parent opinion

Zoe Marshall writes: "Please, please keep your mouth and hands away from my baby."

Whilst I was pregnant I read an article that tragically mentioned a newborn baby dying from being kissed on the lips. I was horrified. I am a germaphobe but I had no idea a kiss could be deadly.

I was adamant that when I had a baby no one that hadn’t had a whooping cough vaccine, hand sanitised and was given a clean bill of health was even allowed to enter the hospital room I was in. Oh also – no perfume, too stimulating for a new babies senses, I was told.

My neurosis turned up 15 notches when I gave birth and they haven’t simmered down yet.

When we got out of hospital and settled back at home, I still made sure for the next few months the above applied. Eventually we went and visited friends who I adore. Whom all had kids. It was so nice to arrive hand over the baby and have a glass of wine. It had been months.

LISTEN: Zoe Marshall shares her advice for dealing with strangers on Mamamia’s podcast for new parents, The Baby Bubble.

But then I caught something in the corner of my eye. Something shocking. Now look, I try really hard to hide my neurosis. I don’t want to be over bearing or controlling but what I saw stunned me.

This friend was kissing my baby on the mouth. Full on smooches. I hadn’t even done this yet and there they were non stop on the lips! I didn’t know what to do. I was in such shock. I kind of shimmied my way in and pretended he needed a feed. I just had to get him away from those puckering lips.

I waited anxiously over the next couple of days to see if he may have gotten sick. But of course he was fine, but it made me think. Is that normal to kiss other peoples babies on the lips? Am I the odd one out? This person wasn’t family. We are friends but not super close and if someone should be smooching, it is me!

I would never kiss any baby on the mouth. I don’t even ask friends who are new mums if I can have a hold. I wait for them to offer. It’s such a fragile stage. For both mum and baby.


Then wait for it. You start going out in public with your beautiful new baby. Strangers want to touch your baby. Of course they do. Some will even bend down into the pram and touch the babies face.

I was uncomfortable with this. Where had those hands been. Do we have a right as parents to politely brush their hand away? Say “please don’t touch my baby” or do we have to do that thing we do in public places to make everyone feel comfortable and put ourselves and our needs behind us.

The thing is little babies constantly have their hands in their mouths. If a stranger touches their hand and then the babies have their hands in their mouths, isn’t that just like sucking on a stranger’s finger? Don’t get me started on that point!

Keep your hands out of babies’ mouths. They will want to suck your fingers (they want to suck anything) but if you are not a family member with clean hands, keep those thangs away.

Zoe Marshall and Sean Szeps are here to bring the mother’s (and father’s) group to your ears.

Fox recently went through an open mouth kissing phase. It didn’t matter who you were. he was going in for a pash. Obviously I struggled with this.

We were holidaying in Fiji and the lovely wait staff would take Fox whilst Benji and I ate dinner. Fox wouldn’t stop the kissing. The girls and boys loved it! I didn’t know what to do. I just had to say loudly “No Fox not on the mouth” so whoever was coping a pash could tell I was a crazy control freak and would hopefully stop.

One morning at breakfast he came back with red lipstick on his mouth. Red lipstick. I’m not going around town pashing peoples faces off (well not anymore). Everyone says it’s good for the immunity. Maybe it is.

Fox also licks the ground at home and kisses the dogs. I feel like that’s enough to build up a strong immune system. So if you are reading this, pease, please keep your mouths and fingers away from little babies mouths unless they’re your own.

How do you feel about strangers kissing your baby on the lips? Tell us in the comments section below. 

To hear me and my The Baby Bubble co-host, Sean Szeps talk more about my thoughts on dealing with strangers, listen to the fourth episode of The Baby Bubble podcast below. Get it in your ears.

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