Third-Hand Smoke and Your Baby

Third-hand smoke. Ever heard of it? It’s a new term to me, but it’s a very real thing. Dr. Richard Graffis, chief medical officer at Indiana University, describes it as “the smoke you don’t see, but that your nose tells you is there.” You don’t have to have a smoker in your home for baby to experience these risks.

So, what exactly is third-hand smoke?

When a cigarette is puffed, it leaves residue behind on clothing, walls, and even floors. The smoke lingers in the air and mixes with other dangerous pollutants. Ever smelled someone’s purse or coat after they’ve been around a smoker? That’s third-hand smoke. Felt queasy after you’ve smelled your own baby after a relative who smokes just held her? That’s it, too.

How does it affect my baby?

Think about your baby. They experience their world through their senses. Touch, taste, smell. Crawling babies, especially. They can become exposed to these dangerous toxins through the carpet and floor of a smoking relative’s home. If someone rides in your car who is a smoker, they can even leave it behind there. Even babies in the womb are at risk. Pregnant women touch surfaces daily that are coated with smoke residue or simply just inhale dangerous toxins related to smoking. These dangerous toxins travel through the bloodstream, to the placenta, and to the baby. Smoke exposure-of any kind–has been linked to respiratory problems in babies.

How do I protect baby without sounding like a snob?

Obviously, you are trying to protect your baby if you are keeping them away from smoke in your own home. But, if someone in your house is a smoker, ask them to designate a smoke jacket or leave their smoky clothes outside. Wearing the same item to smoke in outside and keeping this item away from baby will help. I have a very close family relative who is around smoke daily. I do not allow my daughter to go into her house. I do allow her to come play, snuggle, and love on Johanna in a safe, smoke-free environment. Keep smoky items away from baby, such as purses that may have been exposed. Any baby would love to explore a purse. Ask those who hold your baby to wash their hands before. Turn to other moms for advice.

As a mom, we all want the best for our children. Keeping them away from smoke dangers is an easy way to protect them, love them, and give them a good start for a healthy future.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of one and one on the way. She does her best to protect her daughter in every way and loves her to the moon and back.

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