Radio frequency identification (RFID) is an innovative technology currently applied in a large number of industrial and consumer applications. The spread of RFID technology does not correspond to a parallel increase in studies on its possible impact on health in terms of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. The aim of this paper is to estimate, by computational techniques, the EMF generated by passive RFID systems for mother–newborn identity reconfirmation. The computation was performed on realistic models of newborn and mother for three different reader positions. The compliance with EMF exposure guidelines was investigated as a function of the change in reader–tag specifications (magnetic field threshold and maximum distance of the reader to awake the tag) and time of use of the reader close to the body. The results show that attention should be paid to the identification of the optimal reader–tag technical specifications to be used in this type of application. That should be done by an accurate exposure assessment investigation, in particular for newborn exposure. The need to reduce the exposure time as much as possible indicates the importance of specific training on the practical applications of the RFID (DATALOGIC J-series, Bologna, Italy) device. Bioelectromagnetics 32:408–416, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.