Thirdhand smoke can cause harm to children and babies


A mum has expressed her concern over her mother-in-law’s smoky hands touching her newborn.

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 American publication 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.”

READ MORE: When should children be left home alone?

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.

This new mum is also worried her mother-in-law will feel “ostrazised” [sic] 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?”

READ MORE: Baby almost dies after kiss on the lips 

The phenomena of thirdhand smoke is so new that parenting columnist Carvell Wallace hadn’t heard of it.

He was initially skeptical of its validity admitting he would “light cigarettes for the elders in my family” when he was younger. After some research, he changed his mind.

He wrote: “Thirdhand smoke is a real thing apparently, so kudos to you for taking it seriously.”

“You are perfectly within your rights to ask for what you want; 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.”

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