Please help me tell good friends to not touch my newborn baby
September 19, 2014 4:53 AM   Subscribe

I am a new mom to a six week old baby. My husband and I are part of a close group of friends we haven't seen in a while. They're eager to meet this baby and we'd like to let that happen next weekend. However, please help me firmly yet politely tell them they can't touch her until she's a little bigger.

Most of them are single, none of them have children but would like to have children. And I'm happy to have them in my child's life, they're great people. Our baby was in the NICU for a few days after birth for apnea of prematurity and has not yet had her two month shots. We were told to isolate her until she gets those shots but that we can go out to eat with her as long as people don't touch her. We'd like to attend a house party next week where our friends will be eager to hold her, how do we politely tell them not to touch her and that they can not pick her up?

We had the baby at an important family event last weekend - both my inlaws and my family attended and everyone wanted to hold the baby. Well, they did, even though they washed their hands (most did) and my sweet baby came down with a bad cold this week and it has been hard for her to breathe and has been a little heartwrenching.

I'm looking for language to put in an email to send to our friends before next weekend's party to say something to the effect of - "looking forward to introducing you to to the baby, however, she's been sick, we've been told to isolate her since she has not had her two month shots, and sorry to be that parent but please plan to not hold or touch the baby."

I've seen lots of questions on here where kind mefites craft language for the OP. Please do so for me. I don't want our group of friends to write me off (they were my husband's friends before we married) as over-protective/hyper vigilant parent but i just don't want them touching the baby....

For those who have dealt with this issue, pls share how you've successfully navigated this issue..thx!
posted by dmbfan93 to Human Relations (54 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"We were told to isolate her until she gets [...] shots but that we can go out to eat with her as long as people don't touch her."

Who could possibly be offended by that?
posted by Leon at 4:56 AM on September 19, 2014 [46 favorites]

Skip the party. You'll be on edge and your friends will be uneasy. There will be other parties.

Or leave the baby at home.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:59 AM on September 19, 2014 [139 favorites]

You could always wear the baby in one of the complicated tie-carriers (like a Moby); people won't think you can take the baby out easily, and they won't reach out to touch since the baby is so close to you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:05 AM on September 19, 2014 [11 favorites]

Hi friends,

We've missed you and are excited to finally introduce our little pumpkin!

As you may know, Sophie was a premie. As a result, she has been having some associated respiratory stress. Because she's this tiny and haven't had all of her shots yet, she's at incredible risk for coming down with something much worse than adults would experience it.

Our doctor said we can take her out in public as long as she isn't held by other people. Once she's had another round of shots and is out of the woods, we would love to let you experience those amazing new baby cuddles :-) Until then we have to try to keep her somewhat safe and ask that you not hold or touch the baby herself.

Really looking forward to introducing her and seeing you soon!

Much love, dmbfan93
posted by barnone at 5:13 AM on September 19, 2014 [42 favorites]

An email will be about 50% effective. No matter what you write, there will be people who think it does not apply to them or that do not read it or do not remember it, etc. At this party, you will be constantly telling folks please don't touch little baby, doctor's orders.

I think Sweetie Darling is right, skip the party.
posted by 724A at 5:14 AM on September 19, 2014 [17 favorites]

Before, your family and friends were number one. Now your baby is. Set boundaries and stick to them.

Our baby was also preemie and had a lot of lung issues. I told my mum not to smoke if she visited. .. she smoked and thought she hid it so I asked her to leave and blocked her from going near our baby.

Was it easy? No, my mum was telling me I was being ridiculous etc etc... but that little miracle is everything to me and I'd someone won't respect our boundaries, no more baby access for them.

Or skip the party but this kind of thing will crop up again in one form or another.
posted by Admira at 5:22 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Honestly it would be better to not bring the little cutie and wait a few weeks for the next event. Babies are like puppies, they are so adorable that you are physically compelled to touch their adorable little fingers and cheeks, and hopefully be offered a chance to hold her while she snuggles in your arms. An email won't work, and even people who have been warned will still try to sneak touches.

