Smells Like Smoke
Question: We have a 6-month-old baby and will be visiting several relatives in the coming months, some of whom smoke. I don't want any smoking around my baby. Is it unreasonable to ask relatives not to smoke when we are visiting? As in, no smoking even if they step outside? I worry that the smell or chemicals might be harmful.
Answer: You can make demands on someone in his own home, but you would be rude to do so. In the very unlikely event that your relatives blow smoke rings directly at the baby's head, then of course, ask that they please refrain. What's more likely is that they will smoke in a different room or step outside, and it would be unreasonable to ask them not to.
Cigarette smoke is gross—no argument there—but the occasional whiff will never be able to undo the good you do in bringing your baby up in a safe, loving, healthy and smoke-free environment. Attempting to ban even the scent of it on others' clothing will only cause unnecessary stress to you, your baby and everyone you socialize with.
In the real world, people kill, shoot heroine, have unprotected sex, drive drunk, eat shit food and smoke cigarettes. Some of these things are more dangerous than others. How will you educate your baby on any of it if you're on high-alert for all of it? To raise a well-adjusted and chill child, you must know when to chill yourself as a parent. This sounds like the perfect stomping ground to practice.
Visit your relatives. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they'll refrain from smoking near the baby without any prompting from you. If they don't, pack up and leave without further thought. If, however, they do smoke in a separate room or outside, be glad that they're being considerate and refrain from voicing any concern over tobacco-scented clothing. Channel your angst into truly worrisome matters, like how in the hell you'll be able to afford college tuition come 2034...