Please be more careful.

Some of you are going to love me and thank me for writing this blog, and some of you are going to roll your eyes.  If you roll your eyes, then this blog is written to you. If you thank me, this is probably written for you. The topic doesn’t get discussed often, because it’s an uncontrollable problem. This blog is not going to change the world. I’m hoping that maybe it will help a few people though.

It’s not religion. It’s not circumcision. It’s not vaccinations. It’s not breastfeeding. It’s nothing that even stirs volatile feelings of any kind really. At least not to most of us. But it’s something that some mothers think about every single day, like a monster lurking behind every corner… and with good reason.

Your child gets stick with the flu or strep throat. Maybe you just went to a chicken pox party even. It could be as simple as an unexplained fever. No big deal really. Right after going to the doctor to get your child checked out, you go to get your prescriptions filled, pick up some saltine crackers and popsicles. Your baby is still with you of course, because you don’t have a sitter and… well… it’s going to be a long couple of days caring for your sick little one and you don’t want to go back out later.  Since your child is already run down, you use the little sanitizer wipes on the cart, then plop your sick baby in. You don’t want him catching something else on top of whatever this is, right? Especially with your nephew’s birthday party happening in a couple of days.

Consider this though…

What if your child was “run down,” every day? And what if those “couple of days caring for your sick little one” was weeks (or months) caring for your sick little one? And what if instead of missing the birthday party, you were worried about them missing an entire school year if they got sick, or worse?

All over our country, in every city, there are children with weakened immune systems. This could be from a disease like cancer or HIV. It could be from an organ transplant. It could be from any number of things.

I write this blog today to implore you to think about these families as you handle your sick children. If you wipe your cart down before putting your child in because he’s already fighting something off, won’t you please also wipe your cart down after? Will you please be thorough and diligent with hand washing when your child is sick? Will you consider going back out later without your child instead of taking him into the public contagious? If your child is sick one day, will you please not subject an entire birthday party of children to your child’s sickness by pumping him with Motrin and then calling him better? Motrin doesn’t take the germs away. Motrin just makes the germs less evident to the other moms at the party. A child on Mortin at a party is the equivalent of a sack of germs in the gift bags.

I was pretty upset when I found out my son’s dad took him out to lunch after he “started feeling better” from puking for two days with a fever. I was partly mad because he was already sick and should have been resting, and a whole lot mad because who knows who else he infected while being out in public. It got me to thinking about writing this blog.

I know the arguments. “Survival of the fittest.” Or “Those children with weakened immune systems should just stay home.” Those arguments are lacking compassion at best. At worst, I could go so far as to call them inhumane.

For one thing, there’s much more to children getting sick these days than strong genetics. And secondly…

What if it were your child? Would it still be survival of the fittest?

If it were your child, would you still say that they should stay home all the time? Mother’s with children with compromised immune systems must take calculated risks. They must still ensure socialization. And sometimes, like you, they may also have to run into the pharmacy for medication after a doctor’s visit.

Like I said, this blog isn’t going to be published and then magically, everyone will become enlightened and all of the children with weakened immune systems will be safe. That monster is eternally lurking behind every corner for these children’s mothers. This blog won’t change that. But if one time, one of you thinks about this and then keeps a sick child away from the public…. Well, that might be the one time that one child with the weakened immune system would have spent the summer in the hospital, but instead, spends it normal.

And that one normal summer for that one child is worth writing this blog.



  1. Kari Meeker

    THANK YOU! My DD hasn’t gotten sick yet (thank goodness, but I know it will come) but I never thought about wiping the cart AFTER using it – even though I”m anal about wiping it before. You’ve really given me food for thought and I appreciate it – I know my DH will, too, as he’s consciencious about things like that, too.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I’m looked at like I’m crazy amd told I’m “too overprotective” when I keep my son at home when sick or I ask coughing, sneezing family members to steer clear. I’m just cautious.

    It’s refreshing to know that others exercise the same restraint I do to keep their little ones from infecting others and aren’t afraid to tell people they should do the same.

  3. kelly carr

    It would not matter if they wiped the cart after because you wipe it before you use it. That means everytime the cart is used it is wiped from the previous person. Cant always run home after drs office.

    • Dawn Papple

      No, you’re missing the point. Not everyone wipes the cart before they use it because sometimes, the wipes are empty. Sometimes, they’re exhausted. Sometimes they don’t know that your child was slobbering in some weird place. Know what I mean? It’s simple. If your child is sick, wipe the cart down after you use it. It’s no different than washing your hands after you use the bathroom or blow your nose. It’s common courtesy. Or SHOULD be.

  4. Thank you. My son has congenital hypothyroidism, found in his newborn screening, and that’s all so far (besides jaundice for a LONG time after birth.) No strep, no ear infections, only a minor cold – and he’s almost 10m. I am a different story. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I am VERY susceptible to any cold, virus, etc. Miserable! I’m a birth doula and that worries me sometimes; however, it seems when I attend a birth in a home or birth center I am ok. Hospitals are tricky though!

