Parents can now buy signs warning others not to touch their babies.
The signs are sold by US-based parenting company Tags 4 Tots, and are available for shipping to the UK.
The range includes the classic ‘Baby safety’ sign, in addition to a special range from ‘Preemie’ or ‘Micro-preemie’ – ie, premature – babies. The badges can be secured to car seats and prams in order to be seen clearly.
The classic sign reads: “STOP! No touching. Your germs are too big for me!”
The signs are a hit with Amazon users, with one customer commenting in the reviews: “I love this sign! I have seen strangers reach in to touch my baby and pull away after reading it. Thank goodness for it!”
Another wrote: “I love this sign! I put it on my son’s car seat. It definitely helps with handsy people not touching him.”
However, we can see why not everyone would be on board with these signs, which have the potential to seem hostile to friends or family members.
Are there health grounds for parents putting these signs on their babies? First off, we need to understand how immunity works in newborns.
Babies are born with their mother’s immunity to common infections, according to the NHS website, but this soon wears off – meaning the newborn is left vulnerable to infection. “Immunity in newborn babies is only temporary and starts to decrease after the first few weeks or months,” explains the website.
This is equally true of premature babies: “Premature babies are at higher risk of developing an illness because their immune systems aren’t as strong and they haven’t had as many antibodies passed to them.”
What’s more, a study published earlier this year by McLean Hospital in the US found immune system activation (ie being exposed to certain bacterial or viral infections) as a newborn can contribute to developmental brain disorders such as autism.
However, one school of research – popularly known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ – suggests early-life immunity could reduce sensitivity to conditions like hayfever and inflammatory bowel disease later in life.Of course, as with all parenting decisions, this is a totally personal choice and you should be able to make the right call for your children.