11 Jan
Ewww! Keep Your Germy Toddlers Away From My Newborn

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

I am days away from having my first child. My husband and I are planning to follow the recommended vaccine schedule. My sister-in-law, who lives nearby, truly believes that the devil works through pediatricians and other health specialists (and many, many other people).

She’s already expressed how excited her toddlers are about our new baby and how they can’t wait to kiss and love on her when she arrives. This makes me nervous because she’s the sort to deny that her child is ill even at times when she clearly is. What’s a tactful way of letting her know the lovey dovey-ness won’t be happening any time soon, or really not until my own kid gets to catch up on vaccines?


The Not Nutty Family Member


Dear Not Nutty,

First of all, congratulations on your impending delivery! Just remember to remain calm, take deep breaths and demand more drugs than Keith Richards snorted in the 70’s and you’ll be A-OK.

That is, until your sister-in-law comes a knockin’.

Because not to put too fine a point on it, but someone who thinks pediatricians are handmaidens of The Devil is probably just days away from being cast on her own TLC reality program—Insanity Roadshow or something like that. (Which I’d of course watch every week without fail.)

Now, she can do whatever she wants with her own children’s healthcare. If she doesn’t go to the doctor or vaccinate her kids, that’s well within her right. (However, and I know this isn’t going to win me any friends, when more and more babies are dying of whooping cough and a big, scary medical study is shown to be a fraud, maybe it’s time to rethink that decision.) (Another great, thoughtful article about that topic here.)

All that controversy aside, your main role as a mother is to keep your baby safe from harm, and that’s exactly why you should tell Nutsy you don’t want her germy toddlers around until the little one has built up her immune system. Let her know that if she expects you to respect her anti-vaccination decision, you expect her to accept your pro-vaccination decision. It’s as simple and clear cut as that.

Will she get upset? Yes, I suppose she will. But it sounds like she probably gets upset about a lot of things (like the demonic forces at work in the Walgreen’s pharmacy), so just hug your little newborn to your chest and try not to worry about it.

At least, not until she starts talking about you on her new TLC show.

Good luck (and congratulations)!

Wendi, TMH

30 Responses to “Ewww! Keep Your Germy Toddlers Away From My Newborn”


Comment by Alexandra.

Guess what? I agree with The Mouthy Housewife. Your SIL can do whatever the frickandfrack she wants to with her kids…but YOU ARE THE MOTHER of YOUR baby.

Reapeat after me, you’ll have to pull this mantra out of your pocket more than once in your new role..YOU ARE THE MOTHER. You take care of your baby because it is YOUR baby and what??? Yes. YOU ARE THE MOTHER.


Comment by MominTx.

Wendi I’m sorry but all of your referenced articles pretty much sucked. My kid has had all of his vaccines but I have had HUGE reservations about it. I just don’t know if the benefits outweigh the risks (for example, my son had a HORRIBLE reaction to the MMR) and to just follow like sheep isn’t something I feel comfortable doing. None of the articles you listed made me think vaccinations are NOT harmful to my child. Ugh… I hate this topic it makes me feel like I can’t do the right thing either way.

As for the germy toddlers keep them away. Your newborn doesn’t need to get sick and neither do you. I like to keep germy toddlers away too! Nobody wants a sick child!

Wendi Reply:

I’m sorry you didn’t like the articles. It’s a tough subject and therefore it’s VERY hard to find anything on it that’s objective. I chose those articles–from Newsweek, Time & the NYTimes–because I thought they acknowledged the confusion of parents and illustrated the results on our public health of not getting vaccinations. If you know of any articles that are more helpful, I’d love to see them.

Bean Reply:

I lived in a third-world country. I watched what happens when kids don’t get their vaccinations. People die miserable, painful deaths. In my world, a some bad reactions more than outweighs lots of deaths.

Becky K Reply:

Bean gets it. We don’t remember a world before vaccinations because we didn’t live in it. With any medication, or natural remedies for that matter, there will be a certain amount of the population that will have a reaction. The bottom line is that the benefits to society out weigh the risks to the individual. It is called herd immunity and it is keeping the people who are not able to be vaccinated (immune deficiency issues, infants, egg allergy problems, etc.) safe from certain illnesses.
If you don’t want your baby exposed to your In-laws toddlers then you should not expose your child. I would agree 100% with this action. In fact, I have told this to one of my family members who won’t vaccinate her children. I told her that she was endangering my child because she made that decision for her children. Too bad if she is offended. I am offended by her actions a well.

Nilzed Reply:

Nothing outweighs the benefit of not dying. Those diseases killed children. Lots of children. Also blinded them and broke their reproductive systems or respiratory systems or nerve systems. Yes a few children have bad reactions to the vaccines but not nearly as many as died or had less negative reactions to these illnesses. the autism thing has never stood up statistically and the centuries of death records which stopped within a few years of mandatory vac requirements do.