(I've also noticed that people are really careful on the no touching thing with first kids, and mostly ignore it for later kids -- I'm not sure if that's from different medical advice or if it's just part of the shift from one to multiple kids or what, but people at the party may also downplay the "don't touch" warning if they have experienced that pattern.)
posted by Dip Flash at 5:22 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

No matter your good intentions, I think there's a very good chance at least a few people will interpret your email as saying, "I'm bringing a sick baby to an adult party."
posted by girlmightlive at 5:23 AM on September 19, 2014 [41 favorites]

Don't worry about being "that" parent. You are a great parent, you care about your child's health. You love her and she is very lucky!

"That's so sweet! You can't hold her yet, she was a preemie and she gets sick too easily."

Then just keep saying no.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:23 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Email isn't going to work for this, because a lot of people don't read emails or don't read them carefully. I'm not sure I think it's a good idea to go to the gathering, but if you do, you'll have to tell them in person. Honestly, though, it might be less stressful for you if you hold off for two weeks until she can have those two-month shots.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:32 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

You could mention flu season and high-risk populations.
posted by XMLicious at 5:32 AM on September 19, 2014

Don't go to the party
posted by Flood at 5:32 AM on September 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

You have to "train" people to handle infants that young and with an illness, including by insisting as a precondition to any holding they wash hands or use purell before touching the baby. Much harder to do that in a group setting. You're going to have to be "that" parent, with a large bottle of purell in hand. And your husband needs to be 100% on the same page, and equally vocal. They'll be fine. Let your husband do half the "enforcing." Make sure you or they pump out enough purell, people don't usually use enough to be effective.

But I would probably skip the party. It's also easier to "train" people on a one off basis. And in a few weeks you shouldn't have to worry about it so much (though one always does for much longer with one's first kid).
posted by odin53 at 5:34 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

What ThePinkSuperhero suggests definitely works. I did this with my baby when a bunch of friends visited - everyone cooed at her but no one touched her once. (As a bonus your baby will love it, especially as she was a preemie. You probably will too!)
posted by raspberry-ripple at 5:34 AM on September 19, 2014

Skip the party completely. If she's been sick, even if they don't touch her, it's exposing her to germs.

BUT, if you're insistent, just be honest. They may not totally understand because people without kids don't really understand why parents do some of the things they do before they have kids of their own -- but they will respect it.

Something like, "As much as I would love to share her more with you, at this time, she has been sick and hasn't had her two month old shots, so we just want to be better safe than sorry."
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 5:37 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Baby comes first.

Don't go to the party.
posted by gsh at 5:43 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

For heavens sake let your tiny, premature baby off the social hook. There will be plenty of time to show her off once her immune system is in better shape. Really, there will be other parties, and restaraunts aren't going anywhere either.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 5:44 AM on September 19, 2014 [17 favorites]

Firstly: Congratulations! And sorry that your little one is unwell.

I think that you'd be better off skipping the party, or leaving the little one at home with a sitter if possible. I agree with those who said that you will probably just be on edge the whole time if you go.

If you absolutely must go to the party and you think that an email would be an effective way to get in touch with people, I would advise against saying something like "sorry to be that parent but please plan to not hold or touch the baby." That makes it sound like you not letting people touch her is you being an overly cautious parent, when you actually have a legitimate medical reason for not letting people hold her.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:45 AM on September 19, 2014

When the most recent baby happened in my social circle, nobody even put their hands out the first time we saw her. It may just be that we are all ladies approaching middle-age and so we know better.

If you do go to the party, I would not send out a big announcement. If people want to hold her, look super-surprised: "Oh! She's still in quarantine phase, I'm afraid. But here, come around on this side so you can see her better."

And if you think that's going to upset someone, just don't go. People will still be breathing and gross even if they don't touch her.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:49 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's interesting, I have a young child, and when he was an infant I didn't have this experience where everyone around me was trying to touch my baby. People always asked, "Can I hold him?" And there was plenty of space and time to say yes or no.

You are not being "that mom," you have a 100% perfect reason for saying no. I'd just be sure to mention "preemie" and "was just sick" to drive the point home. If anybody is upset about it, they are an ass. Hell, even with my healthy, on-time son, I was a little worried about illness before his first shots, since I know there are more than a few antivax jerks around here.

I also say: Go! Everyone is telling you not to go, but I disagree. This is a gathering of good friends.

