When I brought my preemie home 20 years ago, I had almost no idea what I was doing.
What I did know was that my son, born 5 weeks early after a harrowing pregnancy, was small, underweight and fragile. I knew he needed my vigilance and good care.
Unfortunately, so many of my friends and family members did not share my particular concerns. I was criticized for wanting to keep my baby away from crowds. Eyes rolled when I asked people to wash their hands before they touched him. I was cautioned that my failure to adequately “socialize” my infant would be harmful in the long run.
Yet when my son contracted a virus at 4 weeks old and spent 3 long weeks in the hospital, these same individuals were nowhere to be found. They were not there to hold him when he cried all night long. They did not watch my son undergo invasive and painful procedures. They did not know the terror of a sick baby slow to respond to medical treatment.
And I learned. I was young and inexperienced. But I learned I was the only one who could truly protect my son.
Now, 20 years later, I see these amazing signs that new parents can hang from strollers and car seats cautioning people not to touch the baby. There are even onesies proclaiming it’s hands-off during cold and flu season.
Of course there are naysayers; individuals who claim these signs are “rude” and “off-putting.” They’ll tell you infants need exposure to germs to “build their resistance.”
But I know from first-hand experience the most well-intentioned friends and family members can jeopardize your baby’s health.
How I wish I’d had these wonderful signs to help me set boundaries when I was still finding my voice as a new parent.
They may have spared this mom and her son a lot of unnecessary suffering.