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Why this dad has had enough of people touching his baby

A file photo of a baby's arm.
Touching is a way for humans to connect and it's important for babies' development to experience those human connections, parenting expert Alyson Schafer says. Getty Images

Elon James White has a message for all the baby-loving people out there: stop touching his kid.

In a video posted last week to his YouTube channel called Daddy Game Proper, White broke it down for all those strangers out there who have a habit of touching babies without their parents’ permission.

READ MORE: Why this mom is telling her son he doesn’t have to share with others

“I’m asking people, as a father – as a loving, caring father – I’m asking society, could you stop touching my baby,” he says in the video. “I love it when people tell me my kid is cute. What I don’t always love is the follow-up.”

White, who has a daughter, asks viewers to stop and reflect by asking them if they would go up to an adult and touch them without their permission.

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“If you wouldn’t touch a stranger, why do you feel you should touch a child,” he asks.

When this happens, he says, he can’t help but get irritated and will pull his daughter away. Besides it being a rude gesture, White says, he worries about the potential harm that could happen from spreading germs.

“I don’t know where you’ve been,” he says. “You could be the most clean person in the entire world… But I don’t know that and you’re touching my child and now you’re making me tell you to get away from my kid.”

So if you must admire cute babies, White says there are other ways to go about it.

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“Waving from afar is fine,” he says. “Or say, ‘Do you mind if I touch your child?’ Because you know what? Asking for permission is a lot better than you just touching my kid and now I kind of a hate you a little bit. It’s not that hard of a request, is it?”

White’s message resonated with social media users.

“I never understand why people feel they can touch your baby,” Debra Oette wrote on White’s YouTube page.

“Boundaries means protecting what is yours,” Maggie Kinsella commented. “Some people, who have no boundaries, and a need for attention, feel entitled to grope your kid. They have no right to interject themselves into your space. They have a problem, not you. It’s good that strangers touching your defenseless baby brings out the protective instinct.”

“I don’t appreciate when strangers touch my dog without my permission,” Deann17 wrote. “I can’t imagine how I would react if some random [person] touched my human child!”

“For a short while, people would try to rub my son’s head,” Paula Galloway wrote on Facebook. “Please don’t touch my baby’s head. If you continue, I have to keep at least one finger. It’s required. I don’t make the rules.”

READ MORE: Putting the risk back into play: the benefits of being less protective

Some, however, weren’t on the same level.

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“It’s really simple,” said Mark Norris on YouTube. “Just tell people not to touch. People have always done it and will always do it. Just simply say no. Not a big deal.”

While parenting expert Alyson Schafer can understand where White is coming from, she’s doesn’t necessarily agree.

“As a dad, he has the right to make decisions on behalf of his baby,” she says. “He doesn’t like his kid being touched and he can enforce that desire with strangers. However, we have cultural norms and he is expressing his wish to change our cultural habit of touching babies.”

Schafer explains, “Babies are celebrations of life and we get excited by welcoming them to the world. A big smiling face and happy wiggle of their toe or touch of their hand is a natural way humans connect. Babies need connection. I would prefer to keep the loving tradition and allow those parents who don’t want their kids touched to excuse themselves from the cultural norm without judgment.”

In terms of White’s argument of germs, Schafer points out that exposure to germs early in life is good for a baby’s development.

“Every time you touch a person you pass along germs,” she says. “It is exposure to germs in early life that helps build up a child’s immunity. Lack of exposure to germs in this key developmental time leads them to being more vulnerable.”

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Several studies support Schafer’s claim, including a 2014 study by John Hopkins Medicine.

According to researchers, newborns who are exposed to dirt, dander and germs during their first year of life may be less likely to develop allergies and asthma. However, researchers note this protective effect of the exposure disappears after the first year.

But because not all parents are comfortable with others reaching out to their children, Schafer suggests asking first.

“Be aware not all parents want their baby touched,” she says. “Either ask or approach and watch their facial expressions to see if they are comfortable with your approaches. I always go for the toes myself.”