When I was pregnant, I had a few strangers touch my belly unexpectedly. I dealt with each situation during pregnancy gracefully (in my opinion); however, I was completely unprepared to deal with strangers touching my daughter.
Yes. My daughter is beautiful.
Yes. She has lovely chubby cheeks.
No. You shouldn’t touch her without permission.
I’d never think to touch another woman’s child without permission yet on several occasions it’s happened to me.
- I was shopping in Target and an older woman rubbed my daughter’s hand.
- While I was in The Netherlands at a park, a woman picked my daughter up and raised her in the air playfully and kissed her.
- As my family and I sat at a restaurant enjoying a meal, a woman rubbed her hand across my child’s cheek.
None of the touchings were inappropriate per se but isn’t all touching that occurs without permission inappropriate?
I’m most surprised that the women who do it find it acceptable.
I have seen some pretty darn cute children in my life yet I’ve never reached out my hands to touch them without getting permission from their parents.
As a new mom, I understand I may be overprotective, fearful of germs, and obsessed with personal boundaries, so I reached out to the mom community and here is what some of them have to say about strangers touching their children.
Moms Share How They Really Feel About Strangers Touching Their Children
I almost exclusively wore my first, so people didn’t really have the opportunity to touch her, lol. Same for when my second was born. Now they are 2 and 11 months old…both in the “stranger danger” phase. The 2-year-old is extremely vocal and will say “no” and the little one will just start crying. Usually, my antenna goes up as soon as anyone approaches the cart. I’ve had sweet senior citizens oohing and ahing over the girls but I’ve also had the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Always listen to your gut!
Annie | pancakesandsnuggles.com
My daughter gets sick easily but she is also a very social person and likes to interact.
I use to cringe every time someone touched my daughter but now I don’t mind as long as they are not creepy about it.
She enjoys interacting and so I let her interact with people. – she just turned 2.
Marie | culturewedding.ca
It always bugged me a lot when my kids were little. My kids are now school-aged, so I make a point to teach them not to touch anyone, especially babies, without permission. It’s an overall lesson about personal space. You shouldn’t touch anyone without permission, even those who can’t yet speak for themselves.
Louise | chaoticallyyours.com
My kids are mixed and people ALWAYS try to touch their hair. I hate it and my kids don’t like it either. I’ve caught people trying to touch my daughter’s hair without asking and they say it’s cause it’s so pretty and they want to know how it feels. I tell them neither of my kids like people touching their hair so don’t do it. Their curiosity doesn’t give them the right to touch my kids.
Christina | Raisingbiracialbabies.com
I wore all my children as babies so that kept them from being passed around!
But now that they’re older, there are definitely people that give me bad vibes that I don’t like touching my kids. I just try to shuffle us away.
Samantha | evidence-basedmommy.com
I really don’t like people reaching out and touching my children, even with the sweetest, most innocent intentions. I don’t understand the need to touch a stranger’s baby. But for some reason I feel like putting up that boundary would be rude of me, when actually, the unsolicited physical contact with my baby is the rude part. It’s a mindset that I need to shift.
Klara | herhappyheart.com
This happens a lot to us as expats overseas. Especially my older kid’s blond hair and blue eyes — we stand out. Once, we were out sightseeing, and an indigenous woman came up to me, took my baby out of my carrier (I had dropped the front so the baby could wave hello), and walked out of the museum holding my baby. I just kept breathing, “it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” as I followed them. Outside, their entire family was hanging out in the park, and they were perfectly lovely, just really delighted by this gringa baby.
They handed me one of their babies, and we cuddled each others’ kids and snapped some photos, said goodbye, and went on our way — it turned out to be a lovely interaction. I try really hard to model respect and graciousness in these moments, because I want my kids to see that people who look different than us and who have different ideas about personal space (to put it mildly) aren’t scary or bad or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I have my cranky days when we just need our space, but one of our family values is “choose love”, and I kind of extend it here to give people the benefit of the doubt and to be neighborly about it. I don’t get it right all the time, but we try. 🙂
Elizabeth | simpletenderjoyful.com
I’m a transracial adoptive mom and I can’t even tell you how many people felt the need to touch my son’s hair when he was a baby. It was like white people saw him as their opportunity to touch a black person’s hair. Drove me absolutely insane!
Caitlin | realmomrecs.com
I really didn’t like when people touched my baby or my belly. Why do people feel it’s ok to touch a stranger? It’s crazy. I actually made up don’t touch cards. I have an article and a landing page.
This is just one of the many reasons why I babywear! On top of the benefits of keeping baby/toddler close, comforted, and safe, it keeps unwanted attention and “baby touchers” away. They’ll lean in for a peek, but that’s about it. And if you happen to be breastfeeding when they take their peek it’s even better. They may second guess overstepping their boundaries next time!
