Get Your Fat Hands Out of My Baby’s Mouth


Before I became a mother, I was certain that there had never been a woman so suited for motherhood as myself. I thought there would be a natural ebb and flow to the first year of parenting- and everything would come to me with ease. I imagined myself gallivanting around town with my child expertly wrapped around my torso. I just knew breastfeeding would suck all of the fat off of my hips and reveal the body that nature intended me to have.

Unfortunately, I failed at baby wearing. The Ergo I ended up with made me look like a linebacker, not a wrapped maternal queen. Breastfeeding did absolutely nothing for my metabolism, even though I was feeding the little fucker every three hours. And to top it all off, I had the general public to deal with.

Why didn’t anyone warn me about the general public?

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I didn’t know that people basically abandon all sense of social propriety when they see a newborn. Nobody told me. Nobody prepared me. I didn’t know newborns made people go batshit crazy. (On a side note, autocorrect does not like the term batshit crazy, but it thinks the phrase bats hit crazy makes perfect sense).

Lucien was born in November. As luck would have it, he came into the world a month before one of the worst blizzards we’d had in Brooklyn in years. It was freezing. And there was a ton of snow on the ground that Mayor Bloomberg refused to clean up. Seriously. He was vacationing in Bermuda, or something. Rich bastard. So basically, it was a new mommy nightmare. There was no way I was hitting the streets with the Baby Bjorn. I was too afraid that I would slip on black ice and crush my infant. Also, people are germ-filled disgusting messes in the winter. There was no way I was getting near a subway. So Lucien spent his first season on the planet a shut in. Sorry honey.

Being a shut in makes you pretty anti-social. Having a new baby makes you a paranoid schizophrenic. Add to that the incessant need that people seem to have to put their fingers in babies’ mouths- and you have a recipe for disaster.

Seriously, what is it with people when they A) put their fingers in your baby’s mouth, or B) put the entire hand of your newborn into their mouth? How can this possibly strike someone as being a good idea? Hey there little cutie, with a not yet fully developed immune system! I just got off the subway. The homeless guy that was sleeping against the handrail was kind enough to move so I could hold on. Yes, he did! Oh look how cute you are- reaching for my hand. Aww, he’s teething!

Why? Why would you ever do that?

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And then of course, there is social-event-that-you-finally-bring-your-baby-to scenario. Maria, relax. Let me hold the baby. You are probably exhausted! Grab a glass of wine. I’ll take him. Hi cutie! I could eat you up! I’m going to eat you up. Munch, munch, munch. Entire newborn hand in mouth. Great. I’m sure my three month old is immune to those recurring cold sores I see popping up on your lip every month. And it’s totally relaxing watching all of this unfold while I enjoy my glass of wine. This party is amazing. I should really get out more often.

Expectant moms- maybe you will succeed where I failed, and be the mother you always imagined you would be. But I’m warning you now- people are going to shove their dirty hands in your baby’s mouth. Fancy some strategy for handling that, and you will really be a maternal queen.

About the writer


Maria Guido is the Senior News Editor for Scary Mommy. Her writing has appeared on Time, The Washington Post, Mommyish, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @mariaguido and Facebook.


Terri with twins 7 months ago

The outlaws are so obnoxious…what is the obsession with hands and mouths… And I keep telling them visit after freakin visit. And how funny that I’m the bitch. Next time I’ll tell them to get their frickin hands out of my newborns mouth and will end up divorced…but so what at this point. Since having babies…everyone imposes themselves….I loved your post…made me laugh…since I otherwise want to vomit every time I am forced to weekly visit the loony outlaws …

Ann 9 months ago

I feel your pain! My baby is now 6 months old. Last month the inlaws came for a visit. Apparently it is ok and cute for my brother in law (who just got done with work and had not washed his hands) to stick his finger in my child’s mouth. I asked him to use a teething ring but since his mom thought it was ok then it is ok. He is 35 years old…
We all went camping that weekend and my mil was watching the baby while my hubby and I were setting up the campsite no more than a 100 yards away. She decided it was ok to give my child her bone dry nipple to suck on because he was crying. She did not come get me or call me. I just can’t get over it, and she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.