Comment by Sally.

I had to deal with a similar situation when my daughter was an infant. I had a close neighbor who didn’t vaccinate her children. Her reasons for doing so had me questioning my choices. I did my research via a Pediatric ICU physician. He told me that in every case he’d seen or read about, bad reactions to vaccines were always due to a compromised immune system.
Also, I read last week that the connections between vaccines and autism have been disproved.
Stick to your guns, do what’s right for your baby. Avoid the germy toddlers for now. Make excuses, no matter how obviously lame. Maybe she’ll get the hint.


Comment by Desperate Dietwives.

Leaving aside the pros and cons of vaccination, which aren’t the issue, I totally agree with Wendi’s advice: it is all about respect. You respect her decision not to vaccinate her kids, she respects yours of vaccinating yours, and of keeping sick kids away from her. Period.

Only, tell her all of this RIGHT NOW, don’t wait till the baby is born. SET THE RULES NOW, perhaps beginning by saying that you feel uneasy about it and yet you have to tell her.

She might be upset; explain serenely that if yuur child becomes ill because of contagion from hers, YOU will be EVEN MORE upset.

If she is not willing to respect other people’s decisions about raising their kids, she cannot expect the same treatment towards her.

Wendi Reply:

Yes, tell her before the baby comes. Excellent advice.


Comment by Halala Mama.

I think with vaccines you need to first be overly honest with your pediatrician – is the baby snotty? has he had a fever in the last two weeks? Overload them with information. THEN? Hold your breath and get them their shots. I was a bit relieved to see that the biggest vaccine / autism study had big errors and that the other experts really believe it is a genetic component that they have yet to discover.

That being said, at least the first few months, the baby has your antibodies. Hose the toddlers down when they come in and then do your best to keep them away, but rely on nature to offer some protection too.


Comment by Lynn MacDonald.

I think it’s reasonable to keep other peoples toddlers away from your baby regardless of the vaccines. Toddlers are notoriously germy so why actually let them that close.

Ps…your sister on law sounds like a nut job…she would hate me anyways.


Comment by Becky.

I do agree with Wendi. It is your baby and as the parent, you set the rules where she is concerned. Having said that, keep in mind that the only way to build up an immune system is to be exposed, somewhat. After my dgt was born, we took her out with us to the grocery, to eat, etc. I’m not saying to let the baby get deliberately sick, but you can’t keep her in a bubble, either.


Comment by Minivan Mama.

Honesty is always the best policy. Tell her no and tell her why.


Comment by Justthe10.

Actually, the non vaccinated child isn’t a carrier of any of the diseases like a vaccinated child is, so she should be worried about you bringing your baby near her kids for the first few weeks after you get yours shots. But that’s not the point is it?

Babies have mothers immunity for the first few weeks, some say months, depending on breastfeeding and strength of mothers immunities given. It does a down slide of mothers, and starts to work on a up swing of their own at about the 6 month mark.

IMO, as long as the kids are not snotty or coughing, let them kiss the baby toes, but no carrying around or the like for a while.

Nilzed Reply:

Actually the non vaccinated child can be infected for a while and capable of infecting others for a period before showing symptoms as well as before the symptoms are recognized as more than ‘just’ a sniffley fever or run of the mill cold. It’s called the incubation period.

Vaccinated children are carrying antibodies, not the infection itself and cannot pass the disease on to others.

Justthe10 Reply:

Vaccinated children that catch the disease they are vaccinated against ALSO carry it without symptoms in an “incubation period” as well, IF they are sick with it.

Vaccinated children, upon getting the shot, are newly infected and their body is carrying the disease, just as an “incubated period” of any child that comes down with anything.

Vaccinations do not always prevent you from getting whatever you were vaxed for, they are intended to stimulate a response, so when you are exposed again, your body recognizes it and fights it.

So vaccinated kids have an “incubation period” when they get the shot, and also again when they are exposed and might be fighting the infection, with out visible signs.

Not stating which side of the coin is right, just stating that the unvaccinated child is in more danger of catching something from the vaxed one, than the other way around.

Becky K Reply:

this response would make sense if most vaccinations had full strength live viruses in them and that just is not true. Most are either inactivated, or attenuated so that they produce the immune response without producing the actual disease. The small pox virus is the one you have to be careful of during the healing phase but even then it is not the actual small pox virus that is used, it is the vaccinia virus which is another pox virus.

Justthe10 Reply:

And the flu, and rubella if you are pregnant, and chicken pox… Small pox isn’t the only one that is like that.


Comment by Kim.

