A new baby’s arrival causes great pleasure and excitement but can also be a source of anxiety.

One mother was worried that because her mother-in-law smoked heavily, her infant might be exposed to third-hand smoke.

The expectant mother was naturally worried because even though her mother-in-law refused to smoke around her child, smoke would still get on her clothes and hair.

The Mayo Clinic defines thirdhand smoke as “remaining nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke.” The off-gassing from these surfaces or direct contact with contaminated surfaces exposes people to these toxins.

Old Lady Smoking Friends Talk - Free photo on Pixabay Generic image/Pixabay


“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.”

Before holding her new grandchild, she asked if her mother-in-law could take a shower and change out of her clothes so she could be certain she wasn’t bringing any third-hand smoke into her home and around her infant.

According to’s Care and Feeding page, the mom said: ” I’m not worried about her smoking in front of my child, but after researching thirdhand smoke, I am very concerned about her holding the baby after she has had a cigarette. My husband and I have decided that after she smokes, she needs to shower and change her clothes before she can pick up the baby.”

“We don’t want my mother-in-law to feel ostracized, and we don’t want to hurt her feelings, but obviously, those are likely potential outcomes,” the anonymous “worried mom-to-be,” asked the help and advice page.

American Pregnancy Association

“How can we still be welcoming and let her know we are excited to have her around while still setting these boundaries? Also, how long should we remain this strict about the issue? How should we handle this when we are visiting my in-laws?”

In response to her question, Care, and Feeding wrote: “You are perfectly within your rights to ask for what you want; her response to that is her business, not yours.”

“When she’s visiting you, you can be strict about this. When visiting them, I think you have to be less so for necessity’s sake. They can’t remove all residual smoke and nicotine from everything in their home. You may want to stay in a hotel for that reason.”

Frequently Asked Questions - Thirdhand Smoke Resource CenterThirdhand Smoke Resource Center

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