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Keeping Baby Safe


What do you do when you become at odds with your spouse over safety concerns? My wife feels that it is perfectly alright for anyone and everyone to hold our 1 month old, even her sister who had been broadcasting that she had contracted poison ivy. She also wanted to take our child to the zoo in 100 degree heat.

My insistence that she not do that, with the support of our pediatrician's head nurse, has caused a rift with my wife and her family. They are all telling me that I need to lighten up.

I can't tell you how instinctive all this feels for me. I just don't think it is necessary to expose our baby to unnecessary risks. My wife sees no problem with it.

What is my best approach?



Your "instinct" is a classic example of the protective instinct most fathers feel towards their new baby (and wife) and is part of becoming a dad. Asking the pediatric nurse for advice is a constructive step, and dads being the "safety monitor" (because we also tend to push our children to take risks as they grow)is highly recommended.

The bigger issue is how you and your wife learn how to work together to raise your child, which requires compromise. Suggestions include talking to your wife about your strong protective feelings, your other ideas for safety (e.g., proper installation of the car seat, baby proofing the house), and how this is the type of issue you need to work out together without the involvement of her family. Lighten up where you can, but don't give up on safety because it is a very important issue and how you work such disagreements out is an essential part of the learning curve for new parents.

The good news is that your new family is only one month old, so dad and mom are very early in the process of learning how to work together to build a strong one. Let me know how it works out.

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