even bowed out, feeling that it would be more appropriate for my own mother to come and visit/help out even though, like I mentioned before, my mother is deceased.

Well, I ended up having to have an emergency c-section and I was so grateful that it was just me, the baby, and his father in the house. I also had a lot of trouble breastfeeding and the presence of even my MIL at such a time would have set me right on edge. With just the three of us, I didn’t feel self-conscious about looking like death warmed over or worry about being “decent” in case someone were to drop by.

None of my friends have babies, but when the situation arises with them I will make it a point to ask before coming and wait until they are good and ready for visitors. Had the situation arisen with my friends or even the in-laws, I would have set firm boundaries early on. I hope OP can do that as soon as possible.


ilex February 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm

I like the sign idea. I’ve never popped in on a family with a new baby as a guest, but years ago I did pizza delivery. A couple of times people with new babies acted like I was out of line to knock on the door loudly (or normally, for a pizza driver — soft knocking means standing out in the cold at most houses). I would apologize, but what I was thinking was “How the hell was I supposed to know?” Other people requiring special consideration (blind, deaf, disabled, on oxygen) usually gave special instructions, sometimes in the form of a sign by the door. What rubbed me the wrong way about some new parents is that they expected everyone to be mindreaders. It’s the same with pop-in guests, especially the young and childless who really don’t know that a 90 minute visit might be overdoing it. Personally, I never felt intruded on when guests came over soon after my son was born, so they may have been genuinely welcomed for 90 minutes or more visiting a new baby before.


Valley February 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Banish me to Ehell but this is what we did at the behest of our wonderful midwife. We put up a sign that said:

We are so glad that you came to share the joy of our beautiful baby girl. We are still getting to know each other as a family. It’s an awesome time but please understand it’s also pretty stressful, for that reason we ask that you only stay for 15 minutes.

It set boundaries for our visitors and helped us to not get overwhelmed.


Kate February 15, 2012 at 2:08 am

Congratulations, OP!

I was always taught that the most polite thing to do when a friend becomes a parent is to wait for them to invite you to visit, rather than turning up on their doorstep. This way, visits happen when the parents and baby are ready, and the parents don’t have to deal with awkward situations where they really want to ask people to leave but don’t want to damage the friendship.


sezza February 15, 2012 at 2:17 am

I have to admit, when my good friend had her second child, I visited them that night in the hospital for around an hour. In my defence though, my friend is very much a people person and wanted the company while hubby and older child were away. when the two came back, I then spent the next half hour entertaining the two year old so mum and dad could spend some time together with their newborn.

She’s about to have her third child soon, and I will probably do the same – but I would never expect to be entertained – I think if you are close enough to visit someone so soon after a baby is born, you should be close enough to help them out while you are there eg; do the dishes, tidy up toys, entertain the older children, make a meal etc.


Sugaryfun February 15, 2012 at 2:39 am

Congratulations OP!
I can relate to this one, as a Mum myself. I second the idea of investing in/making a sign to put up when the baby’s asleep. Other than that I think sometimes you have to actually come right out and say “I’m sorry but I’m tired/need to feed the baby etc.” I found it very confronting when I was a new parent to have people follow me into the bedroom and keep talking to me while I was trying to feed the baby to sleep. Sometimes they would talk in a stage whisper, and I had to explain that if I could hear them then the baby could certainly hear them too!


Cooler Becky February 15, 2012 at 5:02 am

In Chinese culture, we have a confinement period in which the new mother is kept confined with her baby and a mother/mother-in-law. The mother eats healthy calcium and iron-rich foods during this period to help her recover from the birth process and produce more milk. As such, the mother does not receive any visitor during this period, as it is a period of recovery.

I think that sometimes, this might be a good idea to export to the West.


Cooler Becky February 15, 2012 at 5:07 am

Addendum: The period is about a month long. Just in case you guys thought it lasted forever. Though I’ve heard of mums who recover faster and receive guests after 2-3 weeks.


vanessaga February 15, 2012 at 6:11 am

The problem is, childless people do not understand what an undertaking a baby is. I don’t blame them; neither did I until I had one. But sometimes you do have to be direct and I cannot fathom how this is rude but if I have to be rude for my own health/sanity, so be it. I’m expecting again in late May/early June and if people show up uninvited at 9pm, take the baby from me while I’m breastfeeding,tell me that my baby’s too loud when she cries and then proceed to scream over her (and yes, friends of mine did all these things) I’m just going to put a stop to the visit.


Margo February 15, 2012 at 6:58 am

I agree that you don’t have to let people in if they pop by without prior arrangment. A quick ‘Sorry, this isn’t a good time – call me and we can arrange to meet up’ is fine, and you can do this at the doorstep.

Polite indication that you’re ready for someone to go ‘It’s time for baby’s feed/nap/massage/change – lovely to see you, do call’ is also fine.

