The joy of your newborn being handed over to you is simply indescribable. As a mom, you naturally hold your baby and plant a kiss on the little one. Although it may be difficult to resist kissing your baby’s soft and velvety cheeks, doing so could potentially harm their health. The reason behind this is that newborns are susceptible to diseases due to their lack of full immune system development, warn experts.
According to Dr Mxolisi Xulu from Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, kissing babies directly on their skin, on their mouths, or on their faces may lead to health conditions such as respiratory cases, skin problems, allergies, flu, and contamination of germs.
Xulu explains that tender babies are highly sensitive to diseases due to their undeveloped immune systems.
So how do mothers handle it when friends and relatives want to kiss their young ones?
Education and being polite
Vuyokazi Ntshokoma, a mother from Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, says it can be challenging to refuse people who want to kiss a newborn baby.
According to Ntshokoma, it is crucial to educate people about these issues, even though it may seem like you are fabricating stories. This is because these topics are not commonly discussed in society.
“I can only address the issue by explaining why I prefer not to have my babies kissed.”
She acknowledges that it may come across as rude to others, particularly if they are hearing it for the first time, but she still advises them to stay away from doing it in the future.
“When you explain that a baby can contract infections from being kissed, some people interpret it as if you are implying that they are carriers of disease. Although it may be difficult to address, it is crucial for the well-being of the baby,” she says.
Be shrewd in your approach!
Sesethu Soga, a mother of two girls from Burgundy Estate, Cape Town, explains the complicated processes involved in addressing the issue.
According to Soga, people may kiss a baby due to the baby’s cute appearance, even if it is not their intention to do so.
“A good option is to employ personalised baby clothing featuring messages such as ‘Please wash your hands before handling me’ or ‘I have an allergy to kissing.’ Telling others not to kiss your kid may wind up making unnecessary enemies; some people are particularly sensitive to no, no matter how hard you explain it,” she says.
“You may be labelled an arrogant person at times. When addressing the issue mothers needs to be mentally fit, because it’s not easy at all.”
The dangers of kissing babies
Xulu recommends that it is crucial for everyone to understand the risks associated with kissing newborns. Even mothers should refrain from kissing their infants in the early stages.
He adds that respiratory viruses may cause serious and potentially fatal conditions that can be passed through physical contact or the passing of infected respiratory droplets via cough or sneeze.
Within the first few months of life, babies are at their most vulnerable stage. Developing immune systems must work hard to fight off infection.
Prevention is better than cure
It is important to sanitise before carrying a baby, especially if the mother has been working outside and performing tasks such as sweeping and carrying objects.
Xulu says the dirt and germs we carry from clothes to hands when carrying babies can easily be transferred through the baby’s nose, mouth, and skin and cause serious health challenges.
Xulu also recommends that babies need to be vaccinated to avoid such health challenges, which may cause death if they are avoided.
Household cleaning and disinfecting for keeping baby healthy
While it is impossible to completely shield your infant from every germ that exists in the environment, it is possible to minimise the frequency of their illnesses.
Here are some recommendations from Lifebuoy to safeguard your child from harmful microbes:
- Wash your hands before holding them.
- For the first four to six weeks, try to steer clear of crowded places such as the shopping mall as newborns pick up bugs easily when they are exposed to a lot of people in a confined space.
- Sterilise baby bottles through boiling to eliminate harmful germs.
- Wash your baby’s clothes separately and choose a detergent or softener with a gentler formula.
- Keep your house clean.
- Don’t let your pet dog or cat lick his face or hands for the first few months, and wash his hands after he has played with a pet.
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