Sunday, 29 December 2013

Keep your germy hands off my baby please!

Don't touch button - Keep your germy hands off my baby please. How to protect your baby from cold and flu.
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‘Tis the season to be coughing again! Everyone’s at it, sneezing and wiping snotty noses, you can almost see germs dividing and mutating in the air.

It’s one of my least favourite times in the year normally and much less so since I’ve had a baby. My immunity is not too bad, fortunately and I don’t tend to get ill often. Which is perhaps why I see it as a competition to keep my child snot-free for as long as possible.

Turns out it’s easier to protect me, a grown woman than a real cutie like my daughter.
Strangers don’t come up to me in the street to grab my cheek for no apparent reason. They don’t sneak up on me at the supermarket to hold my hand and coo. Yes, that would be weird. But then, why is it socially acceptable to do it to a strange child?

And why is it considered normal in the UK to d coo over me. . take part in social activities when ill? I understand skipping work for a cold may not be an option because of money. But surely dragging a sick child to a local playgroup isn't justified?

I know, it’s a cultural thing. In the UK, the governing principle is the so called ‘Hygiene Hypothesis.’ It’s the theory that the rise of allergies and autoimmune diseases in the 20th century was caused by our growing resistance to common germs. In line with the hygiene hypothesis, the more colds and common bugs our kids pick up, the better for them in the long run.

I can certainly see the logic in that and by no means do I want to cover my baby in bubble wrap and isolate her from the world. It is true that exposure to viruses improves babies’ immunity. Every time your body fights an infection, it creates antibodies which will help fight that infection again, if it should ever attack in the future. But that doesn’t mean that exposing children to illness deliberately is a good idea. For starters, what is ‘just a cold’ for a grown up, can turn into a serious illness to a young child. Ever heard of Bronchiolitis, anyone?

Having an ill child also sucks from a practical point of view. I don’t want to spend all of January sleepless and worrying about a sickly baby. And I certainly don’t want to then catch whatever she had and be ill myself for another month.

I appreciate my baby will pick up her fair share of germs whether I wash her hands every hour or not. I’m not going to stop her from ever licking the pebbles in our garden. But I can stop strangers stuffing their ‘who-knows-where-that’s-been’ hands in her face. Or sneezing directly at her without covering their mouths.

I will kindly request you to keep your germy hands to yourself.

I don’t know if there is a way of communicating that to people without appearing like a complete OCD psycho. If there are any English ladies reading, please – I would welcome your suggestions!

In the meantime, I’ll be buying one of those cute badges to proudly display on Ava’s hat. 

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