If you have someone who doesn’t take that hint I don’t thinkit is rude to then say something such as “It’s been lovely seeing you, but I am going to have to ask you to go now, as I have to feed the baby / help my wife with bathtime / whatever”

I don’t think that putting a sign up is appropriate – it’s different if you have a sign like that on the room where you / baby are sleeping, or while you are changing or feedings her, but on the front door? To me that would come across as really passive agressive and pre-emptively rude. (Also, like the ones people put in cars – it’s only useful or relevent if you *only* put it up when it’s actually true. If it’s left up constanctly then people are going to start to assume that it’s just some slightly twee decor!)

If people turn up uninvited, you are not obligated to let them in, nor to entertain them for any longer than you’re comfortable with. It’s fine to say ‘oh, thanks for dropping by, things are a bit hectic, but do come in for a couple of minutes just to say hi to mum and baby’


LilyG February 15, 2012 at 7:15 am

Appoint a bouncer. Seriously. My brother was the designated thrower-outer. I’d give him the high sign (usually a despairing wild-eyed look) and he would rise and srtart shooing people to the door, saying, “Wow, it’s been so thoughtful of you/nice to see you/thanks for the casserole, bye bye!” Worked every time.


JennJenn68 February 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

Honestly, in this day of 24/7 connectedness thanks to email, text messages and social networking, there is absolutely no excuse for any visitor “just dropping by”. Yes, new parents are not monitoring their Facebook pages with bated breath anymore; okay, so they aren’t hovering over their Blackberries waiting for any kind of message, and the prospective visitor may have to wait for acknowledgement. They won’t have to wait appallingly long. New parents aren’t going to become indifferent to messages just because the baby is there because it is such an ingrained habit now with most people. And really, if a new parent doesn’t have time to respond to your text message, he/she definitely doesn’t have time for a visit!

As for clueless guests overstaying their welcome, I don’t see what is impolite about imposing a time limit. “Thanks for visiting, but we’re just exhausted and baby needs . Call and we’ll set up another visit soon.” It shows a polite spine, particularly in the case of people who seem unable or unwilling to take a subtle hint.

The sign on the door? I think it causes more problems than it solves. Babies very quickly learn to sleep through almost anything–the doorbell, the vacuum cleaner, older siblings running around, normal conversation. Imposing a cathedral-like hush on one’s home because “the baby is sleeping” is inviting sleep problems when said baby becomes a child who is unable to sleep under any conditions except absolute quiet. I’ve seen it happen. If the doorbell rings and you don’t want visitors, don’t answer it. I rarely answer my front door bell–mind you, this is mostly because friends and family know to come to the back door, so I only get solicitors and religious fanatics ringing my front door bell…


DGS February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am

I have to respectfully disagree with the Admin, as I do not think that a sign like that is the best idea, as it might be perceived as being passive-aggressive. And congratulations, OP! As a Mom of a five and a half month old, I struggled, like so many previous posters said, with those friends who did not have children and could not understand the challenges and demands of being a brand-new parent with an itty-bitty one and thusly, were not terribly understanding of having to come over on our terms and not theirs. One friend showed up unannounced at the hospital the day after I gave birth and literally, walked in on me bare-chested, attempting to breastfeed with a screaming newborn and lactation consultant at our bedside. She then, proceeded to engage my husband and my Mom in awkward chatter, all the while the latching-on drama was going on a few feet away. Another friend was supposed to come over to meet baby and was miffed when I cancelled on her twice, because the baby (my son has milk and soy protein allergies – I ended up not having any milk due to PCOS and having to use hypoallergenic formula, and he struggled with GERD and colic, but I digress) was very cranky and not feeling well and his parents had been up all night and in no frame of mind for entertaining. She then tried to have a very heated conversation with me over the fact that she felt snubbed by the baby and me.

What I have found helpful was to firmly yet gently reiterate, “I am sorry, this is really not a great time for visitors” on the phone and in person (for those people that are so ill-mannered as to randomly show up at your door) and then to suggest what might be a good time. Also, it was helpful to explain why it was not a good time to entertain, “I am feeding baby/the baby is quite fussy, and I am quite tired, so neither of us is terribly good company at the moment, etc.” Most people understand, and those who don’t – well, you might have to reevaluate your relationship with them. Newborns are not a sideshow. Yes, it is lovely to pay a call on the new mother and meet the baby, but in my opinion, one has to use the same etiquette that is applicable to visiting people who are ill or recuperating in a hospital. In other words, the visitor has to be extra attentive and sensitive to the needs of the person being visited.


Sara February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am

I agree. People probably aren’t trying to be inconsiderate–they just don’t understand what’s involved in having a brand-new baby. I have a four and a half month old, and before having a baby I had absolutely NO IDEA how all-consuming caring for a newborn is. You just don’t get it until you’ve done it. I had no idea about spending 45 minutes out of every 90 minutes nursing, changing 8-11 diapers a day, spending hours trying to get the baby to sleep, dealing with the joys of colic, etc.

