Parenting Etiquette Visiting Relatives when you have a Baby

Any kind of travel can make a dent into your baby’s routine and visiting relatives is no exception. Everyone will want to hold and love on your new bundle of joy, especially those relatives who are meeting the new addition for the first time. It’s important to remember that you are responsible for your child’s safety and overall well-being, but you also want to be courteous to your hosts.

Regardless of anything else the baby’s needs and safety should come first and this often requires a bit of planning before the trip. Make sure you are bringing along enough of baby’s essentials – toiletries like diapers, wipes and bathing items, food items like bottles, formula if needed and comfort items like pacifiers, favorite blankets, etc. Find out what your sleeping arrangements will be ahead of time. Lots of relatives do not come complete with cribs or cradles so you may need to bring a portable crib like a pack n’ play.

Creature comforts aside, you will need to prepare yourself on how you want your baby handled while visiting. It’s not realistic to expect that nobody will want to hold your baby. While you may have some reservations about baby being passed from relative to relative you will have to allow for it to some degree depending on the age of the baby. Very young babies can still nap in someone’s arms and not be spoiled for it. Babies also do not posses the same types of muscles that adults do so cradling them throughout a nap is not going to make your baby sore. If you have an older infant and he or she is sleeping in the crib for naps you are going to want to hold onto that tradition. You have every right to announce that it’s nap time and that baby is going to his crib for a snooze.

Nothing is worse then unsolicited advice, and when you are staying with relatives you better bring your invisible earmuffs. Being able to observe you as a parent up close and personal will bring out every piece of knowledge and old wisdom, leaving you either angry or confused as to how you have made it this far with your baby with clearly very little skill in child rearing. Be polite. Smile and nod. Don’t take it all to heart.

If you are breastfeeding it’s polite to excuse yourself quietly to feed your baby in another room. You may not have a problem nursing your baby with people around but take other people’s feelings into consideration. You may also need to turn a deaf ear to well meaning family members who are constantly telling you to give your baby a bottle of formula. Remember that this is a decision that you have made and stand firm. This isn’t something to argue about either – just state that this is the decision you have made and excuse yourself to nurse the baby.

While young infants aren’t going to notice much difference in their sleeping arrangements, older ones will. Expect that your baby that sleeps through the night at home may not do the same at Grandma’s. If your baby wakes up crying at night don’t let them try and fuss it out in a strange place. Do what you can to calm your baby and not wake the rest of the house. It doesn’t take too terribly long to get your baby back into the swing of things once you return home.

It’s important to remember that when you are bringing your baby to meet relatives that this shouldn’t be a power struggle. Stand your ground on important matters like safety and nourishment. Let family members visit with the baby but remain firm on any routines you have in place. And try to enjoy your time with family!