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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

E-mail Cheryl Bac

About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Please Stand Back

Uploaded: Oct 4, 2014
In September, we were thrilled to welcome a little girl into our family. Transitioning from a family of three to a family of four is quite an experience. We are still figuring out how juggle a newborn and a toddler in the comforts of our own home, let alone out in public.

Most places we go, we get stopped by at least one stranger. Newborn babies draw people in like magnets. I enjoy telling them how many days/weeks old our daughter is and hearing congratulations. And most of the time these quick adult interactions are quite welcomed after a day spent inside with little ones. I'm so grateful when they hold a door open for us or just give me an understanding smile.

Only once did this interaction leave me uneasy. While at our daughter's doctor appointment, we were approached by a teenager. I'm sure his intentions were good, but he repeatedly tried to get way too close to me and my newborn - asking to hold her, touch her and even feed her. I felt so uncomfortable that I ended up leaving the waiting room. When I returned, I saw the same teenager approach our son (who was being watched by my husband) and another brand new baby.

For those readers with older children, when/how did you teach your children how to behave around newborns and babies? With all the nasty colds and viruses going around, it's important for them to stand back. Please let the new parent bring the baby to them (not the other way around). And if they get too excited (which is understandable...newborns are cute!), please step in. New parents have a lot to juggle already, please don't allow the situation to escalate such that they must also juggle your child.
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Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Oct 5, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter and becoming a family with a matched pair. If nothing else, it now stops all the questions about "well it must be time for another".

I found that our oldest 3 were very matter of fact when they saw a baby somewhere (other than home). They had seen a baby before and knew how to behave. Our youngest always finds a baby a novelty and the first time he saw one being breastfed he couldn't get over it. However, he never crowded the baby, just asked me questions in a loud voice which were sometimes very funny.

I never experienced anything like you mention with the teen in the waiting room. I wonder where his parent was as generally speaking they have to be accompanied by a parent who has to wait while they see the doctor. I would imagine that this is quite rare from a child. I should also think it is quite alright to say that the baby is too young to be able to fight germs well so it is best that people don't come too close as we don't want her to get sick.

When I see a new baby in a family I know with an older sibling, after making the requisite comments about baby, I always ask the sibling a question non related to the baby, "that's a great shirt, where did you get it?" "I think you look taller since I last saw you, have you been working out?" to make them feel just as valuable.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thank you! I agree, it's definitely very important to give the older siblings lots of attention. When visitors come, we almost always ask them to first play with our son while I rest and/or tend to the baby. Our son loves the extra attention and I love getting a break. When presents arrive in the mail, it's extremely sweet when a big brother present is included with the gift to our baby girl.

I was very surprised by the encounter at the doctor's office as well. I don't remember anything like this happening when I took our son out of the house as a newborn. The mother didn't intervene for quite some time (and she just asked her child to sit I assume she didn't see/hear what happened or also didn't understand why I wouldn't allow a stranger to touch my newborn). When the teen tried to get too close I made it very clear that this was not ok...but he seemed too excited to listen. Luckily, we haven't experienced anything like this since.

Posted by observer, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:53 am

I think the teenager was mentally disabled and was coming from a pure place.
The mother was probably tired out from constant intervening.
My pet peeve is when total strangers want to touch a baby - on the face, the hands.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Observer - Thank you for reading and commenting. I also don't think the teenager had bad intentions. I hope the mom was just having a hard day and would normally intervene much earlier. What are your strategies for asking strangers not to touch baby on the face or hands?

Posted by Palo Alto Mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm

That's what I like about the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. There is a separate area for newborns away from the other kids.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 9, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Palo Alto Mom - What a smart idea! I'm sure a lot of parents appreciate the separation, especially during cold and flu season.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:59 am

@Cheryl - Congratulations to your whole family! I like Mom of 4's suggestion of telling people that the baby is too young to be able to fight germs, so people shouldn't come too close.

What worked for me when my kids were little was telling people (it was especially other kids) what they COULD do. I told them that the baby really liked when you smiled at her (or waved, make faces, etc). I remember being at the doctors and having a toddler dance for my daughter, even though she was too little to appreciate it!

Enjoy your newborn!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:29 am

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

palo alto mom - Thank you! I bet the toddler had a wonderful time dancing for your newborn. I'll need to remember that trick. What a clever idea!

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