Would you buy a tag that told people not to touch your baby?

Photo: tags4tots
Photo: tags4tots 

Parents are being warned not to let people touch or kiss their babies, a number of newborn deaths and hospitalisations from illnesses transmitted by close contact with well-meaning family and friends.

It adds another uncomfortable layer to an already intense and emotional time, with parents worried about causing offence while wanting to protect their child.

But would you go as far as to buy a sign to ward off potential cuddlers?

When my 4-week-old contracted viral meningitis from his affectionate older brother in 2013, during an outbreak in Sydney that took the lives of several toddlers, I realised how close I came to losing my newborn, and the importance of preventing others from from touching or kissing newborns.

It's an issue US dad Jeff Gober highlighted recently, after his newborn Mallory died from complications of the Herpes Simplex virus, most probably from hand-to-mouth transmission.

"She was constantly sucking on her fingers, so it's almost certain that the virus got onto her hands at some point," Jeff posted on Facebook at the time, in a post that has now been deleted or made private.

The risk is even higher for babies born prematurely, with heart defects or other illnesses, which was the springboard for tags4tots, a US company that makes tags for parents to buy, to fend off unwanted kisses and cuddles.


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Founder Johanna Ackerman started the business when her nephew was born with heart defects. Little did she know she would go on to have son Harrison, 10 weeks premature, and twin girls Everly and Emma, born at 34 weeks and requiring a stint in the NICU. In addition, Harrison aged just 2, was diagnosed with Leukaemia in July, which he is presently getting treatment for.


The signs remove the social awkwardness of telling people not to touch babies, with Johanna illustrating this point in an Instagram post.

"Everyone wants to pinch their cubby little cheeks and legs. Twins seem to draw even more attention," she wrote. "I'm a soft spoken person and don't want to have to tell people not to touch them... I let the signs do it for me!

Choosing to use signs to convey the message is a low-conflict way of protecting babies but they don't have to be fancy ones. The signs could also be handmade then laminated.

It's also important that children understand the message, even if they can't read yet. An adult reading a printed sign to them will ensure the message will have more impact than a conversation.


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