Who doesn’t love to hug on, kiss on, and squeeze on a baby? I have a hard enough time trying to get strangers to keep their distance, never mind family members! During the winter months when cold and flu season is in full effect, it’s easy to tell somebody to politely back away from your child. But there are other times like when that over-affectionate aunt, who swears she is germ free, is coming at your little one like a freight train. Here’s the problem: do we ever really know how “germ free” somebody’s affectionate kiss might be?
I read an article about a one-week-old baby who was on life support caused by the herpes virus. The very same virus that is merely a cold sore, that may or may not have obvious symptoms, in adults. According to the World Health Organization, herpes infections are most contagious when symptoms are present, but can still be transmitted to others in the absence of symptoms.
The article explained that somebody can touch your baby, and then your baby touches their mouth with their hand to pass it along, which set my mom neuroses into high gear. Unless you never plan to leave the house or have any visitors, it is impossible to ensure your child never comes in contact with somebody that has the virus. But you can still take other preventative measures.
These are my two simple rules for kissing my baby:
- First and foremost, always wash your hands. I’m not shy about asking people to do so and if I can wash my own hands, they can wash theirs.
- Especially for babies under 6 months, never ever give them a kiss on the mouth or near the eyes. Considering the majority of people have oral herpes, (cold sores) and a small baby’s immune system is not equipped to handle it, tell people it’s OK to give your baby a kiss on the head if they are determined to smooch them.
Although small babies are the ones that are most at risk, it’s also important to protect your toddler as much as you can, as the virus can spread to the eyes. If you see that they have a cold sore, try to prevent them from scratching at it. When they do have a flare-up, make sure they aren’t sharing cups, utensils, towels, toothpaste, or anything else with siblings and be especially mindful if you have a baby under 6 months of age.
Lisa is a baby-wearing, breastfeeding, cloth diapering mama that is no longer shy about setting ground rules to protect her baby’s health.