Is It Safe To Kiss Your Baby On The Lips? A Word Of Caution Before You Pucker Up
We all love to shower our affection on babies by kissing them. Be it their tiny feet, tender fingers, soft cheeks or pink lips, almost everything about a baby tempts us to kiss them. However, as much as you would love to, don’t kiss your baby on the mouth for the first two months, and never allow strangers to kiss them at all. The reasons are bound to shock you.
Fatal Herpes Simplex Virus
Recently, a couple had announced the death of their one-month-old baby after she contracted Herpes Simplex virus from a relative who had kissed her on the lips. The relative was probably unaware of the presence of the virus. Commonly associated with cold sores, this virus, though not fatal in adults, is quite contagious and is easily passed through the mouth (1).
A Weak Immune System
Despite early diagnosis, the baby could not survive the viral infection, which resulted in meningitis. This is because a baby’s immune system is still at a developing stage. While the colostrum in breast milk is rich in antibodies, it is insufficient for the immune system to develop completely. A strong immune system takes time to nurture and until then babies should be handled with great care and any actions, including kissing, that cause infections and weaken their immunity, should be avoided.
Food allergies are common, especially of seafood and nuts, like peanuts or cashews, etc. The only food that infants are exposed to for the first 6 months is either breastmilk or formula, which is hardly sufficient to gauge their allergies. The saliva of adults contains particles of food that they’ve eaten. If it is a food like peanuts, for instance, then its components continue to linger in the mouth, at times even after brushing (2). When such adults kiss babies on lips, their saliva may trigger an outbreak of allergy, which could also be fatal.
When guests come calling to see the newborn, it is likely they will wear make-up and cosmetics. While kissing, some of the chemicals in the cosmetics, like lipstick, may stay on on the baby’s tender skin and lips, which may later trigger an allergic reaction to chemicals.
Absence Of Vaccination
Although new born babies are vaccinated for jaundice and initial infections, the vaccine may require several doses to be completely effective. In absence of vaccination, the chances of the baby contracting fatal disease through direct human contact is high.
The baby’s digestive system is gentle enough to only process milk or formula up to 6 months. Even then, it is yet to fully develop. At such a stage, if the baby accidentally injests infected adult saliva, it may lead to stomach infection. This could lead to excessive vomiting or diarrhea, which could dehydrate the baby. In case of dehydration, IV fluids may be required, which could again be painful for the baby.