Life With Teens and Other Wild Things 1 year ago

Kind of makes me glad I don’t live in the city… I think I’d have gone bat-shit crazy too, if some random person came up and started touching my baby. Putting a baby’s hand in their mouth???? WTF?? Who DOES that? Especially to a baby you don’t even know!! Wth??

I would have NO problem what so ever telling someone “Please don’t touch”. If it were a harmless looking granny, I might add something in the way of explanation about immunocompromised, but really, it’s no one’s business if your baby has a medical condition.

Silvy 1 year ago

I totally agree with you some people are so stupid like seriously why the hell would you approach an infant with filthy hands or even put there hands in your mouth like WDF thats a big no no In my book I don’t care if I sound rude when I tell a person not to touch my baby especially if I don’t know you !!!

Olivia 2 years ago

You are insane. What a crazy control freak. Living as a shut in for fear of subway germs?? Give me a break.

carls 2 years ago

PS yes strangers try to hold my baby (see my last comment) one time i had her asleep in the stroller blanket over head and this women randomly comes up all in a few moments she takes blanket off and picks up my 1 month old!saying ” oh let me see that cutie” I YELLED at her boy was i pissed she did not ask she just did it boy was i pissed off she said ” it takes a village to raise a child and this child needs to get to know everyone that will be raising it so stop being rude” as i snached my baby she got all hissy at me. fucking bitch it takes a mom to raise a kid not an village

    Silvy 1 year ago

    Omg I would’ve kicked her ass!!! So not cool who the f**k does that ?!! Smh!

carls 2 years ago

I never stop to let people admire my baby talk to touch and hold i just keep going after being yelled at from a persob “hey i gotta see tghe baby” i just say no sorry and keep on going i got better things tondo im not stuck up i just wanna get things done. i am NOT scared of germs i am just busy. you myob and dont bother me or my child

Annetta 4 years ago

Oh, it’s worse with twins! People WILL NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE! And then once they’re done fondling them, they feel it’s perfectly acceptable to then accost you with questions of “were they natural or fertility?” “Did you deliver vaginally or C-Section? OH MY you gave birth to them both! WOW you sure didn’t let your husband near you after that!” (yes, I actually got that said to me!) “Isn’t it HARD with two?!?” “What are their names?” (only to be followed with a disappointed stare when I tell them and my girls’ names son’t rhyme or start with the same letter) The verbal assault is almost as bad as the physical germy awful touching of the babies!

Jamie 4 years ago

I didn’t even have to leave the hospital before this happened. The hospital photographer put her finger in my son’s mouth to calm him down. She was wearing gloves, but for all I know they were the same ones she used with the previous baby. You would think someone would teach hospital staff not to do this.

Mestink 4 years ago

I totally agree with you! I recently had my second baby, and the worst thing was taking her to her weight check at 2 weeks old. Sitting in the doctor’s office surrounded by elderly people hacking and coughing was just gross. Not to mention the one crazy lady who was making a huge stink at the receptionist’s office had to come over and get in my baby’s face. :/

Devon 4 years ago

A few of my friends and I had these small signs, called Kind Signs. It read,” Your germs are too big for me, please don’t touch”. I had one hanging on the stroller and one on the infant car seat. They worked great, as long as people read them. If anyone is interested in them, I can send you more information.

Mercy 4 years ago

Oh, I can’t imagine what I would have done if someone had stuck their fingers in my kid’s mouth! As it is, people here in India want to pinch cheeks and squeeze faces and that horrified me enough, especially when they looked so dirty. I can’t count the number of times I had to tell people to not touch my baby when they were small.
They still get the cheek-pinching now but they mostly just pull away or say no on their own.

Lu 4 years ago

Hahahaha! So true! Maybe we just need to put our kids in a big plastic bubble, like the bubble boy on Seinfeld. Haha! You would think that people would know better.