I do agree that an email won't be that effective, but I WOULD mention it to a couple of my closest friends, just so someone out there has my back, and could say something if anybody does happen to complain. And yes, make sure your husband is absolutely on the same page and able to speak up as much as you.
posted by hought20 at 5:53 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was kind of a nutjob about people touching my healthy baby for a while (not saying you are a nutjob, you have a perfectly good reason). I think you can easily go to the party and just politely explain in person if the issue comes up. You can deflect and give a little face of "I know it's ridiculous but doctor's orders" and that will probably come across better in person. In my experience with parties, babies, and friends who don't have kids, people actually weren't clamoring to hold/touch the baby. Go to the party, enjoy it, I bet you will only have to say no to a couple of people, and it will probably be a non-issue. My perspective is that of an extrovert who hated being stuck at home on baby duty and really wanted to get back into the swing of having a life and seeing friends, so ymmv.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:55 AM on September 19, 2014

It might be a bit easier to describe everything as 'the doctor's instructions.' Something like:

'Our pediatrician told us because of xyz, we can bring Baby out, but Pediatrician specifically said that Baby's immune system isn't strong enough to be picked up and cuddled. I am sure that Baby would love to be cuddled by you as soon as the pediatrician gives us permission.'

Also, will Baby be in a stroller? Leave Baby in the stroller with the hood up.
posted by jazh at 5:58 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mod note: As always feel free to answer as you like but please make it a response to the question and don't post just for the sake of discussion or admonishment, please. Thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:04 AM on September 19, 2014

I don't think you should miss the party if you want to go and are eager to introduce her. Just send an email saying "Hi everyone. Looking forward to seeing you at the party and introducing Baby. As you know, Baby is a preemie and has not yet had her two month shots, so the doctor has told us we have to keep her isolated. We can bring her out, but no one else can touch or hold her. We're so excited to introduce her to you all, but please keep this in mind at the party, so she is not exposed to (potentially serious) illness. Thanks! See you on Day."

Then of course, you need to verbally reiterate this when you get to the party. Stress that it is doctor's orders and she has been ill. I think if you do this, and wear a sling as suggested, people will respect your wishes and you shouldn't have a problem, and you can take advantage of this gathering and introduce your baby.
posted by catatethebird at 6:23 AM on September 19, 2014

As pertussis is a problem in my area, our midwife suggested babywearing as a good method for keeping well meaning but germy people away from our newborn. Perhaps an Ergo or a sling might help, in addition to some of the scripts others have suggested.
posted by statsgirl at 6:23 AM on September 19, 2014

I was in your position 10 years ago and I'm with the skip the party group. Though I sort of disagree with the restaurant advice too (the goal is to minimize exposure to people, period - you can't control something like someone sneezing a few feet away) but at least there you can keep them in the car seat and don't have to physically run interference on every passer-by. People seriously don't get this stuff and it was easier to avoid people for some months wherever possible.
posted by nanojath at 6:26 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a newborn who's about the same age, and I don't feel comfortable taking him out to social events yet, for logistical feeding/diapering/fussing reasons. It's pretty awesome that you've been able to take her places! And anyone in the world would understand if you chose to skip the party, or if one of you went and the other stayed home. Especially since she's been sick! (Plus, it is really nice to occasionally go out and do adult things without a baby in tow, so if you delegate one of you to go, it could be a welcome break.)

If you do bring her, some people may put on judgy faces about bringing a not-completely-robust infant to a party. Mentioning the "her doctor said we can bring her out" part of the sentence will help head this off. I like TPS's suggestion of carrying her in a wrap; in addition to people not wanting to take her out of the carrier, she'll likely sleep through the party. Sleeping babies are the best: people love cooing over them, and will naturally want to avoid waking them.

Consider planning an informal get-together a month or two from now, when your child's got her immunizations and has been cleared to be held by strangers. (Plus, she'll be a little more interactive by then, but still small and cute.) Not a party for the baby, necessarily, but an adult party with baby as an added bonus. When you go to this party, you can explain to your friends about how she's not ready to be held just yet, BUT you're thinking about having some people over in a few weeks, when she'll be healthier, and would they like to come?
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:30 AM on September 19, 2014

are your friends funny people? Send them this cartoon

or this one

or this if they've really got a sense of humor

Anyways I'd be inclined to make a joke with a picture - people see pictures, but won't necessarily read all the words. Plus it lightens things.