Jamie | Geekmamablog.com
I don’t like when strangers try to kiss on your child. We don’t know where your mouth been and it’s too many deaths surrounded around strangers kissing babies on the mouth
I don’t think much about people touching my belly because it is usually people I know or well-meaning acquaintances or a few strangers. I do not like when people touch my children because they are small, germs travel quickly from you or them and in today’s world, you have to be oh so careful.
Heather | withcoffeeandchaos.com/
I used to love it when people touched my belly. But I’m a very touchy person so it didn’t seem odd to me. And for my daughter, it really depends on the person who’s touching her. She’s always trying to give everyone hugs and high fives, and it doesn’t really phase me. It really just depends on the person who is touching her. If I get a sketchy vibe then it really bothers me. As for kissing, I hate it when other people kiss her, even if it’s on the top of her head, I just don’t like it.
McKayla | motivationformom.com
I remember being at a car boot selling stuff when my eldest daughter was only a few months old. This woman, a complete stranger, said “When I’ve finished me fag, can I have a hold?” Politely I said she couldn’t as she was (thankfully) sleeping, hubby’s response a little less when I told him, more of a WTF.
I had a grandma feed my kid off of her fork after she used it! That totally grossed me out!
I hate it, sometimes I will say something like “He doesn’t like it when people do that.” or I anticipate their move and move my child away quickly. Honestly, if I don’t know you and you touch my child you will probably know from the look on my face that I don’t like that (I just can’t hide it). The way I see it is that I have a responsibility to be my child’s voice when they can’t talk. When I think about it that way I have no problems in telling the person that I’d prefer if they didn’t just touch my baby without at least asking first.
It’s not so bad now that my kids are a bit older, but as babies, people would touch their faces and kiss their heads all the time. I tried to start with a passive-aggressive approach of turning around so they couldn’t reach but it got to the point where I would actually have to ask them not to touch. I eventually made a onesie that said: “no touching please!” It wasn’t as much of a problem after that.
Brianne | puddlesandpine.com
One of my kids was very huggy/ touchy when younger and didn’t mind people getting into their personal space. I kept close reins on that one and always held hands or carried them when out. When they were older, they sat in the shopping cart! My other 3 had a nice level of stranger danger that I could rely on. I think with some kids who, themselves, don’t care about personal space, it helps to be the barrier and person they can hug/ be right next to when out….at least until they intellectually understand the concept of personal space and can have an intelligent conversation about it.
My issue hasn’t been touching, it’s been candy! Random older people at the grocery store or restaurants try to give my daughter candy all the time. She has food allergies- nope she can’t have this it may kill her.
Haven’t had it happen yet. But I think it will be annoying. I don’t even like getting hugs from anyone except my mom and husband.
I literally handed my newborn to a stranger at Disney the other day, she jokingly asked if she could hold him, and since she was a mom and we were in line, I let her. She was overjoyed.
My kids have so few family members and no grandparents, so if someone wants to lovingly and appropriately touch them (with my children’s consent) I let them. My 4 yr old gets hugs all the time. The 2 yr old will maybe give a high five as she doesn’t like to be touched… Also, not worried about germs but I’ve studied them quite a bit. My kids eat off the floor, eat dirt, and touch everything they can (despite me yelling at them- public bathrooms are the worst!). Thankfully, they never get sick.
I haven’t had a lot of problems with people trying to touch my son, it’s actually the other way around! The doctor keeps telling me any time now he should start to develop some stranger anxiety (he’s 14 months old) but I have yet to see any sign at all! This kid will walk right up to anyone, offer them bites of his food, he has absolutely no sense of personal boundaries! ?? I don’t want strangers touching my son but I can’t stop him from touching them!!
Miranda | mirandasday.com
I haven’t had many women attempt to touch my child. However, I’ve noticed a rise in creepy old men. I have a beautiful child so much so that these creeps notice her and will come right up to her. I’m always very vigilant due to the increase in sex trafficking and child predators. Depending on the vibe I get I will physically place myself or the cart in between them and my child. I will also cut the conversation short and move on. You can never be too careful nowadays especially when child predators often act in pairs.
Mrs. G | kombuchandkale.com
What did I learn from all these mamas?
What can you learn from all these mamas?
Well, some moms hate it when strangers touch their children and other moms welcome the affectionate responses. There are moms who haven’t experienced this at all. Then there are the moms who have the children who bombard their way into the personal space of strangers.
As with most situations, it depends on the circumstances, our gut feelings about people, and it depends on the children.
The only way to know for sure if a touch is welcome is to get permission beforehand.
As for me, I’m one of the moms that would prefer you not touch my child without permission just because you feel like it.
**Please let me reiterate the touching I am speaking about it hand rubs, face rubs, cheek pinching, kissing on the face, picking the child up. I haven’t experienced a stranger trying to touch my child sexually or inappropriately – just affectionately – without permission or justification.
How about you? Do you welcome strangers touching your children (affectionately)?