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New Dad Sparks Drama After Insisting His Father Can’t Hold Baby Due To Cold Sore On His Lip

Grandpa holding baby
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

When parents bring home the newest edition to their family, it’s reasonable to expect that they are going to be as careful as possible when caring for their child.

But loved ones may take it personally if the parents’ care of their child impacts their ability to visit with the baby, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor guywhois0nline was looking forward to her parents visiting, up until she noticed that her father had a cold sore on his lip.

When his feelings were hurt that she didn’t let him hold his grandchildren, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was being too careful.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my dad he can’t hold my newborn?”

The OP was worried about a cold sore when her father first arrived to meet her newborn.

“My parents are visiting this weekend to meet our newborn baby.”

“They drove over six hours and have been excitedly calling and texting me for days before this trip, telling me how much they can’t wait to be here.”

“When they arrived yesterday, my dad had a bump starting to form on his lip.”

“I know he gets cold sores so I ask if that was one.”

“He responded that it was just a zit so I dropped it.”

When his condition worsened, the OP became more uncomfortable.

“Today he came over with an open cold sore and asked if he would get a chance to nap with the newborn on his chest.”

“I told him that with the cold sore, I would not allow it.”

“He dejectedly sighed that it was okay.”

“Shortly after, my toddler ran to his arms to be picked up, to which I told my dad that I wasn’t comfortable with him holding her, either.”

There were immediate consequences.

“While she wailed for him to pick her up, he stated that he was going to step outside for a minute while wiping tears away from his face.”

“He walked down the driveway and has been gone for close to four hours and isn’t answering his phone.”

“My mom also seems upset with me.”

“Am I the a**hole for telling my dad he can’t hold my children while he has an open cold sore?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some supported the OP’s choice to be careful.

“NTA. Cold sores (especially around the mouth) are often caused by herpes simplex virus. This is not the same as sexually transmitted herpes but could be dangerous for kids and especially babies.”

“Look at this info: ‘In the vast majority of children, cold sores are annoying and painful but don’t cause complications or serious consequences. In rare cases, the herpes simplex virus can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). This is a serious illness and needs to be treated right away. It can lead to long-term problems of the brain.'”

“It continues: ‘Cold sores in a newborn baby can cause serious illness and death. This may be the case even when treated with medicine.'”

“You did the right thing not allowing your dad to hold your kids during the flare-up. You do need to explain the reasoning to your parents and ask them to read up on the risk. It does not mean your dad can not touch the kids, he just needs to be careful during flare-ups…” – ItIsNotAManual1984

“My mother is a nurse in a children’s hospital and has seen children dying because of herpes virus more than once. These were healthy children until they got that virus.”

“My FIL (Father-in-Law) almost did the same until I had my spouse explain that his grandchild could die.” – Polythepony1993

“One of the infants at the daycare I work at has this and it seems like it is making both the child’s and their parents’ lives very difficult in a variety of ways. They are managing the best they can, but poor buddy will always need help to achieve a good standard of life.”

“OP, you are NTA, protecting your child from disease is part of a parent’s job. Explain the risks to your father and put some solid boundaries in place on physical contact while he has an outbreak and hopefully, he’ll understand.” – Kittikatt598

“When we were kids, my mom avoided us like the plague when she got cold sores. My dad was not an active parent, but she’d accept him half-a**ing it until her lesions weren’t contagious to prevent us from getting it.”

“Her kids understood, my dad was supportive, and to this day, all four of her grown children have never gotten a cold sore. I’m super glad she treated it as seriously as she did.” – RogueBicycle

“My biodad kissed my sister on the lips (not weird in our family) when she was very young and he had an open cold sore. A couple of weeks later, she breaks out with one. She’s had them on and off her whole life since. When you get them as an adult, it’s much easier to handle emotionally. As a kid with them, it was devastating to my sister.”

