Monday, August 27, 2018

Other People Handling Your Baby

Mary Cassatt "Child in Blue"

Dear Ladies,

My subject today addresses the problem of people who touch other people's babies and children.  I do not remember this being a problem when my mother had babies, maybe because so many other people were having babies and had children around them all the time. It also may be that the grandparents were usually near one of their children and had plenty of grandchildren to look after.  Now it seems people are baby starved. They continually reach their hands out expecting you to hand over your child to them.

They get offended if you refuse them when they hold out their arms for the child. They will even try to pry the baby out of his mother's arms.

This is a serious problem because mothers today do not want their babies or children handled a lot by other people, and they are sensitive about their children picking up some kind of virus or bacteria. Having sick children at home is a trial they do not like repeating unnecessarily.

I never had an insatiable desire to handle other people's children. I liked holding my own children, but I did not like it that people expected to hold my children on demand.  Sometimes I saw a sneaky trick: when I gave the baby to its grandmother while I went to do something else, another person not in the family (maybe someone who came over to visit) would manage to get the grandmother to hand the baby to them.  I saw it with the fathers, too, who were unaware of this trick. The mothers did not want their babies passed around but when someone saw the father with the baby, they managed to get him to hand the baby to them.

Mothers are holding 
 their infants quite close to them in wraps and carriers, but even then, people are so rude, they reach around and find the baby's head, foot, hand, etc. and stroke it. The parents get more and more frustrated at this rudeness. One lady had a sign she made that she attached to her baby's clothing, and it read, "Please do not touch my baby. Thank you for your consideration."

I saw one father that caught on to the way people were getting around his rule to refrain from handling his child.  He stopped someone who was reaching for the baby, by putting his arm in front of them as a barrier, stopping them from further intrusion.  Putting your arm between you and the grabby person is a good idea if you want to stop the invasion of folks who just have to touch your baby.

Also, there are people who, though they have been told they cannot carry someone's baby around, will poke the child or tickle them or constantly try to distract them, hoping the mother will give up. This is very rude.

No one has a "right" to hold a baby unless it is their own. Babyhood is so fleeting, and Mothers should cling to their little ones while they are little, and not be eager to let them go to strangers and other people, even in church. Your baby is not part of "the village" but part of the family. No one "owes" anyone the privilege of baby touching or baby holding.

I have seen mothers turn away from imposing people who are aggressively trying to grab their children. They cannot seem to see that the mother has given them the message of rejection by turning her back on them. Because of the sad fact that many people today just do not read your expression or your body language when it comes to the word "no", you might have to explain more forthrightly to a persistent person, that you do not want them to touch your children.   We ladies do not enjoy saying things that upset other people or that ultimately put stress on us, but sometimes, we must, if we want people to refrain from being too bold with us and our children.

If you have anything to add to the subject, please leave a comment.

Also, type in "How To Handle People Who Touch Your Baby" and you will see it is a huge problem.
In case you did not see it, here is the link I posted in the first sentence:

There could be other factors besides health and the welfare of the child, when considering how many people to pass the baby around to: what about that intricate bonding that goes on between the child and its own family---can it be interfered with by too much outside handling?  We do not know everything about this. But one thing that has come to light is that a child who gets used to going with just anyone who holds out their hands, may not have good discernment later on, and may go with strangers and put himself in danger.  Never despair of a "shy" child who just wants to stay with his mother!  That child will be a safe child.

My opinion is based upon personal experience and observation. I do not think we owe someone a "blessing" by being forced to give our baby to be held by anyone who is just longing to hold a baby.  Believe me when I tell you there are many teen aged girls who think they have a right to grab children, and they get very miffed when the mothers are tired of it and the baby becomes very irritable and cries because of all the handling.  I do not subscribe to the idea that it "blesses" someone if you let them hold the baby. Taking the baby to its real and aged grandmother is different. I feel I may bless them.


Dianne said...

I'm so happy to see this subject being addressed as I've always felt this way but never heard anyone else talk about it. It amazes me when mothers allow their babies to be passed around. This is especially done at churches. To avoid this without seeming rude I actually stayed home for six weeks after each child was born. I felt this protected them, even from the vireses that might be in other public areas. To this day, I don't ask to hold another person's baby as it just never felt right to me. Thank you for tackling some difficult and even embarrassing subjects, Lydia, including your other post about controlling people. It is also extra helpful how you give specific details and examples of all of these situations so we can relate and identify these things and be encouraged to respond correctly without feeling undue guilt.

Feminine Belle said...


