Ah, flu season is upon us. Germs of all shapes and sizes rear their ugly heads wherever we go. Meanwhile, we mothers are approached from many directions by people who love babies…our babies…AND want to touch them. From my first to my fourth baby I was always cautious about exposing them to sickness as newborns and infants. As they got older and had well established immune systems (thank you breast milk!) I lightened up on the hand sanitizer and hovering over their every move.
However, I learned that when babies are around NOT everyone has the common sense about spreading their own germs to our tiny bundles. For example, how many of us have had someone put their finger IN our baby’s mouth in effort to somehow soothe them? Seriously? I wouldn’t let your finger in MY mouth! And I would barely put my own finger (which I just thoroughly washed) in my own baby’s mouth!
So, how do we protect our babies without being rude to those who have less of an inclination toward disease prevention? I will preface this by saying I have a very non-confrontational personality and find it hard to be frank in such situations. So, if you are similar to me, here a few strategies I used.
1) Throw the doctor under the bus. When my 3rd child was born, my mother-in-law threw a diaper party for friends to meet her new grandson and provide a pack of diapers. Such a wonderful idea and very much appreciated. However, put a 3 week old in a room with 15 ladies…lots of touches, hand holds, and willingness to snuggle the newborn. Not for me! At a previous doctor’s visit I explained the upcoming event and asked for advice. Yay! I got my answer, “a newborn’s immune system isn’t well established at this young age and it’s a good idea not to pass the baby around.” So, I kept my baby to myself and used the doctor as the reason I wasn’t comfortable letting anyone hold him.
2) Cover the baby. Only allowing “peeks” can help prevent unwanted touching. I also swaddled a lot to keep hands out of reach.
3) Keep hand sanitizer available. After baby came home from the hospital we always kept a squirt bottle of sanitizer around to just offer anyone who came to visit. I felt like I was offensive asking people to use it…like I was inferring they were disease ridden or something. So, I left the words behind and just held out the bottle before handing over the baby.
4) Use choice phrases. Here are a few ideas if someone asks “Can I hold the baby?” and you aren’t comfortable with letting them. “Oh, its alright, I’ve got him/her”, “Thanks for offering, I’m fine”, “He/she is pretty happy right now, I appreciate the offer”, “That’s okay, I’m going to keep him/her for now”, “He/she is sleeping and I don’t want to risk waking him/her”.
This issue is really left up to personal preference and I’ve known many a mom who is happy to pass their baby around and no major illnesses are incurred. Great. It has been said that, “prevention is the best medicine”. I’d rather risk a potentially uncomfortable moment to give my baby the best chance at a healthy start!
What do you do? What do you think?
Image used under creative commons license – Flicker user ID katietegtmeyer – 11/5/2014