If you love keeping in touch with friends and family on Facebook, it's pretty much a no-brainer that, once you become a parent, you'll be wanting to share baby pics and updates on Facebook, too. Lots of them!
In fact, if you're anything like the rest of us, there'll probably be about 57 minutes between your baby arriving in this world and you sharing their first baby pic on Facebook. That's the average birth-to-social-media-post time lag, according to a poll by print site Posteria.
And yet, once there's a baby in your Facebook feed, you're not just posting stuff about you; there's another (currently very small) person involved.
And you're the guardian of their 'digital footprint' - all the stuff about them that stays out there on the internet for anyone (potentially) to see – until he or she is old enough to take on that responsibility themselves.
So, with that in mind, it's worth taking a few moments just to think about how you use Facebook now and whether there's anything you need to tweak or change – to make sure your baby's pics and news are only seen by those you love and trust.
To help you do just that, here are 6 simple steps you can take to make sure that, whatever you decide to post about your baby, you've really got their back, digitally speaking...
1. Check your privacy settings
It's worth double-checking only your Facebook friends can see your updates – rather than the entire world at large.
To do this, make use of Facebook's own Privacy Check up (click right through to the last page this link takes you to) – this will also allow you to review which apps you're using and the privacy of key bits of info about you on your profile.
Or you can click the padlock at the top of any Facebook page (assuming you're logged in) and check your privacy settings from there.
Even if you're already happy with your privacy settings, we still recommend you check out what your profile looks like to other people by using the View As tool.
2. Do some weeding of your Friends list
If you haven't checked out your Friends list in a while, now's the time to purge it of the various randoms you met in bars years ago, old school friends you never liked and anyone else you wouldn't show pictures of your baby to in real life.
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To do this, either unfriend them (remove yourself from their Friends list) or block them (this will unfriend them and make sure they can no longer see things you post on your profile). If you're unsure which to do, check out Facebook's info about Unfriending and Blocking.
3. Be selective about who sees your baby posts
Yes, it's dead obvious but it's so easy to forget that anything you share with Friends on Facebook can then be shared by them with others.
Cut down on the risk of some minor acquaintance from a former workplace sharing that picture of you breastfeeding with everyone in the postroom by creating a new list of the people you actively want to share family photos with – and using that list when you post baby updates.
Do this by selecting the Audience Selector tool – the dropdown arrow – in the top right of the box where you upload your post. (Facebook also has an FAQ guide to Audience Selection if you'd like some extra info.)
4. Watch your tags
It's all very well being careful to restrict the people who see your posts but you need to know that, if you tag someone in a photo, that person and all their Friends will see your picture, as well as the audience you've chosen for it.
If you don't want the Friends of the person you've tagged to see your photo, you need to select Edit Privacy and then unselect Friends of Tagged from the list that drops down.
You may also want to switch on the Tag Review, the setting in the Timeline and Tagging section of your Settings that allows you to approve or dismiss tags people add to your posts before they appear in your timeline.
5. Be careful about sharing other parents' baby posts
Never post or share or tag pics of anyone else's child on your own Facebook page unless you're absolutely sure it's OK with the child's parents. And if you do accidentally share such a pic without permission, do delete it quickly, especially if you're asked to.
There are all sorts of reasons other parents may not want to share their child's pictures as freely as you share your child's pics – and it's only right to respect that. It's their call, after all.
6. Try to 'future-proof' your picture selection
Remember that what goes up on Facebook (generally) stays up on Facebook for ever. And while you may think that pic of your baby with poo down her sleepsuit is hilarious now, she may not see the funny side when she's older.
Ditto pics of her as a toddler having a tantrum or not making it to the potty in time.
As a general rule of thumb, if it's not a pic you (or your child, in a few years' time) would happily have hanging on your sitting room wall for all to see, don't post it on Facebook.
- For more advice on keeping safe on Facebook – and helping your children to stay safe when they're old enough to post on Facebook too – you can visit Facebook's Parents Portal, where there are also lots of links to trusted child internet safety resources.
- If you see anything on Facebook you're really concerned about, do use their Report tool to let them know about it – and why you're concerned. Facebook's (human) moderators will review it and you can now access a Support Dashboard that lets you see the progress of your report, and notifies you when a decision has been made about it.
Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.
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