    Guerrilla Mom 4 years ago

    Do you know where I can get one of those? Haha!

Suzanne 4 years ago

Maybe it’s my crazy upbringing, but I was always taught you don’t touch other people’s babies unless asked, and even if the baby is butt ugly, you tell the mom how beautiful her baby is.

Kristen Brakeman 4 years ago

Very funny post!

I remember doing the full body block to strangers with my first baby – I’d practically knock them over trying to keep them from touching her hands.
By the time I got to my third kid it was like, “Hey subway transient, you mind holding this kid for a minute?”

Lynne 4 years ago

I def put out a don’t u dare touch my kid vibe. My son was a tow head with these beautiful blue eyes..he was a magnet. But people would approach and I would look at them like don’t even freakin think about it.. I am diminuitive..5’1″ 110lbs but I was a beast when it came to protecting my kids. People are freaking wacko with babies… u cannot hold my baby..yes I am a psycho new Mommy I don’t really care what u think about anything so stop talking to me..oh and I am one of the nicest people u will ever want to meet=)))))

Lacey G 4 years ago

Just recently we were at the WIC office. The did our appointment at the counter, so my boys played basically in the waiting room. These Hispanic ladies come in with a little girl, about the same age as my youngest (13 months). Next thing I know, they are HOLDING my baby. It had already been a long afternoon, my pregnant ass was tired and I figured so long as he wasn’t screaming. Whatever. But seriously would have been nice if they had ASKED.

Jennifer 4 years ago

I have to agree with the commenter above. We don’t do the hands in mouth thing. Now baby feet are a completely different story… with the touching. Not with the putting them in our mouth. At least not a stranger’s baby. That’s just weird.

When my daughter was about six weeks old I was at the mall with her and my husband. He was sitting with her in one of those areas out in the middle of the mall. This older lady just basically took her from him. I walked up and freaked. “Um, yeah… I’ll just take her back.” He got a HUGE piece of my mind after that.

Jenn 4 years ago

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much better as they get older. Instead of trying to eat your baby, they just criticize you for everything your kids do (or don’t do)…

    Guerrilla Mom 4 years ago

    Yes, I am already experiencing that. Mostly from my mother.

Tbs 4 years ago

Oh how you bring me back! My dd is 10 & I remember feeling the same way. I love the babies and purposely keep my hands in my pockets so I’m not tempted to share germs! The other thing no one told me about was daytime grocery shopping. Every old lady in the store needs a 20+ minute conversation & to tell you to not breast feed,to breast feed, feed ’em cereal at 1 wk, starve’em, constantly feed them, go to the park & stay home. A gallon of milk took an hour to buy!

Noey 4 years ago

My daughter is 13 now. But I STILL remember hating anyone who tried to shove their hands in her mouth or just grab her from me to hold her – without asking! What’s worse were these were my biomom’s friends and if I got upset she’d tell me to calm down and “get over it”. I became very very good at “accidentally” running over toes with strollers or offering the most horrible smelling hand sanitizer I could find before letting these old biddies near my baby. They all had cats, smoked, stunk of old lady perfume and one of them was the cleaning woman so who KNOWS where her hands had been!

At the grocery, I got very good at running over whole feet with carts. Or leaning over her so much that no one could comfortably get past my boobs to touch her. Ha!

And as much as I love babies, I remember how it felt to have people shoving themselves at my kid and satisfy myself with standing at least 2 feet away and just wiggling my fingers at the tiny cute people. (And usually get so may thanks for not actually touching them!) I stand at least 5 feet off and just say how cute they are if I’m sick!

June O’Hara 4 years ago

My sister has a huge Mastiff. When I’ve gone with her to walk him, people have stopped us every seventeen seconds with ooh’s, ahh’s, and the same questions. I want to make a poster board sign: His name is Bud. He weighs 225. 9 years old. No, I’ve never tried to ride him. No, he doesn’t eat that much.

Now leave us alone.

I promise I will never put my hand in an infants mouth. Not out of restraint, but a serious lack of desire.

