Bringing a new baby earth side is filled with so many emotions, mostly good, some scary. This precious little soul who just spent the last nine months inside of your body, is now out in the big world,so very innocent, and seemingly very fragile. It’s likely that you’ve been highly anticipating the moment when you get to snuggle your precious babe for the first time, see what/who they look like, and best of all, show them off to the world. As parents you will feel so much pride, you created this beautiful being, after all! Along with the excitement of meeting them, the pride you will feel for them, as well as yourself, it’s totally natural to also suddenly feel terrified. The world may begin to feel like a pretty scary place for this little soul, who is no longer protected by your body. A world filled with people who now want to touch, hold and kiss them, and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay for you to say no.
You didn’t have this baby to please others, you didn’t have this baby for everyone else to hold them. That may sound harsh, but it is the reality, and you’re totally allowed to set boundaries when it comes to who handles your baby. It’s typical for [well meaning] visitors to come after baby arrives, and it seems it's expected that they get to hold them. This can be particularly anxiety provoking, you may find yourself worrying about things (like germs) that you’ve never been concerned about in the past. You may find yourself feeling as though you have to say yes, these visitors came to meet the baby after all, didn’t they? Well, they can meet that baby and enjoy them from afar, if that is what your wishes are.
You may feel guilty for keeping your baby away from your visitors arms, however if you do not want to pass your baby around, here are some suggestions for an easier way to let your well meaning visitors know.
Ask for help around the house
Instead of blatantly explaining that you prefer they not hold the baby, politely explain that you’d appreciate it if they helped with household chores. Again, this may seem daunting, however it’s likely that they will be more than happy to help. Most people know how exhausting motherhood is, especially in the early days. If they don’t have first hand knowledge, it’s likely that they have at least seen it in a movie or two 😉. Another option, is to let visitors know before they even come that if they do, you’d appreciate a bit of help while you rest/feed/ snuggle with your babe.
Encourage them to play with the siblings
If this isn’t your first baby, encouraging your visitors to entertain the older siblings is a fantastic alternative to them holding the baby. Older kids are much more exciting anyways! You can do this by explaining that the bigger kids would love some extra attention and play time, since they may not be getting as much with the new arrival. Again- you can totally use this time to rest and snuggle with your new babe. (See where I’m going with this- take the rest while you can!).
Wear the baby
This is a great one, especially for when you not only have visitors, but are going to any sort of gathering. People are much less likely to ask to hold the baby when they’re snuggled into you in a cozy little wrap or carrier. Also- so many great benefits to baby wearing, so it’s a win win!
Ask them not to disrupt the baby
If the baby is sleeping somewhere, politely explain that you would rather them not be picked up as you never want to disrupt a peaceful, sleeping baby. The majority of people will totally respect that.
Be completely open and honest
There’s a lot to be said for opening up about our anxieties. Letting your visitors know how you feel about passing the baby around may be tough, however you may also be shocked at how well it’s received. They may not be thinking about the possibility of carrying germs, or even just how terrifying it can be for a stranger(to the baby)to be holding your baby. Opening up to them about it and being honest can have two benefits. First- it allows you to get how you’re feeling off your chest. Secondly- it may allow those people to respect the boundaries of future babies and parents they may visit or come across.
On top of worrying about visitors, or people at social gatherings, there’s the worry of strangers in public touching baby. Why is it that they always go straight for their hands? The two things that babies love to put in their mouths.
In these situations, it’s a little more difficult not to be completely blunt with them. Although, there are a few options.
Just as stated above- people are a lot less likely to touch baby when their snuggled into your chest.
Use a car seat sticker
There are so many cute little stickers that you can hang on the top of the car seat handle. It’s a polite way to let strangers know you’d prefer they not touch, however keeps you from needing to say it yourself.
Of course there will likely be times where you will have to speak up and just ask that they not touch. It’s tough of course when you know they are well meaning. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be rude, you can politely explain to them that baby is too little for the big germs in the world, and you just have no way of knowing where the germs can come from. If they get offended, don’t beat yourself up. It’s the first of many times that you’re going to find yourself advocating for that precious little one, so why not start practicing now.