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Grandparents/visitors kissing a newborn?

My sister had her baby a couple weeks ago and I traveled there with my parents (which you should not do when you are 35 weeks pregnant 😂.) Anyway, at the start of the visit, I told my parents we should wash our hands before holding baby and not kiss the baby. Especially since my mom frequently gets cold sores (though she didn't have an outbreak right then.) They were fine with the handwashing but were still kissing the baby on the head by the end of the visit. I didn't push it, of course, because it's not my baby and my sister was right there. When we were leaving, they asked if they could come visit me and the baby in the hospital. I said yes, but that they would not be kissing the baby unlike this visit. They said they misunderstood. 🤷
This isn't an unreasonable/unrealistic expectation, right?

  1. ElbieKay

    pomegranate / 3217 posts

    You are being totally reasonable.

  2. Kaohinani

    grapefruit / 4144 posts

    @crazydoglady: You are not being unreasonable and, as a new mother, it is within your rights to make this request. I made the same request when DS was born. At the time, my mom was sick with a cold and my DD was six years old (my little Petri dish of icky goodies from school!), my in-laws are older and were involved in so many social events (Church, garden club, senior group, art club, etc) which brought them in contact with so many people who may not have gotten proper vaccinations, and my husband was active duty in the military (another walking Petri dish! 😂)! I simply requested that everyone washed their hands (or used santitizer) to hold the new baby but I would prefer that no one kissed his face or hands. DH was allowed to kiss the top of DS's head, of course. My mother was the only one who took issue; however, since she was sick, she complied.

  3. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Kaohinani: I already have DS and can't remember what I did then! With all the whooping cough, etc. I can't help but feel like not kissing a baby is a good idea. I am going to have enough issue with DS only being allowed to kiss her feet...I really don't want to have to worry about others.

  4. Jennibenni

    persimmon / 1005 posts

    If your mom gets cold sores, even if she doesn’t have an active sore she is carrying those germs and can spread them to your baby. That virus can kill your baby. It sounds harsh but it’s true. That’s what I would say to my parents. It’s your job to protect your baby even if it’s at the expense of their feelings.

    I don’t think older people understand that illnesses adults can treat fairly easily can be deadly for infants.

  5. bhbee

    cantaloupe / 6013 posts

    Not unreasonable. You’d think it would be harder with our young kids but yeah it’s the adults sometimes ...
    My 3yo is ALL OVER the baby so if you have any tips on enforcing that one let me know
    Elementary starts tomorrow and I am going to get serious about hand washing and sanitizer!!

  6. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Jennibenni: Oh, yeah, I have no qualms about hurting feelings. Especially when I have stipulated a boundary (which I will remind them when baby girl gets here.) I was just curious if others thought this was unreasonable (and would help explain my parents' behavior, but I am resolved no matter what.

  7. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @bhbee: I will...and same to you! I am probably going to have to buy shares in hand sanitizer. While I am a believer that some germs are good and build immunity, the newborn stage is not the time for that.

  8. Jennibenni

    persimmon / 1005 posts

    @crazydoglady: I don’t think it’s unreasonable in our generation because we have so much more information available to us but at least in my experience the grand/greatgrandparents get miffed because if a baby died from these things when they were parents it might have been hard to pinpoint the cause or how they got sick.

  9. Kaohinani

    grapefruit / 4144 posts

    @crazydoglady: Yes! THIS: " While I am a believer that some germs are good and build immunity, the newborn stage is not the time for that. " ... All the way! 👏😉😀
    And THIS is all your parents (or anyone else who visits with your new bundle of joy) needs to know and respect. That and the fact that you are the mother and it is important to you. I'd think if they love you, they'd respect your authority as a parent.

  10. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Jennibenni: This is a good point.
    @Kaohinani: Absolutely. My parents don't have a bad bone in their body, it's just second nature for them to kiss a baby. I spent so much time loving on my precious nephew and feel like I didn't miss anything by refraining from kissing him.

