Please Don't Kiss My Baby: a Parent’s Plea to Avoid the Kiss of Death
To that person who loves kissing newborn babies on the mouth...
"Mmmmwah" said an auntie as she kissed my child when he was just two weeks old, smack-bang on his lips. "Oh he's so adorable -- I just want to take a bite out of him and cover him in kisses", she said.
I was a first-time mum then, still in the daze that first-time motherhood imparts, and unsure of what was right and what was wrong when it came to parenting.
So when my newborn got this sloppy kiss, I was very uncomfortable about it, but wasn't confident enough to tell the lady, "please don't kiss my baby on the mouth" -- which I would say to her in a heartbeat if she did it again now (politely, of course).
It's not about being rude, or over-protective of my child. There is a very valid reason as to why people (including a baby's own parents!) should not be kissing babies on their lips, or anywhere on their faces for that matter, as I have now learnt -- and it's all to do with the transmission of germs.
A newborn's immune system is weak. It's still developing, and will continue to do so for years.
At some point down the track, a little one's immune system will be strong enough to deal with a wide range of viruses and bacteria. But this is not the case when he is still an infant and even common germs entering his system could have disastrous repercussions on his health.
Take the case of British mum Claire Henderson whose newborn girl was kissed on the mouth by someone who was also the carrier of the herpes virus (HSV-1). The tiny baby contracted oral herpes (cold sores) -- which can be transmitted to another person via saliva -- and had to be hospitalised for several days before, thankfully, she recovered.
The scary thing is this could happen to any baby, as the herpes virus is often commonly present in adults. The same is true for other common bugs that may be present in adults and even older kids.
So here's my plea to you, if you can't resist kissing little ones on the mouth or their faces.
I know you do it purely out of love and a genuine fondness for babies. But please remember that a baby's immune system is still so fragile, and your kiss could be the kiss of death.
I know and love that you love babies, and I know that they are just so irresistibly cute and your own instincts are screaming out that you kiss and cuddle him now. But rather than kissing him on his mouth, or even elsewhere on his face, why not gently give him a kiss on the top of his head if you absolutely must?
I also understand that you really want to give him a cuddle. But instead of just grabbing him out of his mum's hands, why not ask her first? And do remember to wash or sanitise your hands before you go in for that hug.
A child has the right to good health. And parents have the right of giving their babies the best chance at life and protect them in any way they think is right. It's their responsibility really, and no way should they feel guilty for being cautious about things that could affect their child's health and life.
So if a parent ever tells you not to kiss their baby, know that they do this with their baby's best interests at heart.
I know I speak for many mums and dads when I say, "I hope you understand".
Share with us: how do you handle relatives or friends who kiss your baby on the mouth or face? Do you allow them to do this or do you tell them not to? Let us know in a comment below!