Just like pregnant women are community property, so, to a certain extent are newborn babies and infants. When people see them out and about, at the mall, the park, in the synagogue, temple or church, they can’t help but want to squeeze those juicy cherubic cheeks, stroke that curly soft baby fine hair and try to get the baby to grip their finger.
All three of these areas are big NO TOUCH areas for most people and especially for strangers who do not know the baby or its parents.
1. The hands: At the earliest stages in a baby’s life, its hands are always in its mouth. They suck on their hands, fingers and fists for comfort. Adults have their hands on a variety of different objects throughout the day, often times picking up germs here and there. Most people do not use hand sanitizers nor wash their hands as often as would be ideal during the day. The worst thing a new mom wants to see is your grubby mitts exposing her newborn’s hands to whatever germ may be hanging out on your hands. It’s tempting and often times, understandably when you are overwhelmed by the cuteness in front of you, but don’t. Think before acting. It’s a gross thing to do.
2. The face: Many adults have sensitive facial skin and newborns’ skin can be no different and in some respects, are even more sensitive. They are fresh out the womb and are still developing their immunity. A cheek stroke from you (with your germ-filled finger) is liable to have the poor kid break out in a rash later. The mom may not be in a position to wash off your cooties before it’s too late. Just say no to the “cheek squeeze.”
3. The hair: Similar to the same reason you don’t touch a newborn’s face and hands unless you are its parent, pediatrician or just finished rubbing hand sanitizers on your hands moments before getting permission to approach the baby, you don’t touch or stroke a baby’s hair.
Of course, all of the above rules are flexible and can be waived depending on the situation and your relationship with the parents, but by all means if you are a stranger, it’s best to watch and not touch. If you must, tug at a socks or stroke the forearm. Understand, you’re still pushing your luck.
Just passing along a little public service announcement on behalf of all those new (especially first-time) parents out there who go through public settings full of anxiety on how to best protect their baby from unwanted advances. [That will be the subject of another post]