Dear Crissy

Are you guilty of overprotective parenting?

When I wasn’t peeing, vomiting, or experiencing some other ache or pain during my pregnancy, I was thinking. I was thinking about what color my baby’s eyes would be, what outfit I would put him in to come home from the hospital, and if he would be as perfect as my fantasies had painted him. I also had these nagging thoughts and paranoia about actually having to take my fresh newborn baby out into a world that is so chock full of germs, sickness, and OTHER PEOPLE.

I am by no means a clean freak, or a germaphobe, and I’m certainly not an obsessive hand-washer. However, the thought of my brand new little baby-nugget being exposed to the unknown just completely petrified me. All of the media coverage of H1N1 did not help! It worried me so much that I kept him pretty sheltered for the first several months of his life. This isn’t to say that we never left the house, because we did, but it was to visit a select few family members and that was really it.

We became even more reclusive as winter and the snowy season fell upon us, and as Evan matured from week to week, my paranoia about outside influences began to shift to a concern that I was overprotecting my kid from normal interactions with new people and situations.

At 5-months, I finally took Evan shopping with me to a few stores. Of course, the day after we went on our shopping adventure, he came down with his first cold. Seeing my tiny baby struggling with congestion and terrible coughing for week was horrible. I will never know if he was already sick before I took him out, or if he picked up a bug in one of the stores we visited, but I guess it really doesn’t matter.

Every mom has a different philosophy on how much exposure is good for a newborn. I know a lot of moms who took their baby with them everywhere from day one, and they turned out just fine, and also mothers who are a little more cautious like me. If I ever have another baby, I will no doubt be a little less afraid (of everything.)

Evan is 8-months-old now, and he is sometimes a little timid when meeting new people. Thankfully summer is approaching, so taking him out do to things will be so much easier. In fact, he’ll be attending his first birthday party tomorrow, and I hope he can adjust to seeing a lot of new faces. I guess if he can’t, I’ll be the one in the other room with the crying baby!

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5 Comments

  1. Stacey — April 9, 2010 @ 3:23 pm (#)

    I can understand your fear. I think at the same time, though, not exposing him to things will only hurt his immune system. He needs to build that up, and by being in public, around people and things, and even catching a random common cold, it will help make his little immune system stronger.

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  2. Suzanne — April 10, 2010 @ 12:02 pm (#)

    No, I'm not overprotective, but as soon as my first child was born, I had a new sense of protectiveness, like a mother bear with her cubs, I guess.
    I dislike helicopter parenting and believe that my kids need to experience some things in order to gain independence.

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  3. Fat Nutrition Writer — April 11, 2010 @ 5:50 am (#)

    I know exactly what you're going through! I had my first son 2 years ago, and I definitely thought twice about what I was exposing him to. Knock on wood, he's never been sick, but I don't think that had anything to do with me not taking him to the mall or parties until he was 8 months old! And the fact that he's cautious and takes more time to warm up to people – those are typically the traits of the first born. They experience a little more parental anxiety, but it really doesn't have much to do with how much exposure they have to others when they are young.

    But son #2 who is 9 months old – totally different story! Since he was born, he has been everywhere and touched by tons of people who I am sure didn't wash their hands and he's bever been sick thank God. And he's friendly, but not significantly more than my "more protected" son. So I'm not 100% sure overprotectiveness when they're little (like under 1) poses any problems.

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  4. Jeni — April 13, 2010 @ 2:42 pm (#)

    I know exactly what you mean. When I was pregnant I worked at a childcare center. My thought was “Oh my gosh, my daughter is going to be here a 6 weeks old with all these snotty nosed kids, getting binkies switched, being sneezed on, slobbered on…….” I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about all the “horrific” things that could happen. Well lo-and-behold, my daughter was at the doctors office at LEAST once a week for 5 months!!! At 6 months old she came down with the flu (not from the childcare center but from the flu-vaccine) and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. So, I quit my job, became a stay at home mom (AKA hermit) and she became a VERY shy, reserved child. While she doesn’t get sick easily anymore, I’m still trying to undo the social “damage” from being a recluse. LOL She’s extremely clingy to me, although she’s getting more outgoing towards friends and family. So, with the next one I’m just going to have to find that “happy medium” of exposure.

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  5. Pheirser — April 14, 2010 @ 11:29 am (#)

    I’m not a mum, but from watching many documentaries about history and consequently immune system information I agree with Stacy.

    It’s been proven that farmers have stronger immune systems because of their integration with animals and all the grot that goes with that.

    Hence the wiping out of the Zulu’s in Africa via small pox when colonialists invaded (they had an inbuilt immunity from agriculture). The colonial Spaniads introduced smallpox to the Aztecs which wiped them out too.

    This might sound gross, but I wouldn’t even stop my kid from picking their nose and eating it in private. Even that can build up immune systems.

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