Babies need respect, too

1 Oct
I have sometimes struggled with what to do when people ask, "Can I hold the baby?"  While I love sharing the joy of cuddling a little person, sometimes I know Jade isn’t going to stand for it.  Like when she’s tired, for example.  She might give you a huge endearing grin when you say hello, but hand her over to you and she will howl.  One day I was at a friend’s house and someone there said, "Come here Jade!" and held out her hands.  I knew Jade was tired, but didn’t know how to say no.  Jade got picked up and immediately started crying.  I took her back and she stopped.  Fifteen minutes later, the same person wanted her back, and guess what?  She got a repeat peformance.  At least one other person also grabbed her without really asking permission, with the same results.
This is pretty traumatizing for both me and Jade, and I recently decided that I just needed to be a stronger advocate for my baby’s needs.  I came to this conclusion because I have noticed that she gets along best with people who let her take the time to get used to them.  Rachelle, for example, spent at least half an hour talking to Jade and playing with her on the floor before she even tried to touch Jade.  When she did pick Jade up, the baby was happy to be in her arms.
So now I try to tell people, "Let her get used to you first."  They still get to hold the baby, but everyone will be much happier if things just move a litte slower.  I also take the time to introduce Jade to the people she meets.  I know an 8-month-old who has started signing (by that I mean he’s using sign language), so it’s obvious that at this age, babies are already aware and understanding a lot of what we say.
When you really think about it, this just makes so much sense.  Even though they can’t talk to us, babies are little people with the many of the same needs we have, including respect.  How would you feel if someone you had literally just met grabbed you and kissed you and tickled your tummy?  Wouldn’t you feel just a little violated and disturbed?
When I finally started thinking about her this way, I realized how important it was for me to be Jade’s voice.  After all, I think most adults can deal with the small disappointment of having to postpone their cuddle with an irresistable little person, but how can Jade understand why I would just thrust her at some stranger?  In not too long, I’ll be telling her not to speak to strangers, so shouldn’t I start by not giving her away to them?

2 Responses to “Babies need respect, too”

  1. Nemmy October 2, 2006 at 5:56 am #

    This is exactly why I\’ve always had a horror of asking to hold a baby. I prefer to let the mother offer – though sometimes this backfires because the mother thinks I don\’t WANT to hold the baby. LOL. So – there\’s a hint for you when you visit. *wink*

  2. Lindsay October 2, 2006 at 7:47 am #

    It\’s funny that a lot of people don\’t understand when you say "She\’s a little shy" or "Give her a chance to get used to you."  Some people think you are being overprotective but it\’s true just like we need to be introduced to people and get to know them before we show affection so do babies. This can be hard for family members. Alex used to cry when her Uncle Jon picked her up. She just wasn\’t sure but since they have had more time together she runs up to him.

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