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We’ve All Been There…
You’re in a public place with your little one and a kindly stranger approaches to express adoration over your baby. Whether you’re carrying a newborn just days old, or a giggling toddler, you probably don’t want a stranger to touch your child.
I had been warned about this from seasoned mothers, but still I wasn’t truly prepared for how I should react to this situation. This letter was written in response to this very situation. I’m not going to lie, I was a little fired up about this when I originally wrote it. Needless to say I sat on it a while before posting in the hopes that I could mellow it out. I don’t know how successful I was, but I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s ok to protect my child. It’s with that thought that I write this letter. (Keep in mind, my son was 12 months at the time of this scene, and I was still able to wear him.)
Don’t Touch My Baby!
First things, first! A little humor:
I hope this letter finds you well. We’ve not met before today, but I was compelled to write to you because of something that bothered me about our encounter earlier.
Today, my sister and I went to the grocery store together to do some shopping. I was carrying my son as I always do in his infantino carrier facing towards me. I find that wearing him helps to keep him from getting antsy in the cart seat. Also, we’re learning that he’s a bit shy and he feels more safe and secure close to Mommy. Let’s face it, all the people in the store can be a little overwhelming for us grown-ups, not to mention little ones.
I saw you smiling at us in the checkout line today, and I smiled in return. It’s always nice to see a friendly face, as that is so rare these days. Moments later, I was looking the other direction to say something to my sister. Within a few more seconds, I was facing forward again, and taken aback, when I suddenly realized that you had approached us and had your hand on my son’s face. Shocked, I immediately turned my body to move my son away from your touch.
Please understand, I am not trying to be rude. I think that if you were in my place, you might feel as dismayed as I did. You see ma’am, it’s flu season and although you seem nice, I don’t know you. I don’t know what germs you may carry. I’m not saying you’re dirty – you certainly seem nice enough, but not even you are aware of all the germs that may be on your hands after all the grocery items you handled just now. I also have been handling groceries, which is why I refrain from stroking my son’s cheek until after we return home and I have washed my hands. I realize some may consider this overprotective, and while I’m all about kids building immunity, I prefer them to do it playing in the dirt or petting our animals.
We grown-ups also have to realize that although he is small, (and absolutely adorable, I agree!), he is still a person. Let me explain what I am getting at. You and I, being strangers, would never imagine walking up and stroking each other’s faces, would we? I think it’s important for us to remember that these little ones still need the respect of personal space. He is young and cannot speak for himself just yet, but he is his own person. It’s my job to protect him and to be his voice while he is learning how to find his own and can communicate that he doesn’t like a stranger being so close to us. Stroking his cheek or his hair, or really any touching in general without permission, just isn’t appropriate.
I must admit, I was upset with you, although I didn’t say anything. Truth be told, I was more upset with myself because I didn’t say anything. So I’ve made up my mind that in the future, I’m going to allow myself to speak up, even at the cost of seeming rude. This isn’t the first time a stranger has approached us this way, and in my opinion, I have erred on the side of “grin and bear it” too many times. It’s not fair to my son for me to do nothing and for you to think that this is ok.
In the future, I encourage you to refrain from touching children and babies you do not know. I don’t know of a any parent who doesn’t have a problem with this on some level, and you are putting people in a really awkward position of having to be direct with you, which may put yourself in a potentially unpleasant situation.
In closing, if you would like to chat with me and my child in the store, I am more than happy to do so. I actually love talking to strangers! And my son loves to smile at you too. We welcome the conversation. Just please. Please don’t touch my kid.
Lil’ Dino Mommy a.k.a. Momma Bear”