22 answers

How Do I Nicely Tell People They Cannot Hold My Baby?

I feel that babies are little people and it seems weird to me that everyone thinks it is okay to pass around a baby from lap to lap. My baby does not enjoy it and usually gets irritated with going back and forth.
Whenever we see my husband's family I get hassled for not taking her out of the carrier (ergo or mei tai). I keep her in there because if I don't I will get hounded to pass her to everyone else. I want her to be able to be free as she is 4 months and wants to explore. How can I nicely say to others that I would rather them not hold her? Touchy subject huh...

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I would just ask them nicely to please not pick her up. Tell them that it disrupts her schedule as she is upset all night after a visit. If that doesn't work then just stop the visits all together for awhile. They will get the message.

Just nicely say that she doesn't like to be held much. If they don't like it, that's tough. My second son really didn't, even by me. If I wasn't feeding him, he didn't want to be held long. So I just told people that. He actually had me worried because he had such an aversion to being held, but he's fine and even pretty affectionate now (he's 7). You are right, they are little people, and some like their space and freedom as much as we do.

More Answers

I think that you shouldn't have to disregard your own feelings to accommodate other people's feelings. You are the mother, and you don't have to explain to other people why you feel the way you do. That being said, I also know how difficult it can be to stand up or say something awkward to friends and family. Perhaps you can use the "flu season" as a source of concern. Also, a friend of mine once gave me great advice...she told me that our babies don't have a voice to express when someone is in their personal space and that we, as moms, have to provide that voice. Think about it...we would never pass around an adult and get in their face...so why should we tolerate someone being disrespectful to our little ones and getting all up in their space. I say...whatever works for you,,,do! Another tip might be that if it's your husband's family/friends that he be the one to speak up and vice versa. Best of luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,
I was irked by a previous post that said that babies in orphanages die from staying in their cribs. Just HOW is that applicable to your story? Rest assured, nothing will happen to your sweet babe if you keep him from being passed around. You WILL, however, keep your child from getting up close and personal with someone with a cold or flu.

Babies going from lap to lap is not usually fun for the baby and you should be allowed to make that call. When I am around friends with little babies I say, "If you need a break from holding the lil' one, I am here to hold him/her". It totally takes the pressure off the parents. I never passed my little ones around and they are better for it.

Oh, and commenting on that previous post. Babies were born to be held.....which you are already doing.
Good for you for acting in the best interest of your baby.

1 mom found this helpful

You are so lucky to have a little baby. You may never get it yourself, but many people (especially women whose children are older) get baby fever! It's such a pure and wonderful feeling to hold a baby!!
So you can't blame everyone for wanting to hold her

That being said...

You are her mom and it's up to you. It totally depends on your personality how you want to actually say it, but I think honesty is the best policy. Don't tell people she is sick if she isn't, or make up any other reason. You can say, "I know I'm a kooky first time mom, but I hope you can respect my wishes that I don't want her to be passed around/held by a bunch of people." ..... Or you can let the first person pick her up and when she fusses, say, "As you can see, she really isn't the type of baby who likes to be passed around/picked up. She's content in her carrier (or whatever) so let's go ahead and put her back in it."

1 mom found this helpful

Hi L.,

Yes it is a touchy subject - especially since you are talking about your husbands' family. Some people, no, A LOT of people wont understand (in my experience) but I completely do. If your in-laws are like mine, this is how it would play out if you were to simply say, "No, I think she would be happier not being held." They would swoop in, claiming, "Nonsense! She LOVES to be held by Grandma/Aunt/Cousin..." So, when I got to this same point with my in-laws, there had to be a showdown, so to speak. When I got my daughter out, they swarmed. I told them, firmly, that I believe she would rather not be held, but that we would like to visit. When my MIL tried to ignore me and reach for my daughter anyway, to stepped in the way and said again, "No, I think she would be happier not being held." I added with it a serious look. My MIL looked at me as if she had never really seen me before, but I noticed that it worked and when she stepped down, the other females followed her lead. And I'm going to be honest - I didn't want my baby passed around because there are some smokers in the family and it was (and is now) flu season. No thank you. So, my reasoning wasn't as "nice" as yours. But after that one clash where I stood my ground, my MIL would try the pout thing from time to time, but when she sees I'm not affected by it, she stops. There was a time that I stopped going to her home because she kept pushing the issue. Now she knows that if she wants to see her grandchild, she will follow my rules. Sometimes when I say this to people, they say I sound a bit Witchy... But this is my daughter, I remind them. And when my MIL was a mother of young children she was just as demanding. Heck, as a mother of completely grown children, she is as demanding... :) So, my ultimate answer is stand your ground, let your child out of the carrier and run interference until they know you are serious. And, if they can't follow your rules, don't go back, at least for a while.