I’m with Wendi on this. We all know someone like your SIL who is that special brand of crazy, and it sucks to have to manage their crazy on top of, say, the arrival of your child and all of that chaos.

I agree you should be upfront. You can also blame it on the winter season — so many bugs going around right now, etc — or even on your pediatrician’s recommendation. But don’t feel bad about it. She’ll get over it soon enough. Good luck!


Comment by GrandeMocha.

I took my son to day care 3 days a week when he was 1 year old. He was home sick about a week a month. I figured he’d get exposed to every bateria/virus/germ before kindergarten started & he would never have a sick day. He misses two days a year now. I probably just jinxed us.


Comment by Lisa.

“In California, five infants have died from whooping cough this year. ”

This is not about colds or sniffles or runny noses. This is not about bad reactions. This is about life and death. REAL life and death. Not all those things that merely feel like life & death decisions to new parents.

No matter what, I would not let non-vaccinated children in my house until my child is fully vaccinated.


Comment by Not Nutty.

Thanks for the feedback–it and the comments are helpful and definitely bolster my decision to not expose my newborn to her cousins right away. Now to talk with that SIL…

Nilzed Reply:

There is a reason for all the boiling and washing and disinfection of nursery items in old child care manuals in the 20s to 50s. There is a reason why infants weren’t taken out and about to the degree we do these days (besides the sheer weight of changes of clothing glass bottles and no handicap ramps which allow moms with strollers to easily access buildings) They knew about how disease spread and that infants were easy targets. Preimmunization era they could only fight it with bleach, boiling water and isolation.


Comment by MommyTime.

Not to be rude to Lisa, but it’s not really possible not to let unvaccinated kids into your house until yours are fully vaccinated, unless you are going to screen all of your children’s friends for vaccines until they are six years old, which is pretty much when the regular vaccine schedule finishes.

On the other hand, IMHO, there’s no reason to let ANY non-sibling toddler touch a newborn any place but the sock-covered feet. My ground rules, for whatever they’re worth, is that everyone washes before touching baby, and healthy kids only get to touch baby from the knees down. My own kids follow those rules with other people’s babies, unless the other people offer alternative rules of their own. Snotty kids, on the other hand, don’t get to do any touching–or even close breathing–at all.


Comment by RealMommyChron.

I agree! You definitely have a right to not have sick people or people who have not been vaccinated around your newborn! Yes, newborns have great breast milk antibodies, but they can still get sick.

And I was told by the hospital that if a baby less than 8 weeks old gets sick, they do a spinal tap. Point blank. You have the right to try to prevent that from happening to your baby!

Also, you actually CAN prevent your newborn from being around kids whose parents choose not to vaccinate. I guarantee any parent hard-line enough not to vaccinate will gladly tell you straight up if you ask them before they bring their kids into your home.

Good luck to you, new (non-nutty) mommy!!!

Momof4Luds Reply:

RealMommy is exactly right – one of my (exclusively breast-fed) babies started running a fever at 4 weeks old. We were in the hospital for a week, with an IV in his head because his veins were too small to get one in his arm or leg. And yes, they did a spinal tap. They wouldn’t let me come in while they were doing it because the parents get too upset. BTW they never figured out what it was.

Justthe10 Reply:

That’s interesting! I have never heard of that. I had one that was born with pneumonia from aspirating the waters. They did IV antibiotics and never mentioned doing anything else, other than O2, that is.


Comment by I'm a big ol' b with a captial B!.

Loved all the comments but the original one hit the nail on the head.

YOU ARE MOMMY and Mommy RULES. Who cares what anyone else thinks? It doesn’t matter. You do what you feel is right for your kids. Period. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


Comment by Average Jane.

Being the mother of a germy preschooler as well as a new baby, I would have to agree with the other mothers and say keep other kids (preschool-highschool) away. It is just as important for YOU to be ready as it is for the baby to be ready before other kids are allowed to socialize with your infant. It’s hard enough being a first time mom without having a sick baby! When a child approaches my new baby I just sweetly say, “Please don’t touch the baby, she’s still very little.” And sometimes, “Please don’t touch the baby” works just as well. I would say that touching the socked feet of the baby was okay, if it weren’t for the fact that those feet/socks are going to be in the baby’s mouth too before you know it. A smile actually goes a really long way with children when a new baby is concerned. It’s all about the delivery of the message. Kids will listen to you–without giving their opinions on vaccinations or social graces. Other mothers understand… unless they are total bitches…in which case, who needs ’em? Oh, and I don’t think I would pre-warn anybody about keeping their nasty-ass kids away before the baby is even born. It may make YOU seem like the nutty family member instead.

Sarah Reply:

How long do you keep germy kids away from your baby? We have a six week old now going into the winter. Please do share!

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