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Mom tells grandma who smokes to clean up and change clothes before holding her grandchild


A new mother expressed concerns over her child being exposed to third-hand smoke due to her mother-in-law’s smoking habits. While her mother-in-law refrains from smoking near the baby, the lingering chemicals on her clothing and hair posed a risk.

The Mayo Clinic explains that third-hand smoke consists of residual nicotine and chemicals that remain on surfaces, which can be inhaled or touched by others.

“This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix including cancer causing compounds, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers — especially children.”

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To ensure the safety of her baby from third-hand smoke, the mother requested her smoking mother-in-law to shower and change clothes before holding the newborn. Sharing her concerns on Slate.com’s Care and Feeding page, the mom expressed her anxiety about third-hand smoke, emphasizing that while she didn’t want her mother-in-law to feel bad, the baby’s health was important. She sought advice on navigating the delicate situation without hurting feelings.

The concerned mother asked how she could maintain a welcoming atmosphere for her mother-in-law while upholding boundaries regarding third-hand smoke.

She also inquired about the duration for enforcing such strictness and how to manage the situation at her in-laws’ home. In response, Care and Feeding emphasized that the mother has every right to set conditions for her child’s well-being, and how the grandmother reacts is her own responsibility.

Thirdhand Smoke Resource Center

“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. It’s not possible for them to clear all residual smoke and nicotine off of everything in their home. You may want to stay in a hotel for that reason.”

Let us know your thoughts about this mom-to-be’s concern about her baby being exposed to third-hand smoke.