When someone becomes a grandparent for the first time, it’s normal for them to want to cover their new grandchild in kisses. But kissing a newborn can actually be harmful if you’re carrying an illness you’re not aware of. No matter how badly your parents or in-laws want to kiss the new baby, it’s not worth risking the health of your child.
How do you tell your grandparents not to kiss the baby? Have a conversation with the grandparents before your baby is born to respectfully request that they use proper hygiene before interacting your baby and avoid kisses on the lips or face because they have a weak immune system at birth. Stay firm with your decision but remind them that it is only temporary.
Read on to learn why it’s important for grandparents to avoid kissing your newborn and how to break the news to them in a kind and loving way.
Is it ok to ask grandparents not to kiss your baby?
You might be wondering how to have this conversation with your child’s grandparents. The best way to tell them not to kiss the baby is to explain the potential risks. They only want to kiss your little one out of love and adoration, and they may not actually realize what all the risks are. It’s important to be firm, and having this conversation before the baby is born is a good way to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with children getting a little dirty and building up their immune system. You certainly can’t protect them from everything and it’s not always a bad thing for children to be exposed to some germs.
However, this isn’t the case for newborns and exposure to germs at this stage can be dangerous.
According to Dr. Sabella, Director of the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, an infant’s immune system doesn’t really start to mature until at least they’re a couple months old. This means that a newborn baby’s immune system is insufficient at fighting off any type of virus.
Knowing the potential risks involved, it’s perfectly okay to ask grandparents not to kiss your baby. We carry plenty of germs around that may not affect us very much, but they could make a newborn baby pretty sick.
Newborn babies also don’t have all of their vaccinations since they’re unable to get vaccines until they’re a few months old. This means that diseases such as whooping cough, measles, and chickenpox are diseases your baby is susceptible to getting.
Premature babies are even more susceptible to infection than full-term babies.If your little one was born prematurely, it’s even more important that the grandparents don’t kiss them or visit when they’re not feeling well. Typically babies receive antibodies from their mother during the third trimester to help protect them from any diseases they haven’t built up immunity for.
Premature babies may miss some of those antibodies since they’re born before the third trimester is over.
What about kissing babies on the head or face?
It’s best for grandparents to stay away from your baby’s face completely when planting a kiss.
If you feel comfortable, just avoiding a kiss on the nose or mouth will still lower the risk of them contracting something significantly. If they must kiss the baby somewhere and you’re okay with letting them, a peck on the cheek or head is less likely to spread germs to your baby.
However, it’s still possible for your baby to catch something even if no one kisses them on the mouth. One of the main risks involved is your baby catching HSV-1, or herpes simplex virus type 1.
According to the World Health Organization, two-thirds of the world population under age 50 have this virus. This virus is contagious, incurable, and It usually presents itself as a cold sore. Anyone who frequently gets cold sores should know not to kiss the baby if they currently have a cold sore. But the real problem is the person with the virus can be contagious even before a cold sore shows up.
Even though most adults with the virus have minimal or mild symptoms, it can cause complications and even be fatal if a newborn becomes infected.
When can your grandparents kiss the baby?
A baby’s immune system won’t be fully developed for a while but during the first six weeks, it’s especially important for you to be careful about germs. When your child is a little older, they’ll need to be exposed to germs to build up their immune system. But the newborn stage is not the time for that, as their immune system is not fully developed.
A baby’s immune system starts to mature when your baby is around three months old, so it may be okay for the grandparents to kiss your baby then. However, until your baby is fully vaccinated and their immune system is fully developed, it’s still important for visitors to stay away when they’re not feeling well.
Even if it seems like just a cold or another minor illness, it’s best to reschedule and have them visit when they’re feeling better.
How to tell your grandparents not to kiss your baby without offending them
One of the hardest parts of not allowing your child’s grandparents to kiss your baby is having to tell them how you feel.
Especially when it comes to older grandparents, they may think you’re overreacting or that it’s no big deal. You may be afraid they’ll get upset or offended when you tell them and if they do get upset, you may feel like you’re making the wrong decision. No matter how they react, you have to do what’s best for your baby’s health. Here are our best tips for telling the grandparents not to kiss your baby without offending them:
When you ask your child’s grandparents not to kiss the baby, make sure they know it’s not personal. It has nothing to do with them being irresponsible or not caring for the baby. There are certain diseases such as the herpes virus, that they could have and not realize it. Many people who have cold sores are actually contagious before the sore appears.
They may be upset at first, but if you ask in a way that’s loving and kind, they will most likely understand where you’re coming from. Once you explain the risks involved and that you have the same rule for everyone, they’ll understand that it’s not personal.
Have a conversation before the baby is born
If you try to have this conversation when your parents show up at the hospital, it may not go over well. Give them time to process the information by telling them before your baby is born. That way, if they do get upset, you’ll give them time to cool off before they actually meet your little one.
If you’re sharing any articles or facts with them, this will also give them time to read the information and understand the risks themselves.
Set rules for when grandparents are sick
Even if they’re feeling well, it’s still important for your child’s grandparents not to kiss them when they’re born. But you also may want to set certain rules for when they’re sick. If they come down with something, they shouldn’t see the baby until they’re completely well.
Something as simple as a cold can hit a newborn baby pretty hard. Let them know that it’s important for them to screen themselves before they come to visit and if they have any symptoms at all, they’ll have to wait until they’re 100 percent better.
Show them the facts
If your child’s grandparents think you’re overreacting, give them some material to read. There are plenty of articles out there with evidence from doctors and other trusted professionals. A newborn contracting something serious such as HSV-1 is rare, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions.
If you’re worried about your parents or in-laws getting offended, show them the facts so they know you’re not just overreacting.
When all else fails, blame it on the doctor
If you’re really concerned about the grandparents getting upset, let them know it’s doctor’s orders. To make you feel more comfortable having the conversation, you can even talk to your doctor about it first. Ask the pediatrician what the risks are and how to avoid your newborn getting sick.
While your parents or in-laws may not believe it’s a real risk if they hear it from you, they’re more likely to respect your wishes if your doctor said it was necessary.