  11. Foodnerd81

    wonderful cherry / 21504 posts

    @crazydoglady: I don’t think you are unreasonable, but i definitely thinknits easier to enforce this for late fall/ winter babies. Somehow I think people are more like to get it during cold season even though they can get and pass on a cold or other germs anytime. Hand washing of course should be a no brainer and even my old fashioned, clueless, dad remembers that most of the time.

    However, I give a little slack to people who forget about kissing babies. I am so mindful of this and still, when someone asks me to hold their baby my first instinct is to kiss the top of their head. I don’t do it! But I admit I instinctively want to. So frequent reminders may be necessary.

  12. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Foodnerd81: Absolutely! I totally understand the desire to kiss a baby, but kissing a 6 month old is very different than a 6 day old. Once baby has had their 8 week shots, I will loosen up a little. I was going to remind everyone, "hey don't forget to wash your hands and remember that we are holding off on kissing baby for now."

  13. Pollywog

    persimmon / 1111 posts

    You have every right to feel that way and every right to change your mind. No one kissed my kids so it was never an issue for me.

    I was adamant that I didn't want visitors in the first 6 hours after my son's were born and was super worried about illness. When the day came that LO2 was born I seriously did not care that MIL was recovering from norovirus (I didn't know at the time, but knew she was exposed) and was there 3 hours after birth. What changed? MIL answered our panicked 2 am phone call after all of our sitters didn't, drove through her sickness to pick up LO1 from the hospital, and brought him home and put him to bed. It seemed cruel to send her home without letting her meet the baby (she washed her hands and didn't kiss the baby and didn't tell us how sick she was until weeks later. He didn't get sick). So if you feel entirely differently after birth that's okay too.

  14. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Pollywog: I'm really not a worry wart with illness but your example is why I want to have things (like hand washing and no kissing) in place because we can spread germs well before we are even aware we are sick and because people don't always disclose when they are sick.

  15. pachamama

    nectarine / 2407 posts

    Unreasonable or not, grandparents will be grandparents and kiss the baby 😖 It really bothers me too. My son were/will be born in the middle of the winter in NY and I've told my husband I don't want ANY visitors for a few weeks. My dad also refuses to get any tral or flu vaccines. We had quite a few visitors for DS#1 (preemie to boot) and it was enormously stressful... but I felt like I couldn't say no. Fuck that. Do what you have to do during those very early, very vulnerable first few weeks.

  16. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    Not unreasonable, maybe a little unrealistic though.

    Our ped just always said for little kids to kiss the top of the head and the toes, so I kind of think those are "safe" areas and no more likely to lead to illness than just carrying the baby around would while sick. Maybe you could ask your pediatrician about that. I get it, I was totally paranoid about flu season this past year with a newborn. And of course when baby was a month old my oldest brought home a nasty stomach bug from school, on top of the other nasty colds and flus going around, and then I overheard there was also measles..ugh. So much nasty stuff.

  17. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @pachamama: Awww...another boy? 💙 Congrats, mama! Yeah, you gotta do what you gotta do!
    @2littlepumpkins: I know what you mean and while I can't really protect the baby from my, my husband's and DS's germs completely, I just want to minimize risk. I think the thing that bothers me is that my mom gets cold sores.

  18. LCTBQE

    nectarine / 2461 posts

    @crazydoglady: I know not everyone thinks this is realistic, but IMO you can mama bear your baby and set whatever rules you want and I *do* think it's realistic to think you can enforce them if you're unafraid of hurting people's feelings. I will never forget my mom taking an 8-hour fucking bus ride followed by subway ride on the NYC MTA and then trying to hold my newborn without so much as washing her hands, then when I asked her to she rolled her eyes--my response was to yell at her and then make her wash her hands which I supervised because to her that's rinsing them in cold water for two seconds and wiping them on her jeans. I also made her change her clothes. she did it. sorry/not sorry, you can't be too careful with a newborn and the cold sores things gives me the shivers just to think about. do your thing.

