A new baby is a beacon for attention. Strangers can’t help but peek at your little pride and joy, commenting on how cute they are and asking prying questions. For new moms, the added attention can be daunting.
I can still remember taking my first-born baby for her inaugural stroll through the park. When one stranger reached into my stroller and stroked my baby’s head, I cringed, but then retracted. I didn’t like that someone I didn’t know was touching my baby without my permission, but I thought that maybe I was just being a neurotic first-time mom.
While our interaction with the handsy stranger left me feeling uncomfortable, the impact soon passed. Unfortunately for some parents, the same scenario could have had far more damaging effects.
Recently, an image of a “No Touching” sign dangling from the handle of a car seat has gone viral on social media. The sign reads, “NO TOUCHING. Your germs are too BIG for me,” sparking debate between parents.
The stroller and car seat tags were designed by Johanna Ackerman, who started Tags4Totsin hopes of protecting her nephew who was born with a heart defect. If he were to get sick, his life would have been put in jeopardy, so she created a solution to keep strangers from spreading unwanted germs.
Later, Johanna’s niece, who was born premature, contracted a cold, causing an infection in her tiny body. This inspired the set of tags designed specifically to keep hands off preemies.
After years of selling a product designed to keep preemies safe, the creator of the tags gave birth to a baby born 10 weeks early. She continues to create signs in hopes of protecting children from unwanted illnesses, this time from a personal perspective.
While some agree that it’s a necessary diversionary approach to pawing passersby, others think it’s just a money grab for germaphobes. Comments such as, “Children need germs, their bodies need it to fight off sickness,” are sprinkled in amongst complimentary posts on the company’s Facebook feed.
In response, a reply from Tags4Tots reads: “You will probably see a lot people saying how kids "need" germs and I just wanted to say that our signs protect premature babies and babies who are (immunocompromised). But, we also give peace of mind to those with newborns and babies. These help from UNWANTED contact germs from well-intended strangers. Unfortunately, we don't know what could be on the hands of someone. The most common germs found on the hands of people randomly tested included e-coli, norovirus and MRSA (staph).”
With the cold and flu season in full swing, new babies are at a high health risk, as they are too young for immunizations. For those babies with health concerns, passed germs can have a life-threatening impact.
For healthy children, germs aren’t all bad, but there’s a big difference between bouncing your baby between familiar family and friends, and having them stroked by strangers. Look, don’t touch, and perhaps the signage would no longer be necessary.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor and marketing consultant. Find her online at @bitsofbee.