Don’t Touch My Baby: It’s Flu Season

sick baby
Image via Jeanna Strassburg

This post originally ran January 21, 2014. Flu season is officially upon us. The CDC has already reported that 10 children have died of influenza so far, and more than 2,600 have ended up in the hospital. The CDC recommends that children over the age of 6 months, and especially children with conditions such as asthma or diabetes, be vaccinated. For children under 6 months who cannot receive the vaccination, we parents need to be extra vigilant. 

{ MORE: Could The Flu Shot Reduce The Risk of Stillbirth? }

I think newborn babies must have a magnetic pull. It doesn't matter where you are, strangers are drawn to them. They pinch their little cheeks, stroke their hair, and the one that really grosses me out—they sometimes put their fingers in the baby's mouth! What? NO! If my child is fussing, really, it is NOT OK for you to become their human pacifier! I don't know you! Your hands were just on a shopping cart handle! Do you realize how disgusting those are!? Ewwww! I get shivers down my spine just thinking about it.

Breast milk is custom made to protect your baby from infection and fight germs!

But what do you do? I consider myself a pretty outspoken person, but I have always been taught to respect my elders, and there's something about swatting away the hand of a sweet 70-year-old woman that feels wrong to me. I don't want to be rude, but rude will be the least of my worries when my baby winds up in the ER with H1N1! And did I mention that premature babies have extremely sensitive immune systems? So, yeah, that just adds to my protective attitude. Mama Bears.com has come up with a simple solution for germaphobic mama bears like me: stroller tags that state simply, “Your germs are too big for me. Please don't touch.” One of their customers explained perfectly why I love this idea! She said, “When my baby girl was born, I hated having to explain to people that I was uncomfortable with them touching my baby. This sign is simple, great, and says it all, and it is bright and big enough so that I don’t have to say anything!” 

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But, a sign isn't for everyone. Maybe you feel it's overkill, or maybe the ones you're most worried about can't read. I take my 3-year-old son to preschool twice a week, and can I just tell you the number of coughs and sneezes I hear in those hallways rivals the waiting room at the doctor's office? You know what else? It's packed. Foot traffic of little people and their parents doesn't leave me and my baby content in our happy little bubble. Also, 3-year-olds love to over-love babies, especially when their hands are covered with marker smudges and with what I'm going assume is paste. It's a little easier for me to speak up and ask older children not to touch my baby, but they don't always listen. One thing that I've found works is to tell the older child that the baby really likes to have her feet played with. (Her feet at least have a sock barrier.)

In addition to telling people to keep their hands off the merchandise, there are some things you can do for your baby to boost their immunity against the flu:

  • Breastfeed: Breast milk is custom made to fight germs and protect your baby from infection!
  • Wash hands frequently: Wash yours and your baby's with soap and warm water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth: If you do, wash your hands.
  • Keep your baby close: Studies have shown that your baby's immune system and brain development are enhanced when they are held by their mothers.

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What have you found is the best way to deal with “handsy” strangers? Would you ever consider using a mamabear.com stroller sign?

What do you think?

Don’t Touch My Baby: It’s Flu Season

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

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8 comments

  1. cassie says:

    I will admit I have yelled at old ladies who think they need to touch my babies. With my second I had a Sprout Shell which I recommend to everyone if you’re not wearing your baby while out (another way I found people are less likely to touch a baby that’s at your breast) the sprout shell covers the baby seat and has elastic so people can’t flip it up and look/touch like they did with the tent cover I had with my first, they really have to go out of their way to put their hand in the hole at the top and it’s easy to stop that from happening. I have no problem being disrespectful when it comes to protecting my babies though.

  2. Randys Girl says:

    Wow, these are really generic! I got the do not touch and wash your hands signs for my premies from this website: http://DontTouchbaby,com

    They have a lot more options.

  3. sarah says:

    These are good ideas. I am 34 weeks pregnant and my last baby was premature and died in the hospital because her little immune system wasn’t strong enough and got sick. I am so nervous about hurting people’s feelings or being rude, but at the same time I won’t have my baby getting sick because I was too scared to tell people NO.

  4. mommy nhoj says:

    It’s really difficult to be polite while protecting young babies. I might consider not just a stroller sign but my baby wearing a hat or dress like that 🙂 Seriously, I think my baby is healthy and thinking of skipping the second dose of flu vaccine from her last well visit. My husband who is a nurse insisted to have it as it can protect our baby.

  5. Christine says:

    Thanks for all the tips. It’s hard keeping people away when they only mean well. I especially like the idea of telling them to play with the baby’s feet instead. That way both parties will be happy.

  6. sayhola says:

    Thanks for the reminder of this helpful tip: “Studies have shown that your baby’s immune system and brain development are enhanced when they are held by their mothers.” I didn’t know that! 😀 Makes an additional case for baby-wearing: boosts the immune system, and people are less likely to touch a baby so close to you!

  7. Dianna says:

    I can’t believe strangers put their fingers in other babies’ mouths!! I was so horrifeid to read that as a mom-to be I would definitely get that sign.

  8. Amy says:

    Here is my thought….YES I would use one of the signs!! It has been a bad flu season I think and the last thing I would want is my baby to get sick from a stranger .. I also agree to the part of NO ONE needs to stick their finger in my babies mouth.. That’s why they make pacifiers, don’t need your dirty fingers!!! I also think the distracting a kid and telling them to play with the feet is a good idea, never thought of that… Kids always go for the face…

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