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Mommy Dearest: Require Baby Handlers to Wash Their Hands?

Mommy Dearest,

I am six-months pregnant with my first baby and I'm a wary of germs. I saw the poll you posted on people washing their hands before they hold babies and decided I want to require my baby's visitors to do so once she arrives. Is that realistic?

— Clean Hands to Hold My Baby

To read the response from Mommy Dearest,


Clean Hands to Hold My Baby,

As a new mom you should feel comfortable stating your expectations when it comes to people handling your new bundle of joy. I'm sure your friends and relatives will be happy to abide by your request. The results of our poll showed that 57 percent of lilsugar readers already take it upon themselves to rinse so I don't think politely asking those who don't to wash up is out of the ordinary.

— Mommy Dearest

Submit a question for this feature at the Mommy Dearest Group on TeamSugar.

Join The Conversation
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
Every time I visit a newborn baby I ALWAYS wash my hands, that goes without saying in some cultures. Its not weird to ask vistors to do so and you have the right to have them do that. I would find it weird if a parent didnt have hand washing as a requirement.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Newborns' immune systems aren't fully developed at 6 weeks. A child's immune system isn't fully developed until they are 4 or 5 YEARS old. And, part of developing the immune system is exposure to a natural environment. Of course you want to be a little more careful with a very, very young child. But, I was talking about a general philosophy. This woman is still 4 months away from even having her child and already she is very concerned about the possibility of her child coming in to contact with any germs. That seems a wee bit extreme to me. In my opinion, the fact that being a germophobe is more harmful to your children than helpful is probably something she should hear.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
one of the great things about being the mom is that YOU make the rules :) i can't imagine any of your friends having a problem with what makes you (new mommy) happy and comfortable. congrats!
amerikanbeanhead amerikanbeanhead 9 years
Not every little thing maybe but I work in a daycare, have two sister who are much much younger (13 and 15 years younger)as well as several cousins and Im a nanny. I also used to volunteer in the maternity ward and while it is obviously encouraged to wash your hands on a generally frequent basis its never been seriously recommended nor has it been posted that you need too. Its just a general level of cleanliness. If you are a generally clean person and your washing your hands on a semi frequent basis your not going to be introducing them to anything more than what is naturally around them in the enviroment I was taught this from even childhood as my daycare provider was a former hospice/pediatric nurse. Not to mention the fact that you cant sanitize the air that they breathe in, which is a huge cause of disease and illness. That being said everybody has their own opinions and especially when it is in regards to their children they are always going to do what they think is best. And thats great. All this stuff is just my opinion and you can choose to think Im wrong if you so desire :)
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I only use antibacterial soap when none else is available. Not only does it breed stronger germs, but in order to kill germs it requires more handwashing time than regular soap.
leeannpr31 leeannpr31 9 years
I think in the hospital it makes sense. If a visitor (your own or even someone else's) transfers something contagious to a baby it's possible the baby will then infect the other babies in the nursery. Since most people only stay 2 days they might be sending babies home with an infection without realizing it who will then infect others, plus there's always new babies coming in who will keep picking up the infection. I think that's why hospitals ask visitors to wash frequently, they're not just thinking of your baby, they're thinking of all the babies in the nursery. There's an episode of House where they actually had an infection in the nursery. One sick person transfered it to the baby, the other baby's contracted it in the nursery and they had to send incoming patients to another hospital so their babies didn't get it in the nursery. Once you're at home I think you can just use common sense. After handling food, before and after diaper changing, when hubby's been out working in the yard, if a visitor comes over and seems like they might be getting a cold, etc.
katedavis katedavis 9 years
And you don't even need to use antibacterial soap to kill the germs (which actually breeds stronger germs). Regular soap is good enough to wash the germs off your hands.
katedavis katedavis 9 years
Having people wash their hands before holding a baby is not being a germophobe! It's one thing to take your baby to public places and expose them to germs that way, but why would you risk your newborn getting actually sick because someone sneezed on their hands before they hold your baby? It's common sense. I did not hesitate to ask my brother-in-law to wash his hands before holding my son (everyone else did it without my having to ask). And I didn't feel bad calling him out on the fact that he clearly did not use soap when he went into the bathroom and came out a second later claiming he had washed them (he was 27 by the way, not 7).
Greggie Greggie 9 years
