While some mothers may welcome a helping hand while trying to get a pram sorted, others can find it daunting when a stranger asks to take their child, even if only for a moment. But would you let a stranger hold your baby?
One mother, who posts as Katrina12 on Mumsnet, raised the question after a waitress asked if she could hold her child.
“Met a friend for coffee and cake this afternoon with my eight month old [who is] very friendly and sociable, and the lady serving our table took quite a shine to him,” the mother wrote.
“She kept ‘popping back’ [to] check we were OK and to smile and wave at [my baby]. I am very sociable myself and [he] is such a smiler I often get chatting to people out and about which I am more than happy to do, however this lady wouldn’t leave us alone and persisted to keep coming back for well over an hour.”
The mother said that when she was picking her son up from his high chair to put him in his pram the waitress “came over and held her hands out and asked if she could hold him”. The mother, who describes herself as someone who is usually polite and easygoing, said she abruptly blurted out “no you cannot” out of shock, and said she found the request “totally inappropriate”.
The post sparked a lengthy discussion on the site, with responses ranging from parents saying they would never let a stranger hold their baby to others saying that often people are trying to be helpful.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of parenting site ChannelMum.com, told HuffPost UK that new babies stir up loving instincts in “almost everyone” which makes it unsurprising that strangers often ask to hold them.
“While babies are not public property and no one has the right to demand a cuddle - no matter how quick - the only right answer is that it’s down to what the parents are comfortable with,” she said.
“Most mums aren’t happy playing pass the parcel with a newborn - the instinct to protect your precious child is so very strong and there is an additional risk of infection with tiny babies.
“However, if a stranger offers to hold an older tot, it can often give you a welcome quick break to finish your coffee or sort out the buggy before you head off. There’s nothing lovelier than the trust of a baby so if you do let someone hold them, you’re spreading some happiness around.”
Other parents like to choose their response based on the moment and how they feel about a person. One mother on Twitter named Lauren said: “Some people I don’t get a good feeling about so I normally make an excuse. I think it’s odd when people ask as well, I take a rule of wait to be offered!”
Martha Hampson said she has no problem with people asking to hold her baby, but said if her child is a bit “on the edge” then she will say no. “But I have had a couple of people she’s never met before do it without asking, which isn’t great,” she added. “She tends to then scream in their faces which I think is a legit response.”
But some people are not keen on strangers holding their baby. Kate Russell, who has a two-year-old and an eight-week-old, said: “Don’t mind as long as people ask (and as long as I know them). I’d have no issue with saying no though - my baby, my rules.”