By Doula Jen
You hear it all the time: When we were kids, we rode bikes without helmets. We played kick the can and simply moved our game with each approaching car. We didn’t always wear seat belts. We ate red M&Ms. We explored. We ran. We slept with blankets in our cribs.
Times have changed. Some recommendations—such as seat belts and bike helmets—come from evidence-based research. We know things now that we didn’t know a few years back. That’s growth—wonderful and expected.
The flip side, of course, is that we can become sick with worry—finding it difficult to distinguish between an appropriate safety product and a company’s desire to make a buck. And although knowledge and growth are powerful, essential bi-products of basic living, fear-based thinking and overprotective safety measures tend to inhibit the natural flow of life itself.
When a family asks about baby-proofing, we encourage them to do so in a way that still allows them to have fun and relax. A crawling baby who makes a B-line for the basement stairs 50 times a day? Absolutely, get a gate. Bringing the play pen into the back yard so that Baby can get fresh air and sunshine without getting hurt? That is over the top and would be depriving both you and your child of joyful exploration.
Then there’s hand sanitizer. We could talk about those ubiquitous clear bottles for days. It is said to eliminate instances of stomach virus; but then, it might not be effective against cold and flu. You’ve probably heard that it can kill good bacteria and—in that sense—it could be making us more sick. And what about the alcohol and other ingredients? Bad for baby? OK once dry? Harmless in small amounts? Mama, no wonder you’re worried.
We can’t tell you whether or not to use hand sanitizer. I myself use it occasionally, when the situation truly calls and there is not a clean place to wash my hands with soap and water. We’re talking about the doctor’s office or the petting zoo. Times when something is better than nothing. I do also think it’s extremely handy by the changing table when you’re literally touching waste but also soothing and dressing baby (perhaps handling the pacifier as well).
See, I’m not anti-saftey device or anti-sanitizer, but I am anti-sleepless mom. All of your Welcome Baby Care doulas would encourage you to do your research and then do what makes sense for your particular home. And then we also want to encourage you to lighten up, take that grain of salt, think with that superstar-amazing-powerful-wise mommy gut.
Our modern, Western tendency is to err on the side of device-hungry germaphobe. For years babies have dropped their binkies, kissed their cats, made mud pies, taken risks, and bumped their heads. Heck. When I was a babe, following my mom through the garden, I popped a slug into my mouth. A slug! These things happen and families live and learn and tell the story at Thanksgiving (over and over and over). And so on.
Keep your baby safe, but also try to keep your head on straight. Relax—as best you can—and enjoy this lovely little bundle of new life.