5 tips to set healthy boundaries after having a baby

Our expert pediatricians offer tips on setting boundaries. 


Bringing a newborn home is a time of great joy. But it can also be stressful. Learning how to set boundaries with family is an important way to make this time less stressful.

Setting boundaries when you have a new baby

The first 3 months after a baby is born is known as the fourth trimester. The first few weeks can be a vulnerable time for new parents. Your body is recovering from birth, and the hormonal shift can be difficult.

During this time, it can be stressful to figure out how you and your partner can set boundaries with family and friends, but it’s necessary. With so much going on, it's OK to take some time to figure things out as a family.


5 tips for new parents

  1. Visitors should be willing to lend a hand. This can include bringing food, helping load and unload the dishwasher, helping with laundry, walking the dog, or taking care of the baby, so parents can take a shower or a nap.
  2. Your role as a parent is to protect your baby. Feel free to ask everyone to wash their hands or not to hold or kiss your baby. It's also your choice to ask friends and family to stay home if they're sick, especially around flu season.
  3. Taking care of yourself is taking care of your baby. Self-care may be as simple as giving yourself permission to take a hot shower, sit down to eat a warm meal, go outside for 10 minutes or say yes to doing something you enjoy.
  4. Follow your gut and know you are doing your best — and this is enough. Remember, babies are more resilient than they look, and no one knows your child better than you.
  5. Enjoy time with your baby.

Setting boundaries as parents

Setting boundaries takes time and patience.

Having a baby is an incredibly special time. People in your life will be eager to be a part of it. It's important to remember that you and your partner are the primary caregivers for your newborn. You both get to make the decisions.

Creating healthy boundaries ensures you have time to rest and heal from childbirth. It also can help you get some "alone" time to bond with your new baby.


Setting boundaries with grandparents

Babies and grandparents have a special relationship. Grandparents can be a much-needed source of comfort in times of need, for both you and your baby. But it's also important to set boundaries with grandparents. This makes sure everyone feels safe and respected.

Some examples for setting boundaries with your baby's grandparents include:

  • How much physical closeness you're OK with others having with your baby
  • Rules you have for your baby that you want followed at all times
  • What kinds of places you're comfortable bringing your baby to
  • Which foods you're OK with your baby having (including when and how much)

Boundaries with your other children

Parents can find it hard to balance their baby's needs with their older children's needs. Healthy boundaries with older children are important. They'll help create a safe space for your baby. They'll also promote the emotional well-being of your family.

Great examples for setting boundaries with your baby and other children include:

  • Set aside family time to talk clearly about rules and expectations
  • Set aside time to spend with older children when you can focus on them
  • Stick to consistent routines around meals and bedtimes — for everyone

Other examples of boundaries with siblings include:

  • Allow older siblings to help with the baby, but be clear about how to be gentle with and hold the baby.
  • Make a clear line between what you as parents are responsible for and what older siblings should focus on.
  • Try to create separate living and sleeping areas in your home, so your baby can get rest while older siblings have room to play.

Remember, your older children may need extra attention during this time, as they get used to having your new baby as part of the family. If you find your older children are acting out more, it may mean they need more positive attention from you.

Boundaries for friends and visitors

Your role as a parent is to protect your baby. You make the rules. It's OK to say no to visitors. 

The bottom line on boundaries

As parents of a newborn, you're "on duty" 24/7. Moms may be learning how to breastfeed. You're probably exhausted, anxious and joyful, all at the same time. So, be sure to set boundaries. It's an important part of raising children and taking care of yourself.

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