And maybe buy a wee little baby mask for your peanut to wear at the party?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:35 AM on September 19, 2014

Even if no one touches the child, someone is going to sneeze, or cough, or something. If you need to isolate the baby, then do just that.

I don't think anyone would be actually offended by saying the baby can't be touched, but you're basically going to have to say that to every single person the entire party. Not everyone is going to read or remember your e-mail.

You have a six-week old. No one would bat an eye at you missing a party.
posted by spaltavian at 6:36 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Don't be apologetic about it, and don't mention "being THAT mom" - no. No one should apologize for this, and no one should cast aspersions on moms who try to protect newborns from illnesses. This is normal behavior and you should treat it as such and not feel any guilt for it.

I'm a doctor and I know that every baby who spikes a temperature at less than 60 days of age gets a workup including a lumbar puncture/spinal tap. I therefore made it my resolution that there was no way I was going to let my baby get the sepsis workup if there was anything I could do about it. I didn't feel sorry for it and I didn't apologize to anyone for it. I said "she's just a newborn, and she doesn't have a good immune system yet." Nobody questioned that.

I think either baby wearing at the party or not going are both good options. You're in the right here - so say whatever you want to say, and if anyone has a problem with it, they are being clueless jerks.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:39 AM on September 19, 2014 [28 favorites]

Don't be apologetic about it, and don't mention "being THAT mom" - no. No one should apologize for this, and no one should cast aspersions on moms who try to protect newborns from illnesses. This is normal behavior and you should treat it as such and not feel any guilt for it.

A thousand times this. I've been thinking about a respons for quite a bit, but couldn't find the words for it. Treehorn+bunny nailed it.
posted by Ms. Next at 6:42 AM on September 19, 2014

Bring her in whatever kind of carrier works for you right now. Her face will be in your boobs, where people are unlikely to grab. (In terms of carrier choice, we started using the Ergo at 4-5 months, but a newborn doesn't fit in it well at all.) Put her in long sleeved footie pajamas, preferably ones that have mitts that fold over her hands. There may be a few people who grab at a foot or a hand before you can tell them to back off, but if she's covered up then all you have to do is change her clothes when you get home.

If you want to send an email, I think Barnone's hits a good tone. If these are good friends of yours, I don't think an email is out of place, as long as you know that you might still have to remind people.

I think getting out will be good for your sanity. You can be careful and take care of her. There is no way in hell I would leave a 6 week recently sick premie home with a sitter. If it's not going well, claim exhaustion and leave. But 6 weeks was pretty close to the nadir for me in terms of newborn baby hell and a little time with good friends might really be good for you.

This is only the first of many times you will have to do a risk-benefit analysis with regards to your children and yourself. (I've had a couple of doozies this year.) It's not easy, especially in cases when the risks are theirs and the benefits are yours. But if you really want to see your friends, and you take the very reasonable precautions described above, I think it's ok to go.
posted by telepanda at 6:43 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

For those who have dealt with this issue, pls share how you've successfully navigated this issue..thx!

We took our son to a large family gathering when he was 6 weeks old, there were no medical issues but I did not want people to just paw him or pick him up.

Anyway, I carried him in a sling, and so anyone who would have wanted to touch him would have had to actually almost touch my boobs to push aside the fabric ;-) No one did, and for anyone who wanted to see him I just moved the fabric so his face was visible. He slept for a while and when he woke up, and wanted out we left and no one was upset but quite understanding that we only remained for a short time (perhaps 1 hour, can't remember as it is 6 years ago).

The only thing with this is, you may want to check with your pediatrican, nurse or midwife first what sort of carrier or sling is suitable for a preemie. I do remember that in the baby wearing class I attended back then they cautioned about not wearing/carrying baby in a way or style which could harm them. There are wearing systems which only are suitable form a certain age and weight upwards. What I used was a fabric wrap, worn in a way called cradle. But he was not premature and had no breathing issues.
This shows what it looks like:

Or just carry Baby in your arms/over the shoulder, rather than in an infant carrier which needs to be set down. The advantage would be that baby is not exposed like on a presentation platter. One thing that struck me at a recent family gathering was that a tiny newborn was just placed on a coffee table in her car seat/carrier and yes of course everyone just reached in to touch her.
Or cover the carrier with a cloth diaper, keep it besides you and only briefly remove the cloth to show his face.
posted by 15L06 at 6:47 AM on September 19, 2014

I think baby-wearing may help, though people may still try to go for touching the baby's head. Perhaps put a cap on her?

