Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
How Can I Get People to Stop Touching My Kid?
Q. I am the mother of a beautiful five-month-old girl (my first child). While I appreciate smiles and comments about her, I don't like it when strangers touch her. She is constantly poked and pinched, and it drives me bonkers. How do I nicely ask people to stop?
A. Babies are hard to resist. Their bobbleheads, enormous eyes, and chubby bodies prompt an instinctive response from adults: We want to coo and smile and touch them, forgetting that babies have the same right to privacy as anyone else.
As a parent, you speak for your child until she can voice her own opinion. Remind folks to respect her boundaries with this gesture: Shift the child you're carrying to the hip that's farthest away from a would-be admirer. Then gently say, "It's so sad that we can't pass babies around like plush toys, because they're certainly as irresistible as teddy bears." If that doesn't work, say, "Excuse me," and walk away purposefully, as if you're headed for an urgent diaper change.