  5. Caitlyn Pelletier

    I completely agree with you! Thank you for posting. My son had RSV when he was an infant, now every year he gets one really bad cold with a cough. We’re very fortunate he’s otherwise very healthy. Even when my son has a runny nose, I’ll keep him home. I’ll stay home from storytime and playgroups because I don’t want to risk anybody else’s kids getting sick. I just wish EVERYBODY else had that mentality.

  6. crystal

    Thank you so much Dawn for bringing up issues that are sometimes easier to just not think about. Having a child that has had an organ transplant, we are constantly assessing risks. But every time someone else takes that extra step to minimize spreading something in a public space, we are eternally grateful. We know there are times when we can’t control the germs, maybe someone didn’t know their child was coming down with a virus, but when we DO KNOW that our child is sick and WE DO TAKE the extra step to keep them out of the public areas, then we are being conscious of others. And that’s all we ever ask, is just to think of others that we share the world with!

  7. I see your point and whenever possible we try to protect our kids and others. If people practice awareness and compassion thats what we hope for. That said, it sounds like you and others have 1 child. I have three, and when one of them gets sick it gets tricky. What would you say parents with multiple children?

    • crystal

      I have 3 children.

      Sometimes, we have to sacrafice things for the others when 1 is sick too. If my healthy one(not the one with the transplant) gets a fever, I cancel things for the other two as well. I know that we could spread to another unknowing family, and coming from being that “at risk” family, i definitely alert others when i know we might have something contagious. It may mean after the doctor’s office, we wait until hubby is home in the evening so i can go get a med for her without bringing her illness to the store. It might mean the other 2 have to forego a playdate until i know we aren’t still contagious at home, etc. It’s definitely not easy to make this type of choice, but it’s part of living in a community. It does get hard and tricky to get things done with 3 kids and 1 is sick, but sometimes I use it as a chance to sit and have more 1 on 1 time with the other 2. Getting a family puzzle often comes from those times.

    • No, I have three. And I’m not a germophobe, I’m just trying to be respectful, much like washing MY hands after I go to the bathroom. I mean, I don’t wash my hands for ME, I do it for others. If I wash my hands after I blow my nose (which i do) I do it for OTHERS. My germs aren’t going to hurt me.

  8. Trisha W.

    I don’t understand wiping the cart down after I use it. First of all not all people wipe carts down before let alone after so won’t their germy cart get my cart contaminated when they are all nested together in the cart return and won’t the person moving the carts from the parking lot to the store get it dirty as well?

    Personally, we keep a container of Clorox wipes in our car so that we can wipe carts down at places that don’t offer sanitizing wipes in the first place. Costco is one of those places. One thing that drives me nuts there is that if I don’t have my cart riding kids with me, I don’t get the cart I wiped down at the start of my shopping trip to haul my stuff out to my car.

    When I wipe my carts down I don’t just do the kid area. I wipe the top edges all around the basket area of the cart as well. There are so many times that I push or pull my cart w/o using the handle area.

  9. Shira Windschitl

    I am blessed with a very healthy little… but he didn’t start out that way. I spent his first ten days visiting him in the NICU. It was horrible, well and truly horrible. When my little one is sick, we camp out in the house. I wish more people would.

    Also, unless you do have a little with a weakened immune system, you are doing far more harm with all those sanitizers than good. Germs are what build a strong immune system.

  10. Heather P

    Great article, I have had to do just what you said, stop at the store on the way home from finding out my daughter has an infection. I have no sitter and my husband works long hours, I have wiped the cart before but not after and never given it a second thought. I normally won’t take her anywhere when she is sick so that she won’t get others sick but never really thought about the cart, not sure why…makes perfect sense but I will from now on!

  11. Amy

    I’m a part time…ok hardly ever cart wiper. I know why I should, I just never think to do it. I’m not a hand washing all the time type person. I wash after I poo, if I manage to dribble on my hands, before I cook (and during and after depending on what I handle) after a poopy diaper change. I don’t wash before I eat (normally since I just finished cooking it), I don’t wash after every time I pee and I don’t wash after wiping my nose or coughing in my hand always.
    I’m of the school that says germs will make you stronger, in the long run. You antibacterial, sanitize, sterilize, decontaminate everything you see and the germs become stronger and not you. I get colds, I get over colds.

    I NEVER thought about the germs Avery or I leave behind. And that’s the point. Whatever *I* believe about my families personal hygiene doesn’t mean I should subject others to that. I can’t promise I will always wipe down my cart after Avery and I have used it, but after reading this I certainly will more then I did. I can promise to do so every time I think about it, which I will.

    • Dawn Papple

      I don’t wipe for my kids either. I do wipe after my kids though for children and adults who might have compromised immune systems. I fully agree with you Amy. I don’t want to rid my children of all germs, but I don’t want to leave behind germs for others.

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