Jen 4 years ago

I try to get strangers to touch my babies and have them put as many gross things in their mouths as they can so they can get sick and challenge that immune system and in turn making it stronger.

What? Seriously?! No.

Sick kids suck.

Johanna 4 years ago

My kids were NYC babies too and I’m convinced it’s the only place in the US where it’s acceptable for little old ladies to tell you off for a) taking your newborn outside without a hat or b) taking your newborn outside wearing too much clothing. “You’re going to suffocate her, dearie.”

Christina 4 years ago

Yes, this exactly. Followed by unsolicited crazy advice.

Arnebya 4 years ago

It is the babyness. People get crazy over all things baby. When you first tell people you’re pregnant you get the unwanted stories and advice. While you’re pregnant you get, well, unwanted stories and advice, but that’s when the touching starts (call me rude, but “I’ma need you to back the fuck up” started to be a common refrain from me). Once the baby is out, the unwanted stories, advice, and touching continue, except now it’s baby directed. I’ve never understood the baby hands in mouths but I did tell one lady “Oh, darn, is that the hand she got poop all over when I just changed her? I’m out of wipes.”

    Mercy 4 years ago

    Hahah, good one! Bet that lady backed off quick.

    Evalynn Rose 4 years ago

    Hahaha… I’m so using that.

Michelle 4 years ago

LOL! Thanks for making me laugh today. You have NO idea how badly I needed it!

LeighP 4 years ago

I love this article! While those days are a distant memory for me as well it reminded me of an incident when my son was about 3 months old. Husband’s cousin’s wife after petting and playing with our dog seemingly waiting until I left the baby in an adjacent room with my husband. I returned to find her sticking her unwashed finger in his mouth as she proceeded to tell me how she used to soothe her teenager when she was an infant with this neat finger knuckle trick. I was mortified. Who in the hell sticks any appendage in the mouth of any child not belonging to THEM? I think I grabbed my baby before anyone could blink and left the room as I was so speechless I didn’t even have a coherent thought to utter as to what I was doing. Grace be damned! That’s just gross. What the hell people? Needless to say she never held my infant son again. I’m still grossed out just thinking about it.

Kelly 4 years ago

File this under people I wish I could kick in the face.

Staying Anon 4 years ago

Hahaha! Yes!!!! Yes!!! Why is that? And I live in the south too, but that doesn’t stop anyone from kissing all over my babies’ hands. There was this nasty lady at churh that would kiss her hand slllooowwwwly all over saying “yeeessss bbbbaaaaaaaabbbbyyyy” while I and my teenage daughters watched in horror. (She was really nasty). I kept those baby wipes handy everytime I saw her coming! And my mil is one of those put-the-food-on-the-finger feeders of newborns. O.o

And once in the drs waiting room, I kept my baby in the stroller to keep her from climbing all over and picking up who knows what. But this hideously fat guy with scarabs all over his bulging, enormous arms (who sat there picking the scabs btw), reached way over a d grabbed my baby’s hand and stroked it! I was feeling pretty queasy from just looking at this guy, now I almost vomited right there. I grabbed the baby wipe and pulled her closer and wiped, wiped, WIPED her hand. What are people thinking, really?

    Evalynn Rose 4 years ago

    That’s when you need to whip out a spray bottle of lysol and just spray the person down.

    (and I probably would’ve pooped my pants in your situation with the lady at church… and the guy at the drs….)

cindie 4 years ago

When my son was around 6 months old I was sitting in a public service office and the cuttest little hispanic grandma wanted to hold my son… i reluctantly let her do it and she proceeded to kiss the palm of his hands!!!! I wanted to scream STOOOOOP THAT! but shock of what I was seeing held me back. I learned later from my husband that it is an old fable in the hispanic community that if you kiss the hand of a baby you are kissing away all sickness and disease?!?!? Does this make sense to anyone else? ha ha! I couldn’t wash his hands fast enough.

