Before I became a mother, I’ve heard from my mom that most of those expats where I grew up do not like people touching their babies. With my naive thoughts, I’d say “Why not?” Now I know why!
Yes, babies are cute, they smell good and their plumpness seems to act as an unwritten invitation for strangers to touch them. Strangers who just came up to us in public places and starts holding his hand makes me cringe. Why? Well, …let me try to break it nicely, people. First, God only knows where those hands have been. Second of all, who knows what kind of germs those strangers might carry around?
When we were still living in Dothan, AL. and Lil’ A was just a baby we did not experience much of these. Some will just stop, hold his little foot and say a few nice words.
Now, here in Indonesia…where sadly hygiene senses still below the par and most people still don’t practice basic hygiene & sanitation (i.e. washing hand after a toilet trip). This is scary! For moms with small babies these facts are enough to make you paranoid but at the same time, you wouldn’t want to come out as too strong. From visiting some Asian countries, I concluded that it is affectionate ways when strangers come up to you and start touching your baby. It’s considered a normal thing to do so when you flat out tell them NO some will easily get offended and calling you a snobby mama! For first time moms here, it’s not easy to balance protecting their babies and not offending others.
I used to worried too much about these germs before Lil’ A was a year old because, for me, a baby will not be able to verbally communicate what bothers them when they got sick. Dealing with a sick infant is a horrible guessing game! Is it a stomachache? Is it stuffiness? Yes, there are germs everywhere but if we can minimize the exposure coming from strangers that would at least make life a little easier, no? Lil’ A was a preemie so…
Back in August 2007, Parenting magazine published little tips to avoid strangers from touching our baby:
- Redirect the love. Leave your baby’s socks off, and encourage people to touch her adorable feet.
- Tell a little fib. Warn strangers that your child’s been up all night puking and pooping (even if she hasn’t). No one wants to get sick, no matter how cute she is.
- Tote a travel-size bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer— it’ll work in a pinch.