It’s no secret that new moms love showering their babies with kisses. Whether it’s on their tiny hands, chubby cheeks, or forehead, moms can’t seem to get enough of planting smooches on their little ones. But why exactly are moms so kiss-happy?
The Power of Oxytocin
One of the main reasons moms kiss their babies so frequently is due to oxytocin, known as the “love hormone.” When a mother kisses her baby, oxytocin is released, promoting bonding, affection, and closeness. This hormone plays a huge role right after birth, helping establish the mother-child connection and facilitating breastfeeding.
Research has shown that a mother’s oxytocin levels continue to spike when interacting with her baby through cuddling, touching, and of course – kissing. The more physical contact between mom and baby, the more oxytocin is released. Higher levels of oxytocin result in stronger maternal behaviors and motivation to care for the infant.
Some studies have even found that the oxytocin received from frequent kissing can benefit babies too. The “love hormone” helps infants feel calm and secure. It may also aid in their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Expression of Love
Another reason moms kiss their babies so often is simply to express love and affection. A kiss is a universal sign of care, comfort, and adoration. When moms shower their babies with kisses, they are non-verbally communicating “I love you” and “you are so precious to me.”
For mothers, kissing their baby is an instinctual way to strengthen their bond and let their little one know just how much they are cherished. The countless smooches throughout the day act as constant reminders of a mother’s unconditional love.
Kissing a baby is also an effective soothing technique for many moms. A light kiss on the forehead or cheeks can help calm a fussy or crying infant. The gentle physical touch releases oxytocin to promote relaxation. Some studies suggest a correlation between frequent motherly kisses and reduced crying or improved sleep patterns in babies.
When baby is upset, a kiss is sometimes all it takes for mom to provide comfort and reassurance. The simple act of kissing can be more soothing than rocking, singing, or any other common calming method.
Savoring Every Moment
For first-time moms especially, there is an urge to savor every single moment with their new baby. Time seems to move extra quickly during the newborn phase. Many moms kiss their babies frequently because they want to cherish every second of their baby’s first days, weeks, and months of life.
A kiss allows moms to slow down and be fully present in the moment with their infant. No matter how sleep-deprived or busy a mom is, she’ll always make time for kissing her baby’s angelic face because deep down she knows how quickly this precious period passes.
On a primal level, kissing babies is simply an innate natural instinct for mothers. The strong biological drive to provide newborns with love and affection through physical touch, including kissing, supports bonding and survival.
Even adoption or surrogate mothers who did not carry the baby in pregnancy experience an overwhelming urge to shower the infant with kisses from the moment they first hold them. The desire to kiss a baby comes from deep within, beginning as an unconscious impulse then turning into a frequent display of maternal love.
Fascinatingly, some research indicates that a mom’s kisses impact a baby’s immune system. When a mother’s lips touch her infant’s skin, dormant microbes are exchanged. These maternal microbes then take up residence in baby’s gut and mouth and help establish diverse communities of bacteria.
This transfer of healthy microorganisms can influence the development of the infant’s microbiome and immune function. Exposure to mom’s microbiome is thought to provide protection against allergies, asthma, and even obesity as baby grows.
A baby’s senses of touch, sight, sound, and smell are still developing after birth. When a mom kisses her infant, all four senses are stimulated at once through lip contact, eye gazing, smooching sounds, and the motherly scent.
Kissing exposes babies to positive multisensory experiences important for brain development. The combination of stimulation engages the infant’s attention and enhances early learning.
Keeps Babies Close
Many moms choose to frequently kiss their babies instead of constantly handing them off. A kiss allows mom to interact with baby without having to disrupt the calm, secure position in her arms. Kissing becomes a convenient way to show affection while keeping baby happily snuggled close.
Mothers don’t have to put baby down just to connect. A cheek kiss, nose kiss, or top-of-the-head kiss enables mom to get her “baby fix” while maintaining the cuddle time newborns need.
How Often Do Moms Kiss Their Babies?
Just how kiss-crazy are new moms? One study observed moms interacting with their 1-year-olds in 15-minute periods. Researchers found that on average, moms kissed their babies more than twice per minute or about 300 times per day!
Another study tracked kissing frequency for one week in mothers with babies 3 months old or younger. On average, moms kissed their infants over 1400 times across the 7 days. That comes out to about 200 smooches per day!
While every mother-baby pair will have different kiss totals, these studies illustrate just how often moms naturally feel compelled to plant kisses.
Should Moms Be Concerned About Germs?
With all those kisses flying, some new moms worry if they might be exposing their baby to too many germs. However, there is no evidence that a mom’s kisses impact a newborn’s immune system negatively. To the contrary, research suggests mom’s kiss may provide early immune protection as covered previously.
Of course, moms with active contagious infections like cold sores should avoid mouth-to-mouth kisses until healed. Otherwise, moms can feel reassured that their kisses provide essential love, comfort, and possibly immune benefits without any cause for germ concern.
Moms kiss their babies frequently for a multitude of reasons. Kissing releases oxytocin to strengthen bonding, provides comfort and calmness, allows moms to savor new baby moments, satisfies instinctual drives, and stimulates developmental senses. For many moms, kissing their baby comes as naturally as breathing.
While the number varies, the hundreds of kisses moms give daily in the newborn period clearly come straight from a heart overflowing with love. Those sweet baby kisses may just be the best part of motherhood.