Alexis 4 years ago

I have a way over the top love of baby toes. Every time I see some chubby little baby toes I have to stifle an overwhelming desire to pop them into my mouth. However I’ve learned that no matter HOW good friends you are with somebody, the only toes you are allowed to stuff into your mouth are your OWN baby’s.

Sadly my babies have grown up and their toes are no longer cute little jelly beans. So word to the wise – enjoy those little baby toes while you got em because once they are gone you are DONE until the grandbabies show up.

Stephanie 4 years ago

The revenge comes when your kid puts her hand in another kid’s mouth, in front of his horrified mother. 😉

Kristen Mae 4 years ago

At least when you’re breast-feeding the baby does have all the immunities you have. However, the thing about people who have mouth-herpes – yeah. Nasty. Like they don’t know they have it? My sister’s MIL has it and used to offer my nieces drinks from her straw, or she’d ask if they wanted to have some of grandma’s chap-stick. My sister finally had to be rude with her to get her to stop. Babies or no babies, if you have mouth-herpes, keep your damn saliva to yourself.

And of course it goes without saying that you should not put someone else’s hand in your mouth. Ever. Gross.

Tarina 4 years ago

Hahha – I have limits where snotnosed tiny humans are concerned, or if the person is coughing like they have the black plague (DO people cough with the black plague? idfk) But in general, germs are good. You can wash your kid’s hands, and it helps build their immune system. Of course that doesnt make it easier with baby number one, but once you get to number 2 or godwilling/godforbid (I accept both points of view) number4, You’ve seen the first ones survive and pretty much as long as they dont lick the ground more than twice a day, you know they’ll be cool.

    Jenelle W. 4 years ago

    Ha! OMG! Good to know I’m not alone. Oh-so-dear-child-of-mine licked 3 different counters and the floor twice while out shopping this morning…Gross? Yes. Did I do much other than sigh for him to stop? No. (‘Course we’re not talking about someone licking an infant – that shits inexcusable. Ever.)

Lynn 4 years ago

A family member put cake icing on her nasty, nicotine stained fingers and then fed it to my 6 month old baby boy!!! WTFlip is wrong with people?! (Excuse the “flip”, I’m trying to break my cursing habit, even in abbreviations. Something about the 2yo going around saying, “What the HELL!” that makes you realize you should probably clean up the potty mouth.)

Sara Peluso (@simplifybysara) 4 years ago

Son born in June 06; 2nd grade daughter’s Bagel Breakfast in September & Ariel’s Mom put her fingers in my baby boys mouth! We still call Ariel “the girl whose Mom put her fingers in Anthony’s mouth” I am rarely at a loss for words, but I still have no idea what I was supposed to say ..

tracey 4 years ago

I am kinda the opposite in that I freak out whenever my kids use antibacterial lotions or those Purell squirty things. Not allowed! NOT ALLOWED!!

I actually get tense just thinking about all of the helpful bacteria that die in the pursuit of killing the evil-doer-bacteria. I have issues: I ACCEPT THIS!

Then Again, we don’t live near the subway or in a city, so I can’t really compare the amount of germs on those who kissed and licked my babies… ANYway, just trying to say I UNDERSTAND but in a different way. :)

    Guerrilla Mom 4 years ago

    Oh god, I don’t use any of that antibacterial stuff either. It’s the hands in mouth and the putting of babies hands in the mouth (for people who aren’t super close or related). I think living in a crazy busy city has just made me a huge fan of personal space and boundaries.

Guerrilla Mom 4 years ago

Thanks for the commiseration, ladies. Lucien is now old enough to field those advances himself – but God was it stressful to have an infant!

Dr. Blondie 4 years ago

Yes, I totally agree! The general public drives me crazy, too. My son is almost one now, but I still pull him away when I see a stranger’s grubby hands approaching him. I can’t think of a time when I have reached out to touch a stranger’s baby, so it baffles me that my baby gets accosted so often.

Mamarific 4 years ago

Ha! Waiting in lines out at stores were always the worst places my baby and I would get accosted with people wanting to touch his face. And you’re right, it’s usually the scariest, dirtiest, tobacco-stained, grubby-handed people alive.