“NTA. It’s not worth the risk to the kid just to make your father happy for however long they’re visiting. Also, is he not taking Valtrex?” – ProfessorShameless

“Dude. There is no NEED for Grandpa to hold the kids right now and risk exposing them to the herpes simplex virus, which as others have mentioned, can be fatal for a newborn.”

“HSV is HIGHLY contagious. Mom did the right thing, and Grandpa needs to be understanding. Masks or no masks, NTA. Jeez. No one is entitled to your children. People need to learn to have more respect for mothers.” – stepascope

Others supported the OP but also understood the grandfather’s feelings.

“My mom is 70. She still gets cold sores a few times a year, because an adult with a cold sore kissed her when she was a toddler. Her mom wouldn’t stop them because it would have been rude. Literally, one kiss created an ongoing medical issue for almost 70 years now.”

“I understand why Grandpa is sad. I’d probably be sad too. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the right call.”

“There are better treatment and prevention options for cold sores these days, so encourage your dad to talk to a doctor if he hasn’t done that recently. And work together to find other ways he can safely interact with the kiddos this trip.” – ka-ka-ka-katie1123


“You are 100% correct to protect children from the virus. It can be deadly for newborns.”

“But he’s not wrong for being sad that it happened. Obviously, he didn’t have control over a flare-up.”

“I try to make everyone feel better by seeing if another time soon will work for a visit. And I’d encourage your mother to encourage him to get some maintenance treatment so that it’s not an issue next time.” – PracticalPrimrose

“NAH. He’s not wrong to be upset, and depending on how he contracted the cold sores to begin with he could be dealing with some internal issues. You’re also not wrong for protecting your kids.”

“I’d never had a cold sore in my life until I dated my ex, and that relationship has given me several issues that I still work through in therapy. That relationship ended almost 15 years ago!”

“My partner has a four-month-old. When he was about three weeks old, I got a massive cold sore. I was so upset and so paranoid. I wore a mask when I was feeding him and a few times if his hand brushed against my face anywhere, I would wash his hands multiple times with soap and the hottest water that was safe to wash him with.”

“Luckily it worked but that week was so hard. I also can’t kiss my partner at all when I get cold sores, and it hurts even more to know that a relationship I shouldn’t have ever committed to, will affect my relationship with the love of my life forever.” – morbid_n_creepifying


“Another solution could have been he wears a mask and washes his hand thoroughly. My family and I have had cold sores my whole life, and they can be transmitted even if there isn’t an active flareup (so there’s always a risk no matter what). But the only way for an active flare-up to be transmitted is by the saliva/bodily fluid of the infected.”

“But I totally understand OP not wanting to risk the newborn’s exposure. And in the same breath, I can be totally sympathetic to the dad as cold sores always show up and ruin great moments.” – geedubolyou

“When I was a brand new parent, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with him holding the newborn, but I don’t know why he couldn’t have held the older child. If he washed his hands and didn’t kiss the older one or let them touch his face, I don’t see how there would be much risk.”

“It sounds super heartbreaking for him to come all this way and then not be able to hold the baby (this was reasonable and he understood) but then not only can he not hold the older child, but they have also come up to him, excited to see him and are now distraught because he can’t touch them (which they don’t understand).”

“So many things can be solved by good hand washing and not touching your face…” – IamtheRealDill

“NTA, but there’s an easy solution: give him an N95 mask, make sure he has it on properly, and have him wash his hands and arms thoroughly after he puts the mask on. If you want to be extra safe, make him change his shirt after he puts on the mask and washes up.”

“Then let him hold the baby.”

“I am not a doctor, but I am a person who takes immune suppressants every day (organ transplant) and this works for me. Extra note: if you don’t feel like that’s safe, then keep your baby safe in the way you feel best. This is only a suggestion.” – WowsrsBowsrsTrousrs

The subReddit could totally understand the concern the OP had for her children, and they also could understand why her father felt hurt during their most recent visit.

Whether they disagreed was in how the OP handled the situation. Some felt she could not be too careful, especially with a newborn, but others thought there were safety precautions that could have made everyone feel happy and comfortable.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.