October 26, 2009,
N.S. asks from Monroe, MI on October 22, 2009
How to Tell Someone About Hygene
I was wondering if anyone could help me with something. I have a 2 month old boy and we have a friend that has bad hygene she doesnt shower regularly. she holds the baby regularly how do you politley tell someone they need to shower without being rude for the babys sake!!
K.M. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
I think the suggestion to have her wash her hands first explaining that you are worried about the illnesses that are going around right now and the health of the baby. I also agree there a people that have medical problems that showering or bathing just won't help. I also sent you a private response that might help.
L.H. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
I think beyond asking her to wash her hands when holding your baby, you need to overlook everything else. Bad hygiene won't hurt your baby and it's really not your place to tell her to shower more.
Unless you're willing to lose a friend over this, don't say anything.
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K.S. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
It depends on why she doesn't shower regularly, does she have super dry skin, are her clothes dirty or does she have a oder from foods she eats or she works out everyday, or does she have bad breath? You can jokingly say did you just workout? you smell like you did. or tactfully tell her her breath is bad because people can have very serious gastrointestinal problems with bad breath even if they brush their teeth, or she could have an excess of hormones that will have her have bad body oder. You can be her friend and be concerned about her as well as your child. The basic wash your hands is easy everyone is OK with that. Good luck
C.B. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
You need to be aware that some people have hidden disabilities that might be reason the don't shower regularly. I have mobility issues which makes it very very difficult to manage taking a shower. Thus it's very infrequent that I do it. I'm not happy about it, but I'm not happy about my disabilities interfering with my life either.
There is no way to tell a person gently that their hygiene needs attention. If she was aware of it but felt helpless, then you could suggest baby wipes to 'bathe' that way. My cousin supplied me with a tub of them when I visited her knowing I had mobility isses. And there are chlorine free wipes at Better Health or Whole Foods for a healthier choice.
A.H. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
Is it just showering or is she outright dirty? You may want to just pick your battles. I know of some that do not shower daily and they are not stinking or gross... She could just suffer oily hair or have a medical issue. Did she tell you upfront that she is not showering or is it obvious?
With the current economy, there could also be some issues there causing the situation that you are not aware of. She may be trying to conserve (or afford) and not really aware of the issue either.
By the way... no matter how many times a person showers, etc... clothing can hold odors, too - even freshly washed clothing.
J.L. answers from Detroit on October 23, 2009
I think it is common for parents to ask others to wash their hands before holding the baby, so I would definetely ask that. As far as other hygiene issues, they are probably not offensive to your baby and are likely not harmful either. If the clothes seem very dirty, just make sure the baby is covered in a blanket and wash the blanket after they leave.
I agree it is a touchy subject, but if she is a close friend that you regularly see, I would just bring it up casually and ask if she switched deordorants or soap. I have been told before I smell, and then I make sure to pack extra!
B.B. answers from Salt Lake City on October 22, 2009
very carefully. Being told that you smell bad or look dirty would be very embarrasing and possibly offensive. Also--there may be underlying conditions. For instance, people suffering depression have a hard time maintaining good hygeine. Tred lightly, and be sensitive.
J.R. answers from Saginaw on October 23, 2009
Wow. I don't think there is a "polite" way to tell anyone they smell without losing a friend! Instead, maybe you could give her some body washes, telling her that someone gave them to you and your skin is very sensitive, or you could say you're passing it on to her because she's a sweet friend, etc...
Most people can't resist good smelling soaps. Maybe she'll get inspired to shower. If she doesn't, plug your nose and keep your friend!
P.K. answers from Detroit on October 26, 2009
I wouldn't tell her she needs to shower. There's really no polite way to do it, and I doubt your baby is as sensitive as you are to body odor. I also don't think your baby is going to "catch" anything from her just because she has body odor. I WOULD ask her to wash her hands immediately before touching the baby, and explain that your pediatrician recommends that anyone who handles the baby should wash their hands so as not to spread germs.