Our childless friends, who are all wonderful and caring people, would frequently come by unannounced (which is usually no problem for us) and stay for significant periods of time (again, previously no problem) when our daughter was a newborn. All it would take was a “Oh, I’m so happy to see you! But I was just about to put the baby down/nurse/give her a bath–can we make a plan for later in the week?” and they would generally be very understanding, no hard feelings.

For a visit that’s gone on for a long time, the trick of going into another room to nurse is a good one. Either my husband could stay and continue to entertain our friends while the baby and I did our thing, or the friend would have the good sense to realize that it was time for the visit to end.

I don’t see this so much as being rude, more as just not realizing that things change a bit when you’re dealing with new parents who are trying to care for a newborn. People are still trying to be caring and helpful–they just don’t always know how. 🙂


VltGrantham February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am

I’ve never thought of signage as rude unless it’s specifically designed to be so. We have a very small, tasteful sign, near our front door that reads “No Soliciting/No Trespassing”. I do not see it as inherently rude to “warn away well-wishers”. Instead, I think it’s far more rude to drop in on a brand-new family, especially if you don’t know all the details about the delivery or birth, without calling first.

If more people would call as they should before just dropping by, there wouldn’t a need for a sign period. One would think everyone would understand the need/desire for quiet and privacy after say, a wedding, birth, death, other major life event and ask before just dropping in on someone unexpectedly.


Compelled to Post February 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

Sometimes the offender may not realize that they are not expected. My cousin’s daughter, with her newborn, and I were both in the same town. My cousin told me to drop by her daughter’s to see the new baby. I asked her to text her daughter that I was going to drop by for about 10 minutes as I passed (from my cousin’s house to my parent’s house – my cousin’s daughter was staying half-way between my parents and my cousin). My cousin did not text her daughter and she was not aware I was dropping by. I did not stay more than 10 minutes, and we joked about her Mom not letting her know I was dropping by.


Another Laura February 15, 2012 at 11:20 am

When our daughter was born we had a sign on the door for the first week that informed droppers by that we were not currently receiving visitors while we learned to know our new baby and her schedule. People who had pre-arranged to drop off a meal or gift were met at the door by my husband, and if the baby was awake and not nursing, they were invited in for a quick peek.
Once we knew when she would be most likely to be awake and between feedings we established “visiting hours” for a few weeks set durung those times.
Our second child is due in a month and a half and we plan to do this again. I do not see it as rude. You are letting them know up front what your expectations are, and don’t need to drop hints or be passive agressive.


Enna February 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm

(I don’t know if my previous post got through or not so if it has please ignore this one)

It is about finding a middle ground between having firends and family around while juggerling a baby: it means that hosts can enjoy hosting and vistors can enjoy visiting and everyone can enjoy baby. If guests don’t take the hint take it up to the next stage. E.g. try talking to firends and family first so they know to call and to arrange a time to visit in advancve. If someone does drop by unannoucned then depending on who it is and what the circumstances e.g. if it is not convienant then polietly say so. If a guest stays too long then saying “I have to feed baby now” – if they take the hint and leave that’s fine. If they don’t then it’s okay to leave the room to feed the baby – after all as a parent baby does come first. If they really really really don’t get the hint but a sign up. Signs that say “baby napping please don’t ring door bell” isn’t rude.

My firends have had children, I don’t have them myself but when the babies were first born I would wait to be invited to see them: as I didn’t want to intrude and I will see them soon enough.


delislice February 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Sounds to me as though the OP’s main objection was that these visitors were staying too long. And the OP is correct. A checking-in/drop-in visit on someone recovering from a medical situation should seldom exceed 15 or 20 minutes. What are people thinking, making a 90-minute-plus visit?!

In my line of work, I’ve learned how to end a visit, even though I’m usually the visitor, pretty decisively. It works in reverse, even with the most oblivious.

When you’re the host/ess, at the appropriate time, stand up. Stand over the seated visitor, if need be. Say something like, “It’s been lovely to see you. We’ve enjoyed your visit. We’ll see you again soon.”

If the visitor does not immediately get up and head for the door, extend a hand. Say, “Here, let me help you up. That chair/sofa is hard to get off of.” Even if it clearly isn’t.

That works about 90 percent of the time. For the exceptionally clueless, back up and spell it out in words of one syllable — “I have to tend to something else. Goodbye, now!”

There’s no need to say what you need to tend to, in fact it’s sometimes TMI.

If I’m visiting a person who really really doesn’t get enough company and is holding you to ransom with conversation that will never end — who doesn’t even breathe, let alone pause — I stand up, smile, say, “It’s been wonderful — thank you for letting me visit,” and head for the door. Sometimes they follow me to the door and keep talking as I open it, at which point I smile again, say, “See you later” — over their talking, if need be, and leave.

But then, I’ve never been a fan of what I call “pre-emptive rejection,” and I agree that inducing a “cathedral-like hush” might lead to sleeping problems later. I made a point of keeping the nursery door open during my baby son’s naps, running the vacuum or dishwasher as needed, et cetera. He’s now seventeen, so of course he sleeps like the dead, but even as a baby and toddler, little noises weren’t going to jerk him into wakefulness.


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