Sticky Situations | Smoking Around Baby

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We moms are all supposed to be on the same team, right? But what about those times when you catch another mom giving you a sideways judgy glance – whether it’s because you just let your toddler eat a cracker off the floor or your preschooler is getting bullied by a bigger kid and you step in to reprimand the offender? In this series we’re talking about these sticky situations…the ones where you feel like you might be breaking some sort of unspoken rule – if only you knew what it was! Help us solve these tricky questions in the comments – sound off with your own opinions and let’s get some discussion going!

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My husband and I are expecting our first child in early October, a little girl named Everly. We are so excited and are looking forward to the day that we introduce her to our families at the hospital.

However, there is only one little aspect we are not looking forward to…how to handle smokers around our baby. We have family members on both sides of our family that are smokers. I am glad that I never started, because I can’t imagine how hard it would be to quit! If you are a non-smoker like my husband and I, than you can understand how easy it is to smell cigarette smoke on people. As much as I want my baby to meet all of her aunts and uncles and to have pictures of them holding her, I don’t want to get my baby back smelling like an ash tray!

In addition, even though the smell is enough to bother me, the toxins from smoke can stick on clothes and in hair and be harmful to my little girl and her tiny developing lungs, heart, and brain. BUT, the last thing on earth that I want to do is make any of our family members feel unwelcome to visit or hold our new baby girl.

The problem is that this also won’t end when we get home from the hospital. This is an issue that will come up any time we are around our smoking family members as our little girls grows up. We love spending time with our families and want that to be a part of the memories that our daughter has of growing up.

So how do we approach this issue sensitively? Do we ask visitors not to smoke before visiting us at the hospital? Do we monitor hand washing before handing off our baby? Do we deny family members the opportunity to hold our baby because we know they just smoked a cigarette and can smell it on them? Where is the line, because we are afraid of crossing it and offending family members that we love?!?

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Kayleigh Larkins married her husband last November and now they are expecting their first child, a little girl, this October.  She works as an Accountant with the State of Arizona and any free time she gets is consumed with preparing for their first child. Kayleigh and her husband live in North Phoenix and are extremely excited for the arrival of their daughter. She also loves her two hound dogs and one kitty and blogs about their preparations for the baby over at Baby and the Hounds.

6 COMMENTS

  1. “Add a new health threat to smoking: In addition to the harm caused by actually smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, so-called third-hand smoke may also pose a threat, particularly to babies and toddlers.” see website attached

    I lost my Mother and Aunt to lung cancer. They never saw me get married or have the first Grandchild. They both died in their 60’s. They quit smoking when they got pregnant, 33+ years of not smoking and still loss of life.. Their mother lived to be 95. It is a deadly, toxic and horrific addiction.

    You have chosen a healthy lifestyle and pregnancy. Now is not the time to step back worried about others feelings. The choice is simple. You smoke, you dont hold the baby. Bring a change of clothes, wash your hands…Then you bond with the baby. No parent would willingly put their child in danger. The science states the facts. Very hard line I have drawn, but thankfully, I know no smokers and for our family this is not an issue.

    I will say that although I didn’t deal with this and smoking, I did have to tell a few people that they couldnt hold the baby because they had on too much perfume, They were offended. But I guarantee, when you see your little baby girl so pure and delicate…The last thing you want is for their skin or lungs exposed to that. Best to you and yours on this amazing journey!

  2. We have a little girl who we adopted a while ago. She is medically fragile and among other things has respitory issues. We have maintained contact with her birth family, who all smoke. On top of the akwardness of building this unconventional relationship, we have had to “gently insist” that before they come for a visit, step have to be taken. I have been so proud of this young girl (the birthmom) and how creative she has been, on her own, to make this happen. Right before a visit she and whoever is coming, shower. They drive with the windows down. and they wear “smoks-free” shirts, that she keeps in a ziplock bag in the trunk of her car. There is still always a small amount of smell, but it is much more controlled. Also, we gave our desire to provide a smoke-free environment and she took it from there. We were not the bad guys, she made the decisions, but we got the end result that we wanted.

  3. As the parents it is your responsibility to stick up for your little one. My best friend is a heavy smoker, and I still wanted her involved in my childrens lives even though I do not want them around smoke or the smell. The only way it works is that I’m very open about how I feel about the dangers of smoking and that I don’t want my children exposed to it. She wants to be part of their lives so she is respectful of our wishes. She will wash her hands, shower, wear unsmoked in clothes. Then they are able to build up the relationship like anyone else in our lives, she just has to take an extra step. I don’t think it is rude to state how you feel to family members, but I do think it is easier to talk about before baby arrives. And to gently let them know you DO want them to be involved in your daughters life, they just need to respect the fact that you want to keep her from harm. 🙂

  4. This is tough….as a wife of a smoker, I know that my husband wants to quit so badly. He has tried over 10 times and it always seems to win. The smoker is addicted to a drug that is has more addictive properties than heroin. Our cardiologist has said that it’s so much harder to quit since the nicotine is so high in those nasty little cancer sticks! I often get angry with those who make these cigarettes…..He has never been allowed to smoke in our home or around our children. This was an understood….and is to most smokers.

    With that said. Remember, they (the smokers) are not intentionally trying to cause anger in you or harm to your kids. If this is a weekly visit, do you really want to risk conflict in relationship? I agree 100% that 2nd hand smoke has some negative reactions in our bodies but if this is a person is around the child 1 time a week or so for just a few hours…is it really worth it to confront? Yes, to let them know your wishes are that they do not smoke around your baby or in your home….but after that….put the person above the addiction, that is when healing can come. The last thing we want to do is make a family member or friend feel like an outsider during a time that might be tough for them. Believe me, there are so many things that our kids are exposed too and they make it just fine. I have 13y, 11y & 8y old kids…and realized that so many times I over reacted to things and hurt those in my life…..so I share this as a mom who did it with a judgmental heart and has since learned a much more grace-filled way to handle things.

  5. We had similar concerns with a family member. She was the caregiver for her grandchildren so we knew the “we’re concerned about third hand smoke” would not work as she cared for her grandchildren and all are healthy. Rather, we delicately insisted that she put a clean blanket over her shoulder or around our daughter when she was holding her and claimed it was for warmth or to keep her clothes from drool or otherwise. She happily obliged and thus minimized the exposure to our daughter and saved everyone’s feelings.

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