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

It's funny how people are so different! I always "shared" my babies because I remember how much joy it gave me to hold other people's babies. If they cried, I quickly took them back.

However, you are well within your rights not to pass your baby around, (especially during this cold/flu season). Love that you use slings! I think your best bet is to keep doing what you are doing. If you take her out of the sling, you are bound to get requests and I don't think there is any "nice way" to tell people they can't hold your baby. They are just going to have to be irked at you for withholding her (in fact someone did that to me in my younger years and I was really taken aback-- I still remember it vividly.)

You may want to consider at least letting your family try to hold her and give her an opportunity to get to know them. To me, it's kind of mean not to let them enjoy this little member of their family, and it's a disservice to your daughter not to teach her that she can trust other adults besides Mommy and Daddy. Just my two cents, because in the end YOU are the Mommy.

I would just ask them nicely to please not pick her up. Tell them that it disrupts her schedule as she is upset all night after a visit. If that doesn't work then just stop the visits all together for awhile. They will get the message.

Hi. My kids hated being passed around. I kept them in a sling (over the shoulder baby holder) and that was that. I said, "she is happy here. That's where she wants to be." Period. Done. Didn't care that they commented about not passing her around. My baby was happy and so was I.

Well, tough question. Babies were born to be held! Orphans who stay in their cribs can actually die. I love going to family gatherings because I know there will be lots of people to help hold my son (4 months). If he gets irritated, then they get the idea. It's amazing how nobody really wants to hold a CRYING baby. :) Then he can just kick on the floor on a blankie.

So, I guess I'm really all for babies going lap to lap. It's good for babies and the family. And toddlers don't allow you to hold them much, so enjoy it while you can.

Best policy is always honesty. I know the family wants to hold the baby; but the baby doesn't agree. Perhaps a gentle confession that you are a new mother, time to nurse, or even, let me take a picture of you and the baby before she starts to cry...
And if they are offended, then, well, that's their issue. People need to understand the bond between mother and child and respect that you are not totally at ease with baby-passing/holding. They also need to understand that, in time, the child will open up to the relatives who intrigue her/him the most and will eventually bond with them.
Keep your chin up and just trust your instincts, let nothing offend you or your family.
Good luck, and congrats on your new baby!

PS not to mention the germs!!!

You are the mother. You can do as you please. Just tell everyone she is feeling a little under the weather. Or if you break down with the guilt that they'll heave on you, tell them to wash their hands first. No need to feel pressure or guilt. Good luck.

Be possessive. "Okay she needs to hurse now" Keep her in a sling where no one can see or touch.

L., I know how you are feeling. I went through this and my sister, who had her first baby 5 months ago, also went through this as well. The thing with family and strangers alike is that they see this little person and they feel the need to hold this little person, not realizing that mama doesn't necessarily want her little baby passed around like a bowl of chips. I, too, have resorted to keeping my baby locked in the carrier in hopes that it would detract anyone from wanting to hold my baby but at some point, you will have to pick your baby up and the way I see it, why deprive yourself from holding YOUR baby just because you don't want others to hold her. Right? Kindly, you tell the person or group of people that you're just not comfortable passing your baby around to everyone just yet...blame it on flu season...you don't want her getting sick. You do not need to explain yourself or go into some long speech. Will you be criticized? Probably behind your back. Will you be teased? Not to your face. Trust me, L., I've been where you are and you feel uncomfortable letting people down, especially when it's family, but you are not obligated to let everyone hold your baby. You can blame it on a multitude of reasons: your baby is quiet at the moment and you'd like her to stay quiet; you can say your baby only likes to be held by you at the moment and with anyone else the baby will cry; plan on breastfeeding and that is a sure-fire excuse to hold onto your baby..."No, sorry, I really need to nurse the baby"....and even if the baby falls asleep on the breast, nobody will bother you because they will assume the baby is still nursing. You do NOT owe family anything. They will have to be patient with you until you are ready to let others hold your baby. And, it's really important that your husband back you up on this matter and even more important that he support how you feel by helping out with the explanations, especially since it's his family.

