Tips For Telling People to Keep Their Hands Off Your Baby
What's the first thing that people automatically want to do when they see a baby?
Squeeze their cheeks, of course.
There's something about a baby that just attracts everyone around. From their big, innocent eyes to their chubby cheeks to their squeezable little limbs, babies just seem irresistible. And no one can resist your baby more than the precise people that you don't want to touch your baby. Or, honestly, it could people that you know quite well and love and who only want the best for your baby. But even well-meaning people can mistakenly infect your baby.
Even if someone isn't noticeably ill, healthy adults can pass dangerous viruses and bacteria onto babies. Babies, especially very young babies, don't start developing antibodies on their own and rely on antibodies from their mom and those through breast milk as they develop their immune systems. This means that they are especially susceptible to catching harmful viruses or infections going around; and worse, they don't have the ability to fight them off as effectively as an adult if they actually catch something either.
Adults don't always understand that touching babies can get them sick. Kids don't always understand. And then there is the fact that some people still won't respect your wishes even if you politely ask them not to touch your baby. So, when that happens, here are some tips to firmly tell everyone to keep their hands off your baby!
Talk to the kids. Kids love babies even more than adults and their natural inclination may be to make a beeline for your baby. At holiday parties, out in the store, or anywhere in public, you'll probably encounter at least one curious toddler who wants to touch your baby. One of the tricks I've used when curious little kids have come to look at my babies is to simply say, very sweetly and nicely, of course, that “We can look, but let's not touch!” Parents soon get the hint with that warning around. It's also important to let my own kids know that we don't touch babies who aren't ours either because let's face it–there is a 99.99% chance that one of my kids has definitely been picking his or her nose and no one wants a boogery baby.
Wear your baby. This may be the best tip I've ever heard about ensuring that your baby isn't touched by well-meaning family and friends. No one is going to come reaching into your baby carrier (we hope, although I should never say never), so wear that baby loud and proud. Other people will eventually get the message, right?
Put socks and mittens on immune-compromised babies when you're out and about. One way to curb the spread of germs to your babies is to literally create a layer of protection on your baby. It's pretty common to try to reach out to a baby's hand and hold their little fingers or touch their little toes, but if you put socks or mittens on a baby, there is at least one layer of protection between their skin and icky germs.
Be upfront. Listen, here's the thing: no one wants to get your back sick before they visit during the holidays, especially if your baby has special medical needs. So be upfront with any guests or prospective holiday visitors. Put any necessarily restrictions in a card, or a status update, or even an email or text. You might request that no one hold the baby, that visitors refrain from attending your party if they have a cold, or that they wear a mask if sneezing at all. You can also stock your house with plenty of tissues, garbage bins, and hand sanitizer to try to keep germs at bay.
Stock up on sanitizing wipes. You can't use traditional hand alcohol sanitizers on babies, but it can be helpful to stock your diaper bag with baby-safe wipes that can help get your little one's hands clean in the event that someone breaks past your “hands-off” barrier. Wet Ones Wipes are touted as being safe even for babies.
Scan for cold sores. I am vigilant about this, after hearing one too many sad stories of babies losing their lives over a simple cold sore. If an adult with a cold sore kisses a baby, especially an immune-compromised baby, it can be deadly. Scan all of those aunts just wanting to plant a wet one on your baby before handing her off–and don't feel bad about not letting them kiss them if you spot a potential cold sore.
Claim that you're “soaking up every moment.” With my first baby, I was known as the “weird” mom who didn't let others hold my baby. It's a long story, but I got very sick after I gave birth and was separated from her for a week. The stress of being apart led me to be a little overly-anxious to hold her 24/7 and as a result, at every family gathering or party, I held my baby and didn't pass her off. Maybe it was selfish of me, but in the end, everyone tells us to “enjoy every moment,” right? So no better way to do that than through holding your own baby–and keeping other people's hand off them.
Do you have any tips for keeping people's hands off your baby?