  19. 2littlepumpkins

    grapefruit / 4455 posts

    @crazydoglady: @LCTBQE: what I mean by unrealistic is just that it can happen so fast, you might not see it and if you do, you might not be physically able to stop it. If they listen, great, but if not, you just might not be able to do anything about it. I'm not saying that's right, just that it could happen. That said, I'm all for trying. But I'm also someone who kept my older two on lockdown the first few weeks (winter break) to avoid stuff coming home with them. And yet one of the very few people I invited here brought a cold. And then the neighbors kids would run right up to the stroller and stick their hands in and touch her (belly usually!) before I even could fully react. I'd bring her in and change her clothes and blankets, lol. After doing the whole sick newborn in the hospital thing with my last I was crazy this time and I don't really regret it at all even if sometimes it was isolating. Cold and flu season this year was crazy.

  20. LCTBQE

    nectarine / 2461 posts

    @2littlepumpkins: oh my gosh, that's terrible that your newborn was sick and had to be hospitalized yeah it's a super good point that this stuff can happen before you have time to react in real life. with my son I just did a lockdown and basically didn't let anyone come to the hospital, come over to the house, or hold him for the first couple weeks, and then when close friends/family did come, I preemptively read them the riot act about germs and kissing and stuff--everyone definitely got it that I was serious, and I do think it helped. I'm sure most of them thought I was insane but I just do not GAF and will do it again.

  21. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @LCTBQE: Ugh...that would skeeve me out, too. I really don't think it's being an irrational "helicopter" parent. I mean, their immune systems have NEVER had to work before, why would I put it to the test unnecessarily? I flat out told my parents they can only come to see the baby if they agree not to kiss her...they got the message, but I will be reminding them for sure.

  22. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @2littlepumpkins: I see what you are saying. I mean, I told my parents that they shouldn't kiss my nephew and (by the end of the visit) that's exactly what they were doing. I am so sorry you went through that...I can't imagine how terrifying it must have been.

  23. periwinklebee

    grapefruit / 4449 posts

    MIL and DH had a huge fight in the hospital when DH laid down the rules and MIL wasn't happy about it. It sucked, but was necessary. I'm very non-confrontational and find it unpleasant sometimes to assert myself, but really try to be better about it for the sake of LO, who needs me to speak up for him..

  24. LBee

    pomegranate / 3895 posts

    @2littlepumpkins: This.

    Also, for everyone saying they did everything right and they think it made a difference, if only things were that simple. As a parent who had a child who got sick, no one kissed my baby at the hospital (my parents aren't kissers and didn't cross my son's mind) - she still got meningitis.
    The thing is, you are usually most contagious before you have symptoms. If it makes you feel better for your parents not to kiss your baby, that's fine, but don't think that not kissing him/her is going to insulate them from germs. We washed hands, we did everything (if not more) that we did with our son - she still got sick. It's life - just random chance / bad luck. I don’t think you are being irrational, but assuming your parents aren’t kissing baby on lips, I wouldn’t take issue.... and this is after having experienced a pretty horrible situation.

  25. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @LBee: I'm sorry that happened and am so happy she got better. I am definitely not looking to insulate as there is no way to do that outside of utero, but minimize risk in whatever way I can (especially the very early newborn days and before she has her first full round of vaccinations.) But I understand that I can't protect her from everything and can only do my part as her parent.

  26. Mrsbells

    squash / 13199 posts

    @crazydoglady: not unreasonable at all. Especially for the one who usually gets cold sores. I can't understand people wanting to kiss a Newborns on the face, or hands if it isn't your baby!! Have you tried sending them news articles about the dangers

  27. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @Mrsbells: I haven't but it really isn't my parents not respecting boundaries, they just aren't thinking. Does that make sense? They are in grandparent land and aren't trying to undermine. I am going to remind them of no kissing and hand washing. I am pretty sure they will comply because they saw how serious I was at the hospital with my sister.

