Babies are adorable. They're made of all the things we find cute; big eyes, big heads, round cheeks, even their intoxicating scent. So, it's really no surprise that well-meaning strangers are drawn to a newborn baby like moths to a flame. They flock to new babies, hands out, ready to hold that tiny human and ready to elicit the thoughts every mom has when someone touches her baby for the first time.
The first time I took my newborn to Target I was terrified, proud, and completely overwhelmed. I was wearing my son in a buckle carrier, his head on my chest, so I was fairly certain no one would try to touch him. Yeah, I was wrong. Turns out, people are determined to touch babies and will go for any exposed spot, exploiting all options with reckless abandon. A foot? A leg? An arm? Sure, why not. Top of head? Well, of course. A sleeping newborn, nestled in the carrier, with just the very smallest amount of cheek showing? Yes. Definitely, yes.
If a baby-touching-person wants to touch your baby, they will touch your baby regardless. Because these particular people are so determined and, you know, everywhere, I feel reasonably confident saying that most moms respond in the same way. While some people actually don't mind their babies being touched by strangers, most definitely do. So, when you see a mom biting her tongue while you touch her newborn, assume she's thinking the following (and, you know, back the you-know-what off):
"Awww, My Baby Is So Cute"
Initially, you're flooded with pride that your baby, your beautiful perfect creation, has attracted the praise and admiration of complete strangers. They are so taken with that perfect face that they simply cannot help but touch it.
"Oh, God. Wait. No!"
Then your stomach clenches as you realize, "Um, a stranger is touching my baby." That cheek, which up until now has only been stroked by family and close friends, is being touched by stranger hands. You have no idea where those stranger hands have been. You have no idea how clean (or not-so-clean) they are. Nope, this is unacceptable.
"I Really Hope You're Not A Smoker"
You discreetly sniff the air because, yes, you're catching a faint hint of cigarette smoke. You really and truly do not want a smoker's hands on your baby.
"Well, At Least It's Not Flu Season..."
It's the middle of summer and there's not a bad case of the flu going around, so at least there's that.
Then again, what other germs is this person harboring? That virus that turns people into zombies in Resident Evil? Assuredly.
...Or, "OMG It's Flu Season"
It's February and everyone in Target is sniffing and sneezing. You notice the nice old lady touching your baby has a tissue clenched in her other hand, so you are positive your baby has now been exposed to the flu. Make a note to call the pediatrician as soon as you get to the car.
"How About I Pat Your Head And See How You Like It?"
I mean, honestly, how would this particular stranger (or any stranger, for that matter) feel if some random person went up and starting pinching her chin? I'm going to assume that wouldn't fly, so it really shouldn't be flying right now.
"Would It Be Rude Of Me To Offer Hand Sanitizer..."
Since I have a bottle in my pocket, in my purse, in my diaper bag, and two in my car, I have plenty to spare. Would she think I was implying she was unclean? Is that overboard? I mean, to me that seems pretty reasonable.
"...Eh. Too Late."
She's made contact with my baby so whatever germs may or may not be on her hand, is already on my baby. I'll just, um, pretend like this isn't happening.
"He Better Not Have Just Come From The Men's Room"
OMG he did, didn't he?! *reaches for hand sanitizer*
"As Soon As We Get Home, Bath Time"
I am going to have to bathe this baby like he's never been bathed before. Is there baby safe antibacterial soap? No? Yeah, that's probably overkill...