Incense and a Newborn?


#1

Sunday before last we visited a parish we’ve been considering joining (closer to our home and more orthodox) and brought with us, of course, our two children, ages two years and six weeks. Everything went fine until they brought out the incense pot, and then the cathedral filled with fragrant smoke and I began to worry that my newborn should not be inhaling it. I know there has been established a strong link between cigarette smoke and SIDS, and I see no reason (though I’m no scientist) that the rule about no smoke around a baby should not also apply to other types of smoke, including incense.

Anyone have thoughts, ideas, or information on the subject?

Thanks,

Mary


#2

Unless your baby is showing signs of unusual sensitivity or perhaps if there is a history of serious allergies or asthma I wouldn’t worry about an hour a week.

Is this a cathedral where incense is going to be an every week occurance or was it a special occasion?


#3

Why don’t you check with your pediatrician or an asthma clinic? I think National Jewish Hospital in Denver has an asthma hotline. Regardless, I’d stay in the back corner of the church during the incense ceremony. Why risk damaging your precious baby’s tiny, new lungs?


#4

[quote=SMHW]Unless your baby is showing signs of unusual sensitivity or perhaps if there is a history of serious allergies or asthma I wouldn’t worry about an hour a week.

Is this a cathedral where incense is going to be an every week occurance or was it a special occasion?
[/quote]

It’s part of their regular service, I’m pretty sure. And normally I would love that, but for our particular situation.

Cupofkindness, thanks for the suggestions. I think I will start with the pediatrician.


#5

And what sort of air quality is your baby inhaling elsewhere. If you are so concerned sit further back in the Cathedral. My understanding is that a Cathedral is a huge space. If the incense is so strong you can inhale it at the back of the cathedral may I suggest you check out if the altar folk are upright.

We put 1-2 small spoonfuls in our weeny church and it aint that bad


#6

[quote=Melanie01]And what sort of air quality is your baby inhaling elsewhere. If you are so concerned sit further back in the Cathedral. My understanding is that a Cathedral is a huge space. If the incense is so strong you can inhale it at the back of the cathedral may I suggest you check out if the altar folk are upright.

We put 1-2 small spoonfuls in our weeny church and it aint that bad
[/quote]

We’re on the coast and generally have very clean air.

I don’t know if I’d call this cathedral “huge” (nothing at all compared to some I’ve seen), but it isn’t incredibly small, either. The incense was so strong that after standing outside for a few minutes I opened the door and was immediately hit with a forceful gust of air-conditioned incense!


#7

May I suggest that until your baby is a bit older and her little lungs a bit more developed you ask if the other Masses at the Cathedral also have Incense? I know that at my own Parish (the church building being as big or bigger than the very small Cathedrals) we have only one Sunday Mass that always has incense used at it. Due to my own allegies I avoid that Mass and generally speaking the Mass following it too as there is still incense in the air for the first part of Mass and I don’t think that those around me would appreciate the coughing fit it would bring on. Because we have plenty of other Mass times I can attend it is not a problem.

If this isn’t possible then do indeed sit the farthest away you can and you all enjoy it! Going to a Parish that is Orthodox is always a good thing especially if it is closer to you too!

Again, check to see if there are Masses that incense isn’t used at by calling the Parish office, you can explain your concern for your infant if you want.

Brenda V.


#8

Go ahead and check with your pediatrician or Dr or asthma clinic.
However, I do not think there should be a problem.
In India, it is customary to give an infant ( and Mom ) an oil massage, then bathe and then burn incense and put baby down for a nap. I know this was done for us and I remember seeing it done for my cousins. And asthma is much rarer there than in North America.


#9

We have babies in our liturgy all the time and we don’t wimp out when it comes the use of incense. We use it all the time. No problems at all.

Dan L


#10

I visited a Church that used ALOT of incense. I was sitting somewhere in the middle and I honestly couldn’t breathe. I’m no wimp and it was sooooooooo strong. I had to get up & stand in the back. If you feel it’s too strong for your baby, I’d attend a different mass where incense (in such large qualtities) isn’t used.

Regarding SIDS… I’m sure you know this but ALWAYS put your baby to sleep on it’s back and make sure ALL caregivers (grandmas especially who, in their day were told otherwise) know that the baby should be on it’s back.


#11

Carol Marie – I’m with you all the way on the sleeping-on-the-back issue. I had to fight my mother and father on this one when my first baby was born, but I’m resolute. If there’s even the slightest chance of SIDS, I’m going to err on the side of caution. That’s why this incense thing bugs me so much. Yes, perhaps hundreds, even thousands of babies attend Mass where incense is burned, but just as many babies were put to sleep on their stomachs (I know I was) twenty-five years ago without dying. I’m not worried about the majority of cases, I’m worried that my child might - just might - be in the minority.


#12

Look at all the chemicals involved in cigarette smoke! I don’t think incense can compare with the harmful ingredients in cigarettes. Also, think about all the elderly people who are regulars at Mass. I am sure incense is about as pure as smoke can get.


#13

[quote=CatholicSam]Look at all the chemicals involved in cigarette smoke! I don’t think incense can compare with the harmful ingredients in cigarettes. Also, think about all the elderly people who are regulars at Mass. I am sure incense is about as pure as smoke can get.
[/quote]

You may be right about that, Sam. And this is where my pediatrician will have to come in. If it’s truly the chemicals in cigarette smoke that make it so deadly, and not the smoke itself, then I don’t see anything to worry about. But if any and all smoke is harmful to an infant’s lungs, then we’re back to square one.


#14

[quote=Cupofkindness]Why don’t you check with your pediatrician or an asthma clinic? I think National Jewish Hospital in Denver has an asthma hotline. Regardless, I’d stay in the back corner of the church during the incense ceremony. Why risk damaging your precious baby’s tiny, new lungs?
[/quote]

My son was at this hospital…they are excellent!!! Best respitory hospital in the US if I recall. That place is kept so clean I would eat of their floors…no kidding!!! They mopped 3 times in an 8 hour shift at night when we were there for a sleep study!!!


#15

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