This made me question myself if I touch someones child. I have played peek-a-boo while the mom paid her bill, playfully tell the young baby this a no fussing zone ( which they always stop and mom laughs), smile and say hello handsome or beautiful (even to small child), Asked how old (if I did not know the sex of baby), or remark on outfit, eyes, or the beautiful manners of the child as well as say I love the newer models. But can not for the LIFE of me ever remember touching some elses baby or child.
I can remember a time some one touched my daughters little booty on her foot as they were askin who crocheted it or some older women askin to see her as I nursed in a bathroom. (Before seating places or chairs were even given in bathrooms!) 😃

This is a great article as well as a timely one needed in a day and age of instant gradification.

There was one time in which my oldest ( a young teen ) spoke to a young child and the child reached out for her. She reached back and the mother chewed her out in a language I did not know. I know now I should have told her you dont EVER touch anyones child without permisson. It does seem that common sence has left this world at times.

Love these new articles and challenging our thinking as we should alwasy be mindful of our actions as well as thoughts around others if we follow Christ's example. KEEP THESE COMING! This was a good one that made me instantly question my own actions around others.

Blessed Homemaking said...

I thought I was the only who didn't see the need to hold other people's babies. I too, always enjoyed holding my own, but didn't feel the need (or the right), to hold other people's babies. It is so strange how everyone feels it is their right to come up and touch your baby these days--I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Now, on the other hand, it is as if some people think it is their duty to pass their baby around to everyone else, here. It is up to them, of course, if they want to do this, but a baby does not belong to everyone, it is yours. I see this a lot at church, and it's fine if a mother feels comfortable with it, but she should not feel obligated to pass around her baby to everyone. There are actually many diseases that can be passed to infants because their immune systems are immature.

carol said...

Good article about something I never thought about before. When I see babies in public, I simply smile at them and move on. Same with dogs.

Christine said...

My daughter JUST had her 6th child. She has used all these tactics. Still, they want to touch!
She stays home and rests, recovers, and establishes her routine for two weeks before leaving her home.

Mrs. French said...

I agree! I have occasionally wanted to hold a baby, but never even ask unless the mother is struggling to do something and could use the help, and even then I offer in the least pushy way possible. Sometimes I don't understand people. It's simple courtesy.

When I was a young child, my mother played the piano in church. She handed me my new little baby sister to hold while she went to the piano. I wasn't very old, but old enough for my mom to trust me with holding the baby for a few minutes. A lady from the church got up out of her pew while my mom was away, walked over to me and took my baby sister out of my hands and went back and sat down with her in her own pew. She never spoke to me or looked at me. It was like I was a piece of furniture. It bothered me so much I remember it clearly decades later, and have always tried to look children in the eye and smile, because they matter, and our actions can stick with them for many years.

The picture you shared at the top of this post - before I went to sleep last night, I saw that on Pinterest and saved it as the background on my tablet. :)

gail said...

Couldn’t help but nod in agreement to your admission of, ‘I never had an insatiable desire to handle other people’s children.’. Experiences fade in and out of memory, but one of my most impressionable encounters was with a young mother who asked me if I wanted to hold her infant. As an eighteen year old, myself, I did not possess the wherewithal to express my desire to NOT hold her baby! I did the obligatory holding of baby at that time, but I rarely hold other’s babies now, unless of course it is one of my own twelve grandchildren!

Reason said...

I understand this sentiment. I once had a relative stand over me without saying a word while I was holding my baby. I looked up to her silent stare and obediently gave my child to her. This was her and her sister's style. The sister who was my child's grandmother basically took my child from me mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally with the help of her son and the courts. I was a young first time mother who had no idea the situation I was in at the time.

Lynn said...

This is just awful, Lydia!!!! Just yesterday, at Walmart, I was passing a young mother and her recently born baby and wow it was just the sweetest little thing! I SOOO wanted to touch it's little toes....but I kept my hands BEHIND MY BACK and just leaned forward a tiny bit with a big smile and then smiled at it's mom....I know it's not right at all to touch another's child, except for perhaps patting the head of a toddler or young child. But that would the extent of my 'handling' any body else's child. I can't believe the stories of the bold ones of which you just wrote.

Lydia said...

Yes in churches its like they think they have a right to pass around your baby. Once my mother took my baby to hold. she was sitting next to me and someone came and lifted the baby out of her arms!

Lydia said...

Since they should be required to wash their hands first before holding the baby, you should always send them away to wash their hands but tell them you wont be passing your baby around anyway. I dont like the way they bodly invade the mothers space when she has one of those baby slings, the kangaroo holders. Thats just too much. We dont even get that close to each other without babies. Its just so invasive. I like the signs the mothers are making and hanging on the baby carriers, to not touch the baby.

One time someone came to my house and while my daughter was taking a shower and I was minding the baby, they came over and rubbed the baby's head. Since then I've developed the karate type barrier, sticking out my forearm to block anyone. However sometimes they reach around, under, above, and touch the infant. How very sick that is, I think. It might be fun to pretend you are carrying a baby in a sling and walk around church or a store and see what happens.