Roddy Jones 4 years ago

Yes, totally with you. I just don’t understand why people do that. I remember being in the bathroom changing my 3rd daughter (by #3 I accepted it was ok to use the changing the table in the bathroom after using my Clorox wipes and then putting down the changing pad, lol). An old lady walked out of the stall, walked over, looked down at my daughter, grabbed her hands and her face saying “oh, how cute.” I almost died on the spot. LADY, you just came out from using the bathroom, wiping your butt, not one lick of soap and water on your hands and you just touched my child! I almost pulled out the Clorox wipes. YUCK!

    Debbie 3 years ago

    My MIL tries to do that! She has psoriasis and doesnt wash her hands ever! She also showers once a month and wears dentures so doesnt clean her mouth. So I know she doesnt wash hands after she comes out of the bathroom…. She isn’t allowed to touch my three month old, and if she does, I clean my poor daughter from head to toe. She comments all the time (usually around her daughter who she hopes will say something to me… let her try!) about how she can’t hold her granddaughter. It pisses me off, it starts with her and somehow it’s my fault? Her kids don’t see it, they just see her as their old mum. I cant bear it though. I was so angry I burst into tears because my husband put our baby in his mother’s lap for Christmas and the first thing she did was turn to me and say”Hey! look here! You’re baby’s in my lap” Why am I not allowed to hit people??

      Mary 1 year ago

      Just an FYI, psoriasis isn’t catching.

      I understand the rest, and absolutely agree that washing and cleanliness are essential, especially around newborns, though. Ew.

        Amy 1 year ago

        I think she was saying that is why she doesn’t wash her hands ( my hands get super chapped in the winter and I know washing them makes them sore for hours, so I can see how someone with psoriasis might avoid washing their hands due to the pain), not that she thought her MIL’s psoriasis was catching

Beth 4 years ago

Oh, I was the total B*tch when people, especially strangers, approached my babies! The lady in the grocery store who sneezed then tried to crab my little darlin’s hands may never recover.

EllieKay 4 years ago

You need new people, a new address. Or a stun gun.
Here in the South, we go crazy over baby feet. And we kiss toes.
Putting baby hands that we did not birth in our mouths, or sticking our fingers in a friend’s baby’s mouth gets filed under “That (Shit) is Just Not Done”.

    Evalynn Rose 4 years ago

    I live in the south and people give me death glares when I tell them to wash their hands before holding the baby… even after they’ve come from a doctor appointment. And then what’s the first thing they do? Let my baby suck on their hand. And yeah… some random person in the grocery store kept following me, trying to touch my baby, while completely ignoring me. Seriously? I’m practically running away from you and you keep following us! What is wrong with people?

    I’m from upstate NY… and you southerners are just as nuts.

      Lolthlorien 4 years ago

      lol, Yep I live in GA and we are crazy but I am a germaphobe. You cannot touch my baby until your hands are washed or germ-x’d or you will get slapped and people in walmart who want to look I always politely say “You can Look, but don’t touch” I get hateful looks but ya know what fuck off. lol

        Evalynn Rose 4 years ago

        There should be a onsie that says, “Keep your hands to your fucking self.”

Kate @ 4 years ago

So true! LOL.

Mom Off Meth 4 years ago

I was only the mother I wanted to be with the first and second ones. The next two got a crazy person for a mommy. At that point, anyone could have held them and licked their faces. Just HELP me!!

Love your story.

Allison 4 years ago

I am so with you! It drives me crazy. And why people much touch, touch, touch newborns with their filthy hands. My daughter has red hair and she was stopped by every random person as a baby so they could touch her hair. I got very good at maneuvering the shopping cart to get beyond reach and run over grabby-granny’s toes at the same time.

    carls 2 years ago

    i would not stop just keep on going let them see you as rude. they dont need to touch,look,talk to, or any of that to your baby you go on.
    dont stop if it drives you crazy let them think its rude when THEY are being rude


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