Kissing a Baby – Is It Harmful for Your Child?

Kissing a Baby – Is It Harmful for Your Child?

We are instantly overwhelmed and filled with affection when we see a little baby wrapped up all cosy and cuddly. We cannot help but kiss and snuggle with the newborn baby. We all are familiar with the feeling and have been doing so for ages. Although we do it purely out of love, it has been found that we may be unintentionally harming the baby by doing so. It has been found that kissing a baby on the lips or closer to the mouth can spread certain conditions, some harmless and some dangerous for a newborn. However, not just kissing the baby on or near the lips could pose a problem. Kissing the baby on his hands or other body parts, which will then come in contact with his mouth, is equally troublesome.

Is It Fine to Kiss a Newborn?

We need to realise that the health and safety of newborns should always come first. Newborns have a weak immune system, which makes them more susceptible to infections. Therefore, taking precautions when interacting with them is crucial, including kissing them.

According to a Harvard-MIT study, babies view indications of intimacy through kissing, sharing utensils, and sharing food. It’s also worth noting that some parents may have different preferences regarding kissing their newborn, so it’s important to ask for their permission before doing so. Studies have shown mothers who demonstrate affection to their infants tend to raise more resilient and less stressed children.

That being said, there are ways to show affection to a newborn through kissing safely. Practising good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly before holding the baby, is important. Additionally, it’s advisable to avoid kissing the baby’s face or hands, which are more prone to contact with germs. Some cultures view kissing babies as a symbol of love and bonding, and it’s perfectly fine to do so within their cultural norms. However, it’s essential to prioritise the baby’s health and safety above all else.  It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional or ask the parents for guidance when in doubt.

Risks of Kissing a Newborn

Affection is essential for the proper growth and development of the baby. Parents kissing their baby is normal, but at the same time, the parent must safeguard the baby from contracting hazardous infections. One of the key points you should consider is not letting anyone kiss your baby on or near the mouth, specifically during the initial three months of birth. The following are a few conditions that could be triggered in your baby when kissed by someone infected or who wears/eats something the baby is allergic to.

1. Cold Sores

Also known as fever blisters or oral herpes, your baby can be afflicted with this condition when kissed by an adult with a cold sore. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV 1) and starts off as a small blister around the lips or mouth. However, it can also spread to other parts of the face, such as the nose, cheeks, and chin. The issue is that once the virus enters the body, it stays for life. While some children may never have a cold sore again, others may suffer multiple outbreaks of the same in the future. Therefore, kissing the baby (even on other parts of their body, like their hands) should be completely avoided if the person doing so has a cold sore.

2. Respiratory Illness Due to Exposure to RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)

RSV leads to a condition where a baby’s lungs get infected, making breathing difficult. Besides, it’s highly contagious, making it quite difficult to prevent young kids from getting infected. If the infected child or adult approaches and kisses your baby, the virus will pass on to the baby. In babies, the air tubes for breathing are of tiny size and very thin, so inflammation caused by infection can prove dangerous, especially in premature babies with a much weaker immune system than their peers born at term.

3. Food Allergies

Many kids and adults face allergies resulting from some or the other food. People may be unaware of gluten in their lipstick, which may harm a child with celiac disease. It is best to discourage people from kissing on or near the baby’s lips because you can never be sure what food the person might have consumed, pieces of which could still be lingering in their mouth.

4. Heightened Risk of Cancer Due to Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Skincare products contain chemicals that help men and women look young and fresh. Such products may contain parabens, formaldehyde, artificial colours, etc. These are considered endocrine interrupters and have even been found to be associated with cancer risks. Hence, people who use such products should avoid kissing their babies. This way, you can safeguard your baby from exposure to cosmetics containing such toxic chemicals.

5. ‘Kissing Disease’

‘Kissing Disease’ is a nickname given to the term ‘mononucleosis’, an infection which is passed through saliva, often through kissing. Although it is known to occur more commonly among teenagers and adults, it can affect infants too. In infants and children, the condition results in a runny nose or cranky behaviour and may also lead to respiratory problems in rare cases. It is a viral disease and does not have any treatment. The child must bear with the illness until his immune system helps eliminate the infection. It’s contagious and can easily pass on to other kids and adults.

Cranky baby

6. Cavities

We all know that not maintaining oral hygiene can lead to cavities in the teeth. A lesser-known fact is that the kisses showered on a baby may also lead to cavities in the child’s teeth. The bacteria called streptococcus mutants are present in one’s saliva, which can lead to cavities in tiny teeth when passed on to the child. Someone may unintentionally pass on the germs to your child through a kiss or while sharing food with the baby. To be safer, you (or anyone feeding the baby) should ensure you don’t spray saliva while blowing on food to make it cool enough for him to eat.

7. Weakened Immune System

Babies are most vulnerable to illnesses during their initial few months when their gut bacteria are still developing. For this reason, any kid or adult who wishes to come in contact with your baby has to ensure that they have washed their hands well and do not have any signs of illness. There may be cases where an adult or child, unaware of their illness, comes and kisses the baby. In such cases, the baby gets exposed to germs and has to fight it with weak immunity.

Also, babies start getting vaccinations from birth until a certain age and require several doses to make the vaccine effective in their bodies. Hence for the initial few months, their body has negligible immunity and is highly sensitive to germs. You should strictly watch over your child and ensure his safety from diseases.

8. Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease usually occurs in children at some point in their childhood and is marked by sores which pop up all over the child’s body and mouth. It can be spread through actions of close contact, which includes kissing. Children feel tired, have a sore throat and get cranky in such conditions. They even suffer from fever. You should ensure that any infected adult or child does not come in close contact with your baby or kiss him, even on his little hands.

Are There Any Symptoms Parents Should Watch Out?

Do babies like kisses? Maybe yes, maybe not. However, we can’t ignore that kissing a newborn can potentially transmit infections or germs. So even if your baby seemingly enjoys those poochies, it may not be in their best interest. It gets trickier as the symptoms to watch out for in babies being kissed are similar to the general symptoms parents should monitor for their newborns. If you find your baby showing any of these 10 symptoms after being kissed, immediately consult your doctor:

  • Fever: A newborn may develop a fever after being kissed by someone with an infection. If you find someone kissing baby on lips, you should be more careful, as infections spread faster through the mouth.
  • Coughing or Wheezing: A respiratory infection can cause coughing or wheezing, which may be transmitted through kissing.
  • Runny Nose or Congestion: If the person kissing the baby has a cold or the flu, they can pass the virus to the baby.
  • Skin Rash: Some viruses, such as herpes simplex, can cause a skin rash and be transmitted through kissing.
  • Sore Throat: A person with a sore throat can potentially spread the infection through kissing.
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swollen lymph nodes may indicate an underlying infection.
  • Diarrhoea: A baby may develop diarrhoea by swallowing germs or viruses through kissing.
  • Vomiting: If a baby ingests germs or viruses through kissing, they may experience vomiting.
  • Difficulty Breathing: Infections or illnesses transmitted through kissing can cause difficulty breathing in newborns.
  • Fatigue: A baby may become lethargic or fatigued if they are fighting off an infection.

Parents need to be cautious and monitor for any potential symptoms in their newborns, especially if they’ve been kissed by someone who may be sick. If parents notice any concerning symptoms, they should seek medical attention promptly to ensure the baby’s health and safety.

Precautions to Take While Kissing Your Baby

Each part of the human body is inhabited by bacteria and viruses, which are mostly harmless to healthy adults but can affect newborns. This is because the immune system of newborn babies is not as well developed or strong as compared to that of adults. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you take the precautions below while cuddling or kissing your baby and urge others to do the same.

  • Be regular in maintaining your personal and oral hygiene.
  • Maintain the baby’s oral hygiene, as he will be very salivating.
  • Remember to wash your hands before you attend to your baby.
  • Regularly bathe your baby.
  • Use wipes to keep your baby’s mouth and face fresh.
  • Educate your friends, family and relatives on these precautions for the baby’s safety.
  • Place baby utensils and hygiene products separate from the belongings of others in the house.
  • Many unexpected places and things in the house could be loaded with germs. It is best to avoid direct contact with the baby immediately after touching the TV remote, dish towels, mobile phones, and handbags.
  • People with any infection or the potential to contract infections should stay away from the baby.
  • People with an ongoing respiratory condition like a common cold, influenza or undiagnosed chronic cough, chicken pox or intestinal illness should avoid kissing the baby.

Happy mom and baby


1. Can I Kiss a Newborn on the Head and Lips?

While it’s common to show affection to a newborn through kissing, it’s important to prioritise the baby’s health and safety. Newborns have a weak immune system and are more susceptible to infections, so it’s best to practice good hygiene and avoid kissing them on the face or hands, which are more prone to come into contact with germs.

2. What Does Kissing a Newborn Baby Do for Them?

Kissing a newborn can be a way to show affection and bond with the baby. Kissing newborns’ IQ levels and immune systems can boost their IQ levels. Parents must kiss their infants with precaution as it provides them warmth and love.

3. Can Kissing Cause Meningitis in Babies?

Although rare, meningitis can be transmitted through close contact, including kissing. Meningitis is a serious infection that can be life-threatening, especially in newborns. Therefore, it’s important to practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with a newborn if you have symptoms of illness.

4. How Can I Tell People Not to Kiss My Baby?

It’s important to communicate clearly with friends and family about your preferences for interacting with your newborn. You can politely ask them to avoid kissing the baby on the face or hands or to wait to interact with the baby if they’re sick or have a cold sore. It’s important to prioritise the baby’s health and safety above all else; most people will respect your wishes.

The risks of kissing infants are serious, and kissing your baby on the lips worsens things. However, this does not mean that kissing your baby is not an option. Considering the abovementioned precautions, you can snuggle with your baby to your heart’s content!


1. Maselko. J, Kubzansky. L, Lipsitt. L, Buka. SL; Mother’s affection at 8 months predicts emotional distress in adulthood; BMJ;

2. Singh. S; Can Establishment of Human Microbiome be Customized After Birth with Local Traditions of First Feed and Intimate Kissing?; PubMed Central;; July 2015

3. Snake. S; Kissing a Baby on Lips: Risk Factors and Precautions to Take; emedihealth;; November 2022

4. When babies see people swap spit, they know what’s what; Harvard;

5. The Power of Kisses; Greater Good magazine;

Also Read:

Baby Skin Care Tips
Is It Safe To Put Baby Lotion On Babies?
Adorable Reasons to Cuddle your Newborn
How Infants Use Touch to Explore Their New World

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