When my friends had a kid, they straight-up said "Because of pertussis you're not touching our kid unless you've had all your shots" and we all understood. I don't think they took the baby anywhere exactly because of that, though.

The thing is, unless you're using very strongly-worded, specific language like that many non-parents will think "Oh new parents, haha, so paranoid!" and think it doesn't apply to them.
posted by schroedinger at 6:50 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

NB: If you haven't yet found a carrier that works for you, I've always liked the good old baby bjorn style for newborns. We used this relatively inexpensive version. Fits well, good head support, and for the duration of a party, it's not going to ruin their hips. I never liked slings myself, too easy for baby to get buried down in there and it hurts my shoulders/back. Heard good things about wraps if you're down with the complication factor, but I've never tried one.

We then switched to a more ergonomic, better-for-your-back-and-their-butt carrier (Ergo for us) when they got big enough to fit in it.
posted by telepanda at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2014

Our baby was in the NICU for a few days after birth for apnea of prematurity and has not yet had her two month shots. We were told to isolate her until she gets those shots

Just say that.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:03 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't bring the baby to the party. Even if you're the oly one touching her, you'll be touching other people / things, people and people may be breathing / sneezing / coughing germs and its all just not worth it. Don't mix party and baby at this time.

If you absolutely must (because this is like a funeral party or something) I would bring the baby in something with a mosquito net thing wrapped around it so that theres a little barrier between baby and people and you can just kindly explain that baby's immune system isn't up to par for contacting others. Probably a good idea in that case to tell teh host ahead of time, so maybe some can hear through the grapevine before you even get there.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:17 AM on September 19, 2014

The pouch type slings for a preemie will conceal them entirely or you can use a muslin nursing cover (aden + anais is perfect for this - breathable although obv. don't cover baby's face directly) to cover the baby lightly in a carrier/car seat/stroller so that people can't get close without lifting the blanket as a clear physical barrier.

I would skip the party if she's just been unwell, and have people come to see the baby in a less stressful place where she's in a stroller and they can peer at her but can't touch her. If you know you will have people who insist on touching her, then you have to be firm.

It's three months of no crowds, it's not worth the risk - our preemie was hospitalised for aspiration pneumonia and caught other infections and the difference between her health before 6 months and after was huge. They're so delicate early on, but it is a brief period.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2014

All other things being equal, I wouldn't bring her to the party. As you already know, it's sad and scary to have a sick baby. She's just come off of a cold - who knows what could happen next. Even if everybody behaves, there could still be flies or coughing or whatever else.


That said, if I were bringing her, here's what I'd say...

"Hi everybody! I can't wait to introduce the baby to everyone!

However, as one of my first parental duties, I must enforce a VERY STRICT no-touching policy at this time. She has some (stable, temporary) immune system issues. It doesn't matter if you've washed your hands. We've had to learn this the hard way - it was just a cold, but still. :(

So, yes. The baby can't wait to meet you, but for now, she is for looking and not for touching.

Thank you in advance for accepting IOUs for snuggles!"

I would then either carry her in a Baby Bjorn or in a stroller with a "NO TOUCHING - NOT READY YET" sign right the hell on it.

You do not need to be coy about this. You're not being "that mom" by making reasonable requests of people. There is literally no reason whatsoever for anybody to not accept your baby's needs and to leave it at that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:35 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Long-discarded cultural traditions addressed this issue by expecting the mother and baby to stay home out of reach of sick people and airborne infections for 6 weeks or until the baby was stable enough to be exposed to the wider world.

While we don't have those strict social taboos anymore that would shield you and the baby, there is the assumption that if you are bringing the baby out in public that the baby is well enough to interact with others. Without this cultural taboo, the onus is on you to make the decision for yourself not to bring the baby out into uncontrollable situations like parties. Skip it. Everyone will accept that the baby isn't well enough to go out with you to a party.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

FWIW, Chinese culture still traditionally enforces a similar quarantine time, albeit for a month. Source: I made a baby with a Chinese person, and we mostly kept to that tradition.

