PSA: Infant/Baby Etiquette 101

Number One, and I cannot emphasize this enough: Don’t. Touch. The Baby.

Babies are cute. Babies are adorable, and huggable, and squeezable, and lovable.

As a woman inflicted with baby lust for the past 18 months or so, I understand how strong the urge to touch a baby is.

But if you are a stranger, please, please, please, don’t touch the baby.

If you absolutely must touch the baby, please ask the mother and/or father first. Please, when they offer you some Purell, don’t get offended — use it. We don’t know where you’ve been and what your hygiene habits are, and we don’t mean to come off as judgmental, but this is our baby we are talking about, our precious, and the last thing we need is for that baby to pick up something from a well-meaning stranger who couldn’t keep her/his hands to her/his self and bring it home with us, where it may make sleeping, nursing, and otherwise generally adoring our baby more difficult.

Please, don’t touch the baby.

Thank you.

1a. Now obviously, if you’re heading to your BFF’s house to visit with the new parents and their new baby (I hope you’re bringing food!), you are somewhat expected to touch the baby. Please wash your hands first. Thank you!

1b. If on the other hand, you are heading to your BFF’s house, and you would rather not touch the baby — it happens; the newborn head-flop thing makes people, especially men I’ve noticed, extremely nervous — it is okay to beg off. Simply say something to the effect of, “Infants make me nervous. I’ll just look while my wife holds her.” I, for one, have never been offended that someone doesn’t want to hold my baby. As a person with baby issues at one point in my life, I get it, and it’s okay.

Number Two: Don’t judge me for how I am feeding my baby.

If I am using a bottle, I don’t need a lecture from you about how breast milk is best for my baby. For all you know, that bottle has breast milk in it. And even if it doesn’t, it’s none of your damn business.

If I choose to breast feed my infant in public, please look someplace else instead of getting huffy and offended. I know that it’s hard to believe, but breasts are not for selling beer (or cars, or website URLs). They are for feeding babies. I tend to be a modest public feeder, and I prefer to drape a blanket over my shoulder and my child, but some women do not have any qualms about it. (And some babies HATE to be covered. They have a point; you don’t eat with a blanket over your head.) Do us both a favor, and avert your gaze.

It is my baby’s right to eat; it is my right to feed him/her. I don’t need to go to the bathroom to spare you a flash of boobage with a baby’s head latched to it. Do you take your meals in a public restroom?

Dear Lord, I hope not.

Anyhoo, I am not a lactivist, and, frankly, I have no problems with moms who choose to formula feed for whatever reason, so I’m not going to go on and on about this. Just: leave me and my eating baby alone. “Kay? Thanks.

3. (This is a tough one, I admit to being guilty of it.) Try very hard not to exclaim over the size of the baby. “He’s so big!” is just as troubling as “He’s so small!” Few factors that influence a baby’s size (DNA primary among them) are under a parent’s control. About all we parents can do is feed the baby, and hope he/she grows well.

4. If you have opinions about whether moms should stay at home, or work outside the home, you don’t have to share them. Almost every single parent I know has hashed over the options of what to do after the baby is born, and has decided what is best for his/her/their family. I’m sure there is even many a mommy or daddy out there who has gotten six months into decision A and for whatever reason has changed course to go with decision B (or C, for that matter). It’s extremely personal.

5. Don’t tell me what my baby should/should not be wearing. Or how to carry/hold him or her.

Or, really, anything. He/She is MY baby. Weighing in on any of these matters makes you sound like a Judgey McJudgerson. Parenting is the hardest job on the planet (to my experience, so far, anyway), and I am figuring out what works — from socks or no socks, to a sling or a stroller — for me and for my baby. You (I would think, if you’re offering an opinion) have had your turn with your children. And now, it’s mine (and my partner’s).


In the spirit of my follow-up to the pregnancy PSA:

You may absolutely exclaim over how adorable/beautiful/happy my child is.

You may tell me I am doing a good job.

You may: hold open a door, pick up something I have dropped, pick up something my child has dropped (and hand it to ME), and/or offer to hold my bag or umbrella. I’m telling you, along with a baby a parent should get either a third arm or the power of telekinesis.


Okay? What did I forget this time?

10 thoughts on “PSA: Infant/Baby Etiquette 101

  1. Unless you know for sure it’s best to say, “What a cute baby!” instead of “What a cute little boy/girl.” Although a baby’s gender is often hard to distinguish it hurts a mom to have her baby misidentified, no matter how innocently.

    • Actually, this is a good point. I was always surprised when people commented what a happy little boy Kate was. I mean, she had pink stuff on (not ALL the time, but still). I think they just thought that because Flora was clearly a little girl, and Kate was clearly bald. Color-coding didn’t work. 🙂

  2. I just want to say that you rock with these PSAs! They are spot on, and EVERYONE that is EVER around someone pregnant or new children needs to hear, know, understand, and follow these rules.

    Some of the things people do related to all of this appall me; certainly don’t amaze me, as I’ve gotten cynical in my young age and understand that as a populous whole, people suck (though individuals can certainly be awesome.)

    So, again: You ROCK!

  3. Yes, my newborn has zits, flaking skin, cradle cap, and scratches from his own fingernails. Yes, I bathe him regularly and try to keep him from injuring himself. But thanks for asking.

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