Asking people to wash their hands before holding a newborn isn't "sanitizing every little thing." I've never had a doctor or nurse NOT recommend it, in three deliveries and two different hospitals. Even the entrances stated that visitors should wash.
Ericka Ericka 9 years
Sure it's good to expose them to germs eventually but newborns immune systems aren't fully developed for around 6 weeks so it's best to wash your hands before handling them. They are so fragile in the beginning why would you want to chance them getting sick.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Most people just do. And if you don't want anybody touching your child without washing their hands first, by all means ask. But, know also that the commenters warning about oversanitizing your children's environments are spot on. Children who are allowed to encounter the world as is - not a sanitized, alcohol stripped version of the world - have less illnesses, lower incidences of asthma and might even hold on to their mental health a little better. ;)
roxtarchic roxtarchic 9 years
i agree glamourp... a lot of our friends also are smokers and i never had to ask any of them to wash... they just did. but i think we ALL find ourselves washing our hands more. and i wasnt all that concerned once he was say 5 months... i mean now, i ask people if they want me to hose him down before they pick him up, w/all the drooling and the crawling and the teething anything in his path that goes on w/a 10 month old... (oh and did you know that teething often brings on a snotty lil nose too which is really cute) but when he was younger, the first month or two... i DIDNT want him exposed to germs that he didnt have to be exposed to. he had his first cold at 3 1/2 months old... (right when i went back to work) and it's not FUN having a sick baby... a lil hand washing goes a long way...
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 9 years
I'm all about her getting dirty and germy, but I'm really weird about people that touch my daughter. I constantly wash my hands around her and make my husband wash his too ..especially since he smokes.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 9 years
This is a toughy. I am a bit of a germaphobe (sp?) too but you have to know that germs can be good. The more you expose them too the better they are off. I know that may be a bit hard to do. I know I will be in the same boat when I have a child.
amerikanbeanhead amerikanbeanhead 9 years
You cant shelter them from every germ. Your actually putting them at a greater risk by over sanitizing every little thing. You are not born with an immune system that knows how to fight every little illness or germ out there. It has to learn how and that means they are going to have to be sick once in a while. That being said I would hope most people would be washing their hands on regular enough basis that they are relatively clean.
bessa bessa 9 years
It made me feel more comfortable asking people to wash their hands by explaining "she hasn't had any vaccines yet" or "if she gets any fever before X date, they have to admit her to the hospital." Those were the things that made ME realize how important it was, so I would explain them to others. Not that you're required to explain - it's your baby - but it might make it easier for you to ask.
cherrygirl143 cherrygirl143 9 years
The sooner kids are exposed to the world the healthier they will be. Parents that shelter their children from every little germ have the sickest kids. I'm all for a clean house but there is no reason to be over the top. I would think that the people holding your baby are people you know and trust...and most likely clean. As long as they are not putting their fingers in your baby mouth...why does it matter?
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i'd find it pretty weird if you asked me to wash my hands, to be honest i'd do it, obviously, cuz it's your kid, but i would think you're a weirdo for sure, unless i looked dirty for whatever reason
latinav latinav 9 years
I don't think there is anything wrong with asking someone to wash thier hands before holding the baby. Its not so much what you ask of people but how you ask. Some people are easily offended.
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 9 years
Many, many people ask others who want to hold the baby to wash/sanitize their hands. Everyone I know does it for about one year.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I would hope most people would offer to wash their hands, or just do it without being asked, at least when visiting a newborn. If someone's offended by being asked to wash up, they shouldn't be holding my baby. At least that's my feeling. *lol*
roxtarchic roxtarchic 9 years
Wow.... i didn't know that it could burn them either. We had the sanitizer by the changing table & of course in the kitchen, but to be honest... i didn't use it that much because i thought... it smells like THIS and it's got alcohol in it... ehhhh, i just use the wipes, or wash my hands. I also think there's nothing wrong w/asking someone to wash their hands, i think most people did it anyway!
Greggie Greggie 9 years
He didn't even have sensitive skin. I was really overprotective with it when it came to my second, who has my incredibly sensitive skin.
anniekim anniekim 9 years
Greggie Thanks for the info. I just looked up the earlier thread. I have been using hand sanitizer after changing my newborn (no sink near changing table) but now I'll revize that practice. I had no idea. You must have been horrified when your child was burned.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I said it in the other thread, but please, if hand-washing is available, use that instead. It's not at all uncommon to burn babies, especially newborns, with hand sanitizer.
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