Visiting a newborn baby can be exciting, but it is important to do so safely and respectfully. Following certain rules can reduce the risk of infections and help the parents or caregivers as they adjust to life with a baby.

Newborns have less developed immune systems than older children. For this reason, some health experts advise limiting visits from extended friends and family to begin with, focusing instead on close family and essential visitors.

Having many visitors at once may also feel overwhelming for the family. To ensure a positive experience for everyone, it can help to ask before visiting and to follow any boundaries the family sets.

This article discusses the rules for visiting newborns, how to set boundaries, and some dos and do nots for visitors.

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Newborns are susceptible to infections, which is why many hospitals have visiting rules that limit the spread of illnesses, such as colds and flu.

When visiting a baby in the hospital, people can follow the rules of the healthcare facility for safety. These rules may include:

  • only visiting during certain hours
  • limiting the number of visitors
  • washing the hands thoroughly with soap before touching the baby
  • not touching any medical equipment
  • not sitting on the bed
  • avoiding loud noise so as not to disturb other families or babies who might be sleeping

People also need to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone wishing to meet a newborn baby get flu and whooping cough vaccines at least 2 weeks beforehand so that their body has time to start producing antibodies against these illnesses.

People also need to respect the wishes of the parents. Some may want some time alone with their new baby before they have visitors. Others may want to delay visitors because they need time to recover from a difficult birth or complications.

Once a baby is home, friends and family members may be eager to meet the newest addition. However, they may choose to limit the initial visitors to immediate family and essential visitors, such as health professionals. This can reduce exposure to germs.

Limiting visitors to begin with may also help the parents or caregivers settle into a routine and understand their baby’s sleep schedule, which may help with planning visits later on.

There is no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how long a person should delay visits for extended family and friends. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the first month of life is the most vulnerable period for child survival.

Some people choose to delay visits from extended friends and family until the baby has had their first vaccinations at 2 months. If visitors need to get additional vaccines, they may need to wait for 2 weeks to allow them to start working.

Other rules parents or caregivers may want to establish for visitors could include:

  • having up-to-date vaccinations for conditions before visiting
  • postponing visits if a friend or relative feels unwell, tests positive for COVID-19, or has recently been around sick people
  • washing the hands before holding the baby
  • only having visitors on certain days or certain times
  • potentially wearing a face mask

During the first 6 months of life, newborns cannot make many of their antibodies, which protect against infections. When they are born, they have antibodies from their birth parent, but these start to decrease after birth.

Eventually, babies begin making their antibodies, and their immune systems get stronger. However, they can be more vulnerable to infections that would not seriously affect most adults. This is why some sources recommend delaying having lots of visitors right away.

Delaying or staggering visitors can also have benefits in other ways. It may help by:

  • allowing time for bonding between the baby and immediate family members
  • allowing people who are breastfeeding or nursing to get into a routine
  • giving people who had difficult births or C-sections time to recover
  • avoiding overstimulating the newborn

Parents and caregivers set the boundaries when it comes to who visits their child, when they visit, and for how long.

Some may decide they do not feel ready for visitors yet. Others may be eager to have visitors and practical help. There is no right or wrong way to feel about this, but it is important that others respect their wishes.

The key to setting boundaries is clear communication. Caregivers can let people know:

  • who can visit
  • when they can visit
  • what safety measures they would like people to follow

What may be difficult is outlining the consequences if a friend or relative crosses these boundaries. If this happens, it may help to:

  • Repeat the rule: Explain again what the boundary is in clear, simple terms. For example, a person could say, “We would like you to visit, but we want to set specific dates and times in advance.”
  • Explain the reasoning: Briefly reiterate the reasons for this boundary and its benefits for the caregivers, the child, or both. For example, a person could say, “Having a set time for visits helps us plan our day.”
  • Outline the consequences: Explain what will happen if a person does not respect the boundary. For example, “If you visit without planning it first, we may not be ready, and the baby may be asleep.”

Learn more about setting healthy boundaries.

When visiting a newborn, it is important to be respectful and prioritize the family’s health and well-being. This section covers some dos and do nots when visiting a newborn.


When visiting a newborn, do:

  • ask the parent or caregiver when it is OK to visit
  • get any necessary vaccinations beforehand
  • arrive at the arranged time, if there is one
  • ask for consent to touch or hold the baby
  • wash the hands thoroughly before holding the baby
  • ask the parents before taking any photos
  • pay attention to cues to leave, or ask when the family would like the visit to end

Do nots

When visiting a newborn, do not:

  • show up unannounced unless the family has indicated this is OK
  • visit when unwell or after being in contact with others who are unwell
  • wear strong perfumes or scented products
  • touch the baby without asking for consent
  • wake up the baby if they are asleep

While it may be tempting to shower a baby with affection, kissing newborns can spread viruses and bacteria that adults may not be aware they carry.

For example, the majority of adults have herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores. Even if a person has never had a cold sore, the virus could still be present in their body.

In older children, HSV-1 does not usually cause serious illness, but rarely, newborns can contract the virus. When this happens, it can be life threatening.

The nonprofit Kit Tarka Foundation advises that only the parents or caregivers kiss a newborn. If the caregivers have signs of HSV, such as cold sores, they also need to refrain from kissing them until the sore has healed.

Instead, people can show affection through gentle touches and cuddles.

The rules for visiting a newborn depend on the location of the visit and the wishes of the parents or caregivers. Hospitals will have their own visiting rules. Some guidelines also suggest delaying home visits from extended friends and family for the first few months.

Instead, families may choose to focus visits on their immediate family and health professionals. This can give the baby’s immune system more time to develop and allow them time to bond and settle into a routine.

When visiting a newborn, it is important to respect the boundaries of the family and to practice good hygiene to avoid transmitting germs. It is also important to be up to date on immunizations, as this protects the baby from infections.

By following guidelines for visiting newborns, people can create a safe and supportive environment for the newest member of their family, allowing everyone to enjoy this special time together.