Lydia said...

If someone had a good video camera, it might be fun to post a scenerio of this, on youtube, with the pretend baby, and see how many people try to lift the baby from you. I always thought it ought to be a huge news story blasted across the airwaves, showing the danger and the rudeness of trying to touch someone elses baby. Its just so rude.

Lydia said...

In our families we have assigned people that the baby will be held by: the mother, siblings, grandmothers, and maybe one other person, but those people know they cannot pass the baby to anyone else but these people. There are some sneaky people who will wait until a grandmother has the baby or a sibling and then hold out their arms expecting the baby to to passed to them.

Church is a sticky situation because when my husband had the baby he didnt want to offend the members that held out their arms. He was being financially supported by them and thought it was rude to refuse the baby to anyone. So often I tried to find my baby after I handed it to him, and he didnt know where the baby was. This is really something a woman has to step in and put a stop to. We learned pretty early, to prevent this, after a couple of errors. But one reason we got caught up in it in the first place was when we were growing up, people didnt do that. It seems to have started in our generation, and we were not warned about it. Im the oldest of 7 children and no one ever was eager to hold my mother's newborns. They all had their hands full of their own business and were taking care of so many other things, the last thing they wanted was to disturb someone's baby.

Lydia said...

When I did a search about this problem online, I found some very clever and amusing results that parents have created. One is, to say the child has just had a cold, or flu, etc. Another is to say we aren't letting people touch our children, and another is to say no-thank-you when someone offers to hold the baby. Just say no . And I was accused of being selfish when I did that, but its part of the territory. Women also expressed dismay that so many people touched them when they were pregnant. Isnt that awful? THey started doing that in the last 20 years or maybe more. Previously, you didnt touch a pregnant mother.

Unknown said...

One thing I don't see mentioned is that not everyone knows HOW to hold a baby and to properly support the head. This could be pretty dangerous if the baby is not held correctly.

Amy B said...

I stayed home several weeks as well after a new baby to keep everyone from touching. After my second child, ladies from a congregation that supported us at our small church held a shower for us. I was sure to nurse prior and put him to sleep. So, when I came without the baby many ladies were miffed. When the event was all over, they insisted I bring him in. I did but in is carrier/car seat. One lady very boldly unbuckled him and took him out. I was speechless and a bit offended by her brazenness.

I am quite surprised however at the number of mothers I’ve encountered that readily pass off their babies at church. That even goes for babies being sent at 6 weeks to daycare.

Amelia said...

I understand how this is a problem, I remember with my firstborn, thinking of placing a sticker on her back that she doesn't feel well etc. I remember at a grocery store, a man I knew nothing about loudly asked: "Can I hold her?" I just smiled hugely and said in a cheerful voice a short decline...But in such a way that the man was not offended.

I also have seen the want to hold a baby from the other end, my mother who loves babies and was only able to have one baby (myself) reached her hands out at a family gathering to a nephew holding his baby, probably six months old. The nephew, the father of the baby just shook his head no.

My poor mother did not say anything but I can only imagine how it made her feel. Let's be kind about things, smile and be sweet explaining why.

Kindness seems to be a missing ingredient these days on *both* ends at times. I'm sure that kindness is a given here in this article but many times I personally am incognito and am shocked at the unkindness of some who do not know how to decline kindly.

Lydia said...

Of course there are always different circumstances and exceptions, but generally it is not polite to demand to hold someone else's baby, and especially if the mother just does not to allow it. I was holding one of my grandchildren not long ago and as I walked past people, they held out their arms. I remembered how often I had given my child to my husband and he let it be taken away and they handed it to someone else and on and on, til I didnt know where the child was. It seems to be getting worse today with the give me your baby on demand because I want to hold a child. Most people dont realize it is not a personal right to hold someones baby, but the rights concerning that baby belong entirely to the mother. If she wants help she will ask for it or decline, depending on what her policy is. I know as a preachers wife it is usually a problem of many more hands reaching out in church and it gets to be making the baby kind of sore being passed around. For people not in that kind of social position, maybe you dont experience it so much and have not seen the harm in it, but some people just have to make a policy about who will hold their baby. And of course politeness is important. However there are people who don't "get it" when the mother is kindly declining, and they pester and prod and poke and insist, until the parent has to be so firm that they sound rude. And there are some people that are so involved in getting what they want, that even a polite refusal sounds rude to them.

Lydia said...

Also ladies, to see how big a problem this has become, please do a search on please dont touch my baby or please dont ask to hold my baby and see the many message boards addressing this problem.

Lydia said...

ladies I'm closing comments on this post because I'm moving on to other subjects. If yuo need to know more about the subject on this post, type in a search question about it to see the enormous amount of concern over it. Thank you for your feedeback.