Most parents, whether they live in China or not, know the frustrations of having to deal with strangers wanting to touch their newborn. Living in China means facing these experiences, on a far greater scale, and in ways that will surely blow your mind. We have had complete strangers pick up our child, and walk away! Many lean in close to look at our son, and then touch his face. To be honest, this infuriated me in the beginning. Trusting that a complete stranger has clean hands, in any country, is a risky game. As your child gets older and their immune system has strengthened a little, these intrusive touches may begin to bother you less, but still many parents are highly aggravated by these actions. By the time that your little one can walk, they will be bombarded by one group after the next, all wanting a photo with this sweet foreign face.
Here are some tips for dealing with people who want to touch and take pictures with your child…
- Simply walk away! If you see a stranger eyeing your baby and you suspect that they are about to lean in to touch, quickly turn around and take a detour.
- Keep baby covered! The most amazing accessory that our stroller had was a thin, zip-up cover. Even if someone wanted to touch baby, this cover made that impossible! Another great way to keep baby from being touched is to wear them – baby-wearing is a life saver in many respects in China.
- Just say NO. With our lack of Chinese, this was a tough one for us, but knowing how to tell a Chinese person that you prefer for them not to touch your baby is really a great way to get them to back off. The good news is that as children get older they start to express this by themselves.
It hasn’t been easy but over the last two years, I have done my utmost to humble myself in these situations. Although the mama bear instincts want to kick in, it is important to remember that children are absolutely adored in China. In addition, foreigners, although a more common sight now, are still very rare in China. Many Chinese people have never even seen a Caucasian face before, so to see one in the form that they adore most, well… imagine the joy and amazement that they must feel!
How ever you decide to react, just remember that almost every Chinese person that tries to touch or take pictures with your baby, means no harm. Children are cherished in China, and your little one is not only cute and little, but possibly the highlight of that local’s week!
Catherine is a contributor to havingababyinchina.com. She was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, but met her American husband in South Korea, while they were both teaching there. They moved to China in 2011, and have since traveled the world and had their first child. Catherine enjoys running, photography, blogging, food, and outdoor adventure. She and her husband blog about life, love, travel and all things in-between at travelingwithjc.blogspot.com.