#1 Baby Rule of Reciprocal Introductions

The #1 Baby Rule of Reciprocal Introductions: “If someone approaches you to inquire about your baby and is carrying a baby of their own, proper etiquette decrees that you are obligated to acknowledge their baby and make similar inquiries of him or her, whether or not you care!”

I didn’t even know this unspoken rule existed until I became acutely aware of its absence today!

Picture this scene: I take my baby over to see another little baby, who is kicking and cooing in her car seat while her mother packs up groceries at the store.  We peer into the seat and say hello.  The baby smiles and coos some more.  The mother ignores us, and actually walks right around us to put her groceries in the cart without making eye contact.

“How old is your baby?” I ask the back of her head.

“Five months.”  The woman finally makes eye contact, but doesn’t look at my baby, who is bouncing in the Baby Bjorn carrier right on my front.

“She’s adorable.”

“Thanks.”  Back to loading groceries.  Fine, maybe she’s in a hurry.

“What’s her name?”


“Beautiful name.”

“Thanks.”  She turns her back on me.

I walk away, back to my cart.  All of a sudden, I feel supremely offended that she did not made a single inquiry about my baby!

That was not my goal in approaching her baby in the first place; I don’t have a bizarre baby-centric complex that gets soothed by having people acknowledge my child!  It comes down to the basic fact that moms love talking about their kids (as irritating as this can be), and if I go out of my way to interact with someone’s child, I expect the interaction to be reciprocated on some level.  Just asking the same questions of my child as I ask of yours is a way of relating instantaneously as mothers.  We both know what it’s all about.  Babies lead to camaraderie; they’re a common accessory that we’re both carrying, a mutual point of interest, a shared experience.

Perhaps the questions stem from a desire for comparison.  Moms do that all the time.  I want to know how old another baby is to compare my child’s development.  We like having a measuring stick of some kind, and what better way than to meet other babies of the same age?  I know they all develop at different rates, but it’s still fun to compare.  As for names, I just like names!  It’s fascinating to hear what other people choose to name their children; sometimes I love it, other times I’m horrified, but my questions are always born from innocent curiosity.

I don’t want to overreact, because maybe that lady was in a big hurry and didn’t want to be stopped.  I’ve been there, too – all those gushy old ladies who want to fondle the baby’s hands and face when he’s in fact just getting over a cold and I don’t want anyone near him!  Or the people who stop to ask a whole string of questions while my toddler has disappeared around the end of the grocery aisle and needs to be chased!  Or, worst of all, when someone has an intense conversation with your baby and never makes eye contact with you, despite you standing there with a dumb grin on your face, waiting for them to look up, but no, they just walk on!

I really don’t think that today’s grumpy mommy was in that big a hurry.  She just didn’t care one hoot about my kid!  Why not?!  I’ll never be able to answer that.  She’s that way for whatever reason.  But, thanks to her, I learned today about the #1 Baby Rule of Reciprocal Introductions.  Basic concept: if someone asks the age, you ask the age.  A name for a name.  Throw in a compliment for a compliment, if you’re feeling generous.  Just be friendly, please, for the sake of the kids we’re trying to raise!  Let’s be a good example for their sake.


6 thoughts on “#1 Baby Rule of Reciprocal Introductions

  1. I actually think that lady is a bit rude. I would have at least said hi and acknowledged your presence. She didn’t really act like she wanted to look at you.

    1. I know! Oh well… she’s that way for whatever reason that I’ll never know! But experiences like this one make me doubly aware of how I want to come across to others when tables are turned!

  2. Great post. So true. I’m for giving the woman the benefit of the doubt, even though she was rude. Perhaps she was afraid this could end up in a long conversation she wasn’t prepared for. Maybe she just needed to use the loo! At any rate, central point of this post is spot on, and something I ought to keep in mind. (The woman might also have been a bit shy.)

    1. Maybe, shyness is definitely a good possibility, and something I don’t always consider since I’m anything but. I never quite know how to relate to super shy people, because I usually think they’re mad at me or don’t like me for some reason!

  3. This reminds me of a woman I knew…she would hold other people’s babies and even ask about mine and coo all over him when he was little…however when she had her own baby she wouldn’t let anyone near him. I came up to him in his car seat while it was attached to a buggy just to get a look, and she literally screamed at me, “Don’t touch him!” I hadn’t planned on touching the baby, I just wanted to see him since I had never met him yet. I make it a point not to touch other people’s children unless they say it’s ok to start with and I always ask. I thought it was extremely rude to scream at me the way she did! Some people just are rude and you don’t really have a reason for it. I agree with your post…parents should maintain some sort of courtesy.

    1. Wow – that IS really rude to scream at anyone like that! I’ve had perfect strangers ask to hold my babies, which I always found weird and sometimes said no, but assuming that a friendly peek leads to touching is a bit over the top.

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