  28. ChiCalGoBee

    nectarine / 2028 posts

    Not to be the voice of dissent, but my parents flew across the country to be there for the birth of my daughter 6 weeks ago, and if I told them they weren’t allowed to snuggle their brand new granddaughter, they’d be pretty hurt. Granted they’re pretty vigilant about health and wouldn’t go near her if they were sick, but planting a kiss on the top of her head seemed totally reasonable to me. It’s clearly your call, but I’d have a hard time telling my family not to love on my new baby.

  29. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @ChiCalGoBee: Perhaps you weren't speaking specifically to my situation, but I spent three days with my newborn nephew, loved on him a TON, and didn't kiss him once. I didnt say dont "snuggle" or don't "love on" the baby, but to not kiss. I don't think this is unreasonable when one of these people habitually gets cold sores.

  30. theotherstark

    pomegranate / 3045 posts

    I guess I’m a bit of the odd one out, but, particularly as I just had my second child, this wouldn’t bother me at all. A kiss on top of the head from a doting grandparent? I don’t think cold sores spread from the scalp, but I’m not sure on that since I’m not a physician. I’d actually be more worried about my older kiddo bringing all sorts of germs home, than grandparents, who tend to know things like hand washing, etc, and aren’t exposed to lots of other germs via children, children’s toys, etc. But that is just me! My older son got some kind of stomach bug when my younger baby was only a month or two old, and thankfully he didn’t get it, but I couldn’t really keep them separate at all! I’m of the opinion that there’s only so much you can do, and kisses like that don’t really bother me, but, again, that’s just me Can’t believe you’re due so soon!!

  31. ChiCalGoBee

    nectarine / 2028 posts

    @crazydoglady: Your original post asked if you were being unreasonable, and you just said to me above you don’t think you’re being unreasonable, so I’m guessing you were looking for support rather than an answer? I support you setting whatever guidelines you’d like for your baby and your situation, but I personally think asking my parents not to give kisses to their new grandchild isn’t something I’m comfortable doing, especially when they travel from out of town to be there just for this event. I think we’ll have to agree to disagree

  32. kiddosc

    grapefruit / 4278 posts

    @ChiCalGoBee: I'm with you. I don't think top of the head kisses are unreasonable. Snuggling and breathing on the baby are just as likely to get them sick as kissing their heads. By all means, wash hands and stay away if you're sick or have been around sick people... but I think this request isn't likely to give more protection. In the end, your baby, your rules however.

  33. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @ChiCalGoBee: I was initially wondering if it was unreasonable/unrealistic and did some more research and feel confident in my decision. I would have updated the OP to reflect that, but it's too late. Also, my parents live in town so that is a nonfactor for me.

  34. alphagam84

    persimmon / 1084 posts

    Not unreasonable at all! I just had a baby 9 days ago and asked the doctors in the hospital about this. She said if anyone has an actual active cold sore or rash they should not come visit the baby at all. If no cold sores or rash they can visit but absolutely no kissing.

  35. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    @alphagam84: That's what I was thinking...and this isn't a permanent measure by any means! My mom has just never been "great" about her cold sores. I remember her kissing my toddler nephew when she had an active cold sore. I don't want to say "only my mom can't kiss the baby" so I was just going to make it a blanket statement.

  36. crazydoglady

    nectarine / 2431 posts

    Thanks to everyone who weighed in. I was initially unsure if this was an unrealistic and/or unreasonable request, but did a bit more research and feel confident in my decision (which is why I am closing this-- I don't want to waste anyone's time.) I am going to verify with my pediatrician when we are in the hospital of course. I absolutely agree that there is no way to 100% protect our children and that the beauty of being a parent is that we get to make the rules.

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