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Social Distancing Dilemma: How to Deal With Strangers Touching Your Babies

Social Distancing Dilemma: How to Deal With Strangers Touching Your Babies

Twin babies in stroller with title of blog post: Social Distancing Dilemma: How to Deal With Strangers Touching Your Babies

A MoM recently asked: I would like to know how other twin mommas handle strangers touching your babies in public. I don’t want them to get sick, especially since they were preemies. What is the nicest way to tell someone to back off? 

This question is more relevant than ever these days.  Not only do we have to deal with seasonal illnesses like cold and flu, but we are going on year three of a global pandemic that has turned our world upside down. Many of us are more diligent than ever when it comes to our personal hygiene and keeping our distance from others.  Masks, vaccines, lockdowns, social distancing – those words have been drilled into our heads lately. It’s just plain hard to make decisions about where to go and what to do.  Parents with new babies have had to make some tough choices lately.  Do they keep their infants cooped up inside, or do they risk venturing out and about?  Do they still have to be concerned about strangers touching babies in public these days?

Our MoM’s question is so important to consider for all parents at all times, Covid-19 pandemic aside.  It can be tough to keep strangers from touching your babies. Parents of multiples, in particular, might have some extra complications to endure during times of heightened illness.  For instance, we get a lot of attention when we’re out and about.  It’s very difficult to keep a low profile when you’re lugging two little ones around. With that, many of us have had some extra inquisitive spectators who have gotten a little too close at times. That can be really scary when illnesses are running rampant through communities and parents aren’t always able to keep their infants at home.

How can parents keep their distance from curious outsiders when they are concerned about their babies catching Covid-19 or any other illness?  We have collected some helpful words of advice from loyal Twiniversity fans, many of whom are experienced twin parents. We have also highlighted a few tips from pediatric medical professionals.

Woman pushing two children outdoors in a double stroller. She is looking down and smiling at the children.

Here’s What Twiniversity Fans Had to Say:

  • I try to form a barrier between me and my stroller/carriers to keep strangers from touching my babies.
  • For me personally I don’t feel you owe any stranger an explanation. Just simply and politely say please don’t touch them. I don’t understand why people think it’s ok to just randomly go up to a mom of multiples and touch them.
  • We would just throw hand sanitizer at people like we were in a parade! Here, have some! There were people that we offended that would try to touch the boys and we didn’t care because really when they have been preemies, it can be very serious. We did take the time to explain to people why we didn’t want them to touch their hands or their face. Some people never understand until they have been in our situation.
  • I’d say “we’re just getting over a stomach virus!” or something to kind of freak them out. A lot of people are just well wishers and curious and don’t realize that they can be a bit too intrusive or even spread harmful germs.
  • The NICU gave us signs for the car seats/stroller when we were discharged. I found them just off putting enough to discourage people from touching, but not off putting enough to be rude.
Red sign, shaped like an octagon with white text.  It is created to hang on a stroller, and reads "Please wash your hands before touching mine" with two handprints on the bottom.
  • I always thought it was very kind of strangers making a connection. When people have touched my twins’ hands I just sanitize their hands when they leave. When strangers admired my twins it made me feel connected with another adult for a few minutes in those very long and isolating days. I didn’t worry about a “stranger’s hands” vs. the things my singleton brought home from school, or all the germs that are everywhere – shopping cart, steering wheel, money, can foods, etc. I also figured that exposing them to germs will help build their immune system. This logic helped me from over analyzing all the worst case scenarios.
  • I try to stand in a way between my boys and the stranger that would make it awkward if they tried to touch them. They would have to reach around my whole body to get to them. I try not to come to a complete stop when someone speaks. I might slow down a little to accept the compliment or whatever but I just keep moving so there’s not really a chance for people to approach us.
  • I’d say “no, don’t do that!” or block them with my hand. I regularly have this problem. It’s not okay to put your hands on an adult without permission, and it’s not okay to touch a child without permission either.
  • When my boys were tiny, I used to put myself between the stranger and them if they were intrigued and asking questions. As we got better at the stares and questions, we would keep our heads down and keep moving. I found that if you don’t make eye contact many will not come and ask questions or touch.
  • I try not to make eye contact, pretend I didn’t hear the person, and keep moving. I’m also prepared to physically prevent someone from touching them by batting their hand away or blocking. You don’t owe anybody anything just because you have twins.
  • I have canopy covers and leave them closed in public. If someone looks like they are sick or even coughs or sneezes I turn around and go the other way. I don’t act inviting to strangers that ask questions or act like they are interested in them and they usually don’t stick around.
  • I have found that when I wear my twins people are less likely to try to touch them . Still occasionally happens but it’s easier to back up and evade them when not in a stroller. If babywearing is an option for you, I’d strongly recommend it!
  • I have thought of printing a t-shirt for myself saying “Please don’t touch my babies at all!” My husband is really good at dodging strangers, he just ignores them, and walk past before they can even think of touching them.
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  • I’m just one of those people that say don’t touch them or I walk away completely.
  • You don’t owe a stranger anything, just say “Please keep your hands to yourself.” If you need to, stick your hand out and say “No, please don’t.” They will probably give you a dirty look but oh well.
  • I think people just love babies in general and are also fascinated by twins/multiples. We would have people send their children over as well and say “go see the babies”. I would redirect them back to their parents and tell well wishers they could look but not touch. It really doesn’t matter if someone is offended. Anyone with children should simply understand.
  • I’ve told some that my twins have the sniffles and I don’t want to get YOU sick by touching them.
  • If I see a stranger approaching I just keep the stroller moving back and forth – it’s tough to touch a moving target!
  • Don’t worry about their feelings, just tell them straight up don’t touch!
  • A woman in the supermarket wanted to hold one of ours. I said, “No he bites.” Which is partially true!
  • I used a rain fly on my jogger, and blankets on top of the car seats on my double tandem.
  • Babies can make a mom very protective especially if there are any health/safety concerns. If people don’t listen to you, you could always say that their doctor recommended limited exposure to others due to health concerns, especially during flu season.
strangers taking pictures

What do Medical Professionals Recommend?

Several medical organizations, including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas, Mayo Clinic Health System, and Nemours Kids Health, have published articles detailing ways to keep babies safe from illness while in public.  Here are some of the general takeaways from this valuable insight:

  • The medical experts agree that it is best to keep infants physically distanced from others. We can’t always tell if people have taken proper health and safety precautions.  When that is impossible (those grocery pickup slots fill up fast!), try to limit your time in public as much as you can.  
  • If you’re pushing a stroller or handling carriers, you have the power to keep your babies socially distanced.  Diligently keep your babies at least 6 feet away from other people.
  • Keep each baby carrier covered with a blanket. Be sure to keep your eyes on the carriers at all times to make sure the blankets don’t move.  Not only should that help protect babies from germs, but it will hopefully give strangers an indication that the babies are off limits.

Of course, we would hope that strangers would have the common sense to stay away from babies during a global pandemic. Sometimes, those twinnies are just too irresistible for some people. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways for parents to keep strangers from touching their babies while they’re out in public.  Be attentive, be protective, and don’t be afraid to tell people “no!”

Social Distancing Dilemma: How to Deal With Strangers Touching Your Babies
Written by Leanne Hudak, Twiniversity Staff Writer

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