A new mum has expressed concerns over her mother-in-law touching her newborn after smoking a cigarette.

In an online letter, the new mum asked if her mother-in-law would be offended if she asked her to shower and change before touching her newborn.

“After researching thirdhand smoke, I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette,” she wrote, in a post published on Slate.

“My husband and I have decided that after she smokes, she needs to shower and change her clothes before she can pick up the baby.”

Thirdhand smoke is a growing concern and it’s something many new parents aren’t aware of. It can occur when somebody inhales smoke that is left lingering on a person’s clothes or hands.

The new mum is also worried her mother-in-law will feel “ostracised” by her decision.

“We don’t want to hurt her feelings, but obviously, those are likely potential outcomes. How can we still be welcoming and let her know we are excited to have her around while still setting these boundaries?”

The mum was advised that she was  perfectly within her rights to ask for what she wants; “her response to that is her business, not yours. When she’s visiting you, I think you can be strict about this. When you are visiting them, I think you have to, for necessity’s sake, be less so.”

Do you think she has a right to ask her MIL not to smoke before touching her baby?

Share your comments below

  • To be fair, I think that sounds extreme but then the baby will be held very closely to her clothes. Smoke definitely gets into clothes and hair, skin etc. If she can’t wait to smoke until after she’s seen the baby then I think this is reasonable


  • I think washing hands should be enough and maybe rinse the mouth and take a chewing gum and of course smoke outside, away from baby


  • It’s a bit extreme. Maybe it will help convince her MIL to quit.


  • Going overboard, just wash hands and face and any other skin that might touch, there are a lot of toxic chemicals in body products, shampoos and perfumes, household products etc that are just as or more harmful than the lingering smells of a person who has just had a smoke. Of course don’t smoke near baby and maybe refresh your breath too though.


  • Absolutely! Having seen firsthand how 2nd hand smoke can affect your lungs now I would not allow anyone to touch my children before bathing. I watched my mother suffer from COPD & Asthma from breathing 2nd hand smoke daily & towards the end just having the smell of it on people’s clothing would trigger breathing issues. My father & I smoked in the home for many years so Mum was breathing it daily, towards the end she told me it felt like someone was sitting on her chest & suffocating her. I quit the filthy habit well before her death but any of her friends if they wished to visit had to refrain from a ciggie before dropping in, they were banned from coming if not.


  • I totally understand it’s not easy though, particularly when they are an in-law and you don’t want to offend or make it seem like you don’t want them touching the baby.


  • I feel mums right on this. I my self am allergic to nicotine (odd allergy yes ,but not a bad one), so when I’m near someone smoking or touch someone that’s been bathing in their smoke I break out in hives. I would not a smoker to carry my baby and share all that thirdhand smoke and possibly harm them.
    This might be a good way to ask to stop smoking for the sake of her grandchild?


  • I really don’t know how I’d behave in this situation. I would probably just ask her to wash her hands.


  • Her baby. She pays the bills .
    Me my parents smoked so did my sisters washing there hands was enough.
    As you cannot protect baby from everything . Car fumes bus fumes . People farting . Yes . No one is perfect .
    And one day I might need there help so I am not about to really upset anyone .
    Ore thing in the world to worry about .
    Like I said it’s her family .
    And it’s there child .
    But blood is thicker than water .
    And if her and hubby was to die tomorrow who is prepared to step up and raise this child .
    Our parents .


  • As a non smoker who was subjected to second hand smoke through my childhood, I have no problems asking my mum and MIL to clean up before handling my babies. My MIL had no problem with it, my Mum was a bit taken back but she knows I hate it so accepted it. I don’t think she understands why I never visit her though.


  • I have never cared about offending people. I have a strict no smoking rule around my children. I don’t dare who you are, if you are a smoker you can’t touch my kids.


  • I think I would first talk about my concerns with her and see if she is willing not to smoke before coming to visit her grandchild. Telling her also about the smoking lingering in dresses. Maybe, if she really loves her grandchild, she would be willing to do that by herself. But you will never know, unless you ask.


  • She has every right to ask but l believe that it is extreme!


  • I think it’s a good idea


  • As the product of being raised by a smoker and the lifelong impact it has had on my health. I say good on her and she is making sure her bub has the best chance in life


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