Sweet rosebud lips, lush lashes, and sleepy sighs. How can you resist? Don’t! Pucker up and kiss that little face!
You already know that, by babywearing your little one, you’re providing your baby with an amazing gift – the gift of being close to you, to hearing your heart, to warmth, and to your kisses!
When your baby is born, it is important to be extremely vigilant about his or her placement. Babies are particularly vulnerable for the first 4 months; remember that the intent of a baby carrier is to help facilitate the same positioning that your baby would have while in your arms, so it is important to keep your baby close enough to kiss, in an upright position, with chin off of his chest. Make sure that there is enough space between your little one’s chin and chest to put 1-2 adult fingers, in order to protect his or her delicate airway. Remain attuned to your little one – check on him or her often! – and make sure to reposition as needed to ensure optimal positioning of your baby.
Positioning your newborn safely is most important, but did you know that your actual kisses are important too? Kissing has been shown to have many health and psychological benefits!
Among them, a study published by Hendrie and Bower in the research journal Medical Hypotheses, posited that kissing is a biological behavior which has developed evolutionarily and which helps boost immunity and control exposure to infection by allowing mothers to control the time and degree of inoculation to illness that could be dangerous to an unborn child. While this study specifically focused on intimate kissing as a biological behavior, it is a good indicator of one way that kissing might put us all at an advantage.
Kissing also benefits caregivers and babies alike in the moment. The 2012 feature “Affairs of the Lips” in Scientific American highlighted some of the benefits, one of which was suggested by a study conducted by Lafayette College psychologist Wendy Hill and her student Carey A. Wilson and shared at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting in 2007. In this study, Hill and Wilson found a link between kissing and decreasing cortisol levels, suggesting that kissing can actually decrease stress, which in turn, can help keep you healthier! They also found, in some caregivers, kissing increases oxytocin (a hormone and neurotransmitter often called the “love hormone“).
And as for caregiver/baby specific benefits? According to Dr. Lauren Sompayrac, retired research professor at the University of Colorado and author of the immunology book How the Immune System Works, “when a mother kisses her baby, she ‘samples’ those pathogens that are on the baby’s face. Those are ones that the baby is about to ingest. These samples are taken up by the mother’s secondary lymphoid organs like the tonsils, and memory B cells specific for those pathogens are re-stimulated. These B cells then migrate to the mother’s breasts where they produce just those antibodies that the baby needs.” A breastfeeding mother is able to use her kisses to create a milk that is most appropriately suited to support her baby.
Kissing is great for your emotional heart, your physical heart, and the heart you carry outside of your body, and keeps your babyworn baby safe!
So what does “close enough to kiss” look like?
It looks like…
Keeping your little one close enough to kiss makes sense for keeping both you and your baby safe and happy, and just feels good. So snuggle in, soak in those moments of love, and hold your baby high and close, knowing your kisses are doing a world of good!