Point being, limiting a baby's contact with the outside world is a common norm.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2014

If baby is okay to do so, put baby in a sling snuggled tightly against you. Baby will likely eat and sleep in the sling. Slings offer much protection from the unwanted touching.

Or skip this event until baby is bigger, which I did a few times when my babies were small because in part they are exhausting with super tiny people and I would choose sleep over socializing.
posted by zizzle at 8:27 AM on September 19, 2014

Fwiw, I didn't take my baby out of the house for like the first seven weeks of his life, and he was no where near being a preemie.

After that, I had him in a carrier (Ergo) until he was like 7mos. Pretty much nobody touched him under those circumstances, and he was so happy to be cuddled up next to me.

So, I get that you may be feeling isolated and in need of adult conversation, but at the same time just know that these days will pass quickly, and there will be plenty of other opportunities for social interaction. Everyone will meet your baby sooner or later. The health of the baby (and peace of mind of the parents) comes first.

If you feel like you really don't want to miss the event, don't go about sending an email, that just seems dramatic. If someone at the party asks to hold her, just casually say "sorry, she's been sick lately so we're trying to limit her contact with others right now" or some such. No one can argue with a new mother.
posted by vignettist at 8:36 AM on September 19, 2014

I say skip. My daughter was a full term, 8.5 lb fat, healthy baby and she contracted Late Onset Group-B strep (I had tested neg) 12 hours after the first time I took her out of the house. She was 5-weeks old, a c-section so we were later getting out of the house but went to Target and a resturant and she was in the NICU the next day. It was horrifying... she was very close to death. Not trying to scare you, what happened to us was incredibly rare but if you know she has a compromised system......stay home and send everyone lots of pics. My second child (also healthy) didn't see the outdoors till he was about 12 weeks. It was that frightning... Baby girl recovered.....just a few motor issues as a result, we dodged a big bullet.....but stay home.
posted by pearlybob at 8:42 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

In addition to any other reasons to not bring baby to the party, consider that respiratory infections are readily transmitted through the air, so that even if you succeed in keeping everyone from touching the baby, there's just as much a possibility that she could pick up a bug by airborne transmission. I personally would put going to a crowded house party in a much higher risk category for contact with pathogens compared to taking baby out to a restaurant.
posted by drlith at 9:46 AM on September 19, 2014

Myself, I probably wouldn't go. But I think as long as you mention that it's doctor's orders and not just some idea that you pulled out of nowhere, nobody's going to be offended.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:13 AM on September 19, 2014

I am kind of in the camp of "just don't go." But if you are determined to go:

If you are someplace with cool weather, in addition to sticking her in a carrier strapped to your chest, put an oversized jacket on AFTER you put on the carrier and zip/snap it closed OVER the carrier to keep baby warm while dressing baby appropriately to that plan (not as warm as you would if baby needed to stay warm without your jacket around them, but not underdressed either). My oldest son loved it when I did that when he was an infant and people would need to literally start undressing you to get at the baby. If needed, have a formal showing of the baby to "introduce baby" at the party but just don't give people the opportunity to casually be too friendly.

Drop the solicitous language (about how eager you are to introduce the baby, etc). Don't be all smiley and stuff like that. If you really want to keep everyone from touching the baby in spite of being in the midst of a crowded party, you have to make sure you do NOT send mixed signals. Being overly solicitous, overly friendly etc will drastically undermine your "no touching" policy.

I have seen movies where a pregnant woman complains that "you're the 17th person who has touched my belly in the last hour." (or something like that). I did not go through that with either pregnancy. I am apparently a kind of stand-offish bitch or something. But people mostly left my babies alone. I am extremely confident that body language, voice tone and that sort of thing play a huge role in stuff like this. Most women are too "nice" for their own good. I'm not that nice. When it comes to my babies, I apparently come across like "I will cut you..." about a long list of things.

I left the house a lot with my first baby. I wasn't necessarily in crowded social situations of the sort you are considering here. But he got strapped to my chest and I walked to the grocery store, walked for exercise, went to the corner store, went to the mall once a week to keep from losing my mind even though I had no money to spend, etc. I went places. But no one touched my baby (if I didn't want them to).
posted by Michele in California at 10:46 AM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Priorities: which is more important your fragile baby's health or a party?
posted by Cranberry at 11:46 AM on September 19, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you're the first friend in the group to have a baby, there will probably be a lot of things like this - where you are sort of blazing the trail for your friend group. Things that you'll need to do, that your friends might be like "oh what a silly overprotective thing" about at first... and then when they have their own kids, they will come back to you and say "oooooh, now I get it." (I've certainly had this kind of experience as the childless friend - with the first friends who had kids, I thought "??" a lot, but over time seeing other people go through it, now the same stuff seems perfectly normal.) Like being a stickler about naptime or bedtime, or about not letting the toddler handle things she can put in her mouth, or whatever it is.