Hi L.!

Just remember one thing....she is "your baby" and you need to keep her safe and away from all the nasty virus's that are out there today. Just simply say you'd rather not subject her to that right now. It's human nature to want to hold a baby and some people just simply can not help themselves but if your not comfortable people should respect your wishes:) Take Care!

I would just honestly tell people that she doesn't like being passed around or she's uncomfortable with people she doesn't know well. My daughter hated to be passed around and I honestly didn't like handing her over either! But, my son has a different temperament and this time around I didn't mind as much. I always took both kids back as soon as they fussed. Don't feel guilty for not wanting to play Pass the Baby. You'll feel much worse watching your baby be miserable in someone else's arms. I don't think that because there are babies in orphanages who need to be held or people unable to have their own babies that it means your baby should have to suffer for it.

I know what you mean. I am very sensitive to other's feelings, including babies (especially my daughter when she was one). You can easily see how they get progressively more upset and unsettled. I don't have an easy answer for you. sorry. Just letting you know that other people feel like you, even though so many others are clueless. Maybe you can tell them honestly that you have observed how your daughter gets uncomfortable being passed around! I know, offer that the adult lay on the ground next to baby and interact with her while she explores!

HI L.,

I felt very comfortable telling people that I didn't want my little one to get overwhelmed....so no. I got labeled as a kook and an overprotective mom but everyone of those people (mostly close family) now respect me and my wishes and there was no long term repercussions from it.....As long as your husband and you agree on these things, don't sweat it!

God bless!


Just nicely say that she doesn't like to be held much. If they don't like it, that's tough. My second son really didn't, even by me. If I wasn't feeding him, he didn't want to be held long. So I just told people that. He actually had me worried because he had such an aversion to being held, but he's fine and even pretty affectionate now (he's 7). You are right, they are little people, and some like their space and freedom as much as we do.

I totally understand your feelings. I felt the same way about my babies. You know your baby best, but sometimes babies are just responding to the mother's feelings. Maybe if she knows you don't want her passed around, she too will adopt the same feelings and fuss when whe is held.

That being said, I hate when people pass babies around in a large group of people. There's really no easy way to handle it. Maybe you can ask them to use sanitizer and a mask before holding her, especially if there is someone that is around schools or other large groups of people a lot. If someone is or has been sick, sorry but they need to stay the heck away.

It is normal for family members to hold the babies born into their family. Grandmothers wait for years to be able to adore their grandbabies. As much as you love your daughter, you will also love your grandchild, and want to hold that baby. Imagine if you are denied that when your daughter gives you a grandbaby. I am NOT judging, because I used to be the same way. Maybe you can just make a rule that she not be "passed around". Just one or two hold her during the visit, and when she shows irritation, you take her back. It is a disservice to leave babies in their carriers for a long time. They need stimulation/interaction/socialization. She is at an age where she is soaking in a lot and beginning to shape her personality. She needs to become familiar with the rest of her family.

I don't think it's wrong to let her just be free and explore without being held. I also don't think it's right to deny family the right to hold their precious baby family member. There SHOULD be limits that are set to give your daughter the respect she deserves. Holding a baby, espcially a relative, is one of the purest gifts in life. I can't stand when people just won't leave babies alone. It's not respectful for people to just hog and bother babies. Let them know you are going to take her out of her carrier, but she doesn't like to be smothered.

Good luck!!

It never really bothered me....now that my oldest is 5, I wish I could still hold him and I wish my family were still around to take him sometime... :) If you don't want people to hold her just say so.

yay! for babywearing!
have you found your local babywearing group?
you'll find lots of answers there, LOL!

ok so I love the answer about calling yourself a kooky mom...just laugh at yourself and make light of it, you're the mama. hold that baby!
pass the baby if you want or don't...just ENJOY!!!

L., this is your husband's family... not a bunch of strangers. Maybe you need to look at why you feel so strongly about not sharing your baby with the family. How often are you with them that you won't let them enjoy her as well. The only way they have to bond with her is to be given that opportunity. I remember when I had my first and we would go to family gatherings once a month. I missed my little man but I also wanted to give others the joy of his time as well. They are all so close now and bonding is important to everyone in the family. I really think you need to reconsider not letting them get close to her.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.