Just to say - probably your friends will be 100% fine with you not coming to the party or enforcing a hands-off policy. Among reasonable humans, new moms have a blank check, to do whatever seems necessary. But even if your friends raise questions at first, you just stick to your guns, and know that they will understand once they have their own kids, or have more experience being around friends with newborns.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:02 PM on September 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

if anyone has a problem with it, they are being clueless jerks

Not clueless, just uninformed. Honestly, most people (in North America) expect to be permitted to squee and slowly and with extreme gentleness, *watching the mother for any sign that this is not allowed*, touch a new baby's head or hand or cheek or whatever with one finger, and even hold it if lucky. I say this as a mom myself; I honestly never considered immunity even when my own daughter was born. I passed her around to whomever wanted to hold her from day one. Reading about your situation and comments above, I get now that this isn't the best idea.

I have a friend who had a baby last winter and who didn't let me touch him for weeks. She didn't explain, just said something vague like DUH, GERMS!!!!!! I tried so hard not to be, but I was really hurt because I didn't understand. All I'm saying is that while you mustn't feel apologetic, people who don't get it aren't stupid or jerks and an explanation to your friends would be thoughtful and kind.
posted by kitcat at 3:54 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know that you're going stir crazy, but don't take your baby to the party. Out to dinner isn't out to a party. A party is full of people, sub-optimal air circulation and lots of airborne bugs, especially with everyone's fall allergies in full swing.

Perhaps your partner can watch the baby and you can go, or vice-versa, so at least SOMEONE gets out of the house, but I don't think this is a good idea.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:39 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

How did I deal with this issue? By not going. Honestly, it's such a short but critical period in your baby's life, why would you even risk it? I was more paranoid (with good reason) than most mothers because we had a whooping cough epidemic in our area where a baby actually died plus a higher rate of non vaccinators due to crazy hippies so I'm more vigilant than maybe some other mums. I took my baby out for walks etc but they certainly weren't handed out and passed around for quite a while.

As other people have mentioned, your baby doesn't need to be handled to pick up an airborne respiratory illness. I can think of few better places to do it than a party with lots of people crowded in close proximity to each other, it's a great environment to pick up a flu.

I would simply tell people that the doctor has said the baby can't be exposed yet. As someone once said to me, if you think that's an awkward conversation, try being the friend at the funeral who gave the baby the virus that killed them. Now THAT'S awkward.
posted by Jubey at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's best if baby doesn't go to the party. There's no way you can account for all the variables (airborne pathogens, allergens, chemicals, etc.). It's also possible that you could communicate an illness to her if you touch something that a sick friend has touched without you knowing (or if they don't even know they're sick yet). If you're not prepared to keep hand sanitizer with you at all times or wash your hands every single time before you touch the baby, you have your answer.

Also, you say that you want people to meet the baby, but most of the solutions for keeping her safe from human contact while at the party will necessitate people not really seeing (or "meeting") her. Don't force the situation, don't finagle all kinds of contrived Baby Bjorn related arrangements or keep her zipped up in a coat like a frontally-attached camel hump.

It's only natural to want her with you all the time and to show her off to friends but that's not really in her best interests right now. If you want to go to the party, why not get a relative or friend (who's not sick, of course) to watch her for you? Bring lots of pictures, it will be almost as good. Everyone will get to see her face up close without making her sick and you'll still get to marvel over how adorable she is with your friends.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:45 PM on September 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

She's just getting over a cold and breathing issues? I say skip the party. If you bring her, like others have said, you'll be on edge all evening - even if no one touches her, who knows what could be in the air that might affect her? If you go without her, you'll be worrying about her and how she's doing all night. Neither of those sounds like a recipe for a night of fun. Like others say, there will be other parties after she's had her shots and has a stronger immune system.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:38 AM on September 20, 2014

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