We all have our own way of raising our kids. Someone likes to keep them under a glass bell while others let kids roam wild. Exposure to germs has its positive and negative sides. It will work a child’s immune system up and get it “ready” for the challenges ahead. On the other hand, kids are far more susceptible to infections and ailments than us so exposing your kid to germs isn’t exactly a great idea.
Ask any parent if they would allow their children to play in the dirt and they’ll probably think you’re crazy. Dirt is full of germs and God knows what else, so it’s not exactly a great playground for children. However, a recent study from the University of Chicago has found more than a few benefits of letting your child play in the dirt. Yes, we know that some may find it crazy, but hear us out before making any conclusions.
Jack Gilbert, a microbial ecosystem scientist from the University of Chicago, was getting tips on how to raise his child “the right way” since the moment his son was born. Everyone around him suggested that he should sterilize the baby’s pacifier or give him antibiotics in case of infections. He did what he was told but always wondered if the risks of exposing a child to germs are real.
When he got his second child, it was the perfect opportunity to learn more about said risks. To his surprise, exposing his child to germs wasn’t that bad of a thing. As a matter of fact, a pacifier that fell to the ground and (of course) picked up germs should be returned to the baby unwashed to strengthen their immunity.
Can Germs Actually Be Good for Our Children?
Gilbert is a renowned co-author of books such as Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System. Although many still consider him crazy, the man has scientifically shown that children can benefit from germs. Instead of not allowing your children to play in the dirt, you should allow them to do it and let nature do its thing.
Many people also keep their children away from cats and dogs which is also the wrong idea. Whenever you need to wash your children, do it with warm water and mild soap. Hand sanitizers and antiseptic wipes do nothing but smear the germs all over.
We all know that we have about 5 seconds to pick something off the floor before bacteria “claim” it. Well, it’s not like that at all. Microorganisms need only a few milliseconds to get themselves on food. Plus, if you keep your home clean, this won’t happen at all.
In one study, parents were asked to lick a pacifier that fell to the ground and give it back to their children. They didn’t wash it – they simply licked it and put it straight back to their child’s mouth. After studying over 300,000 subjects, the children who got back a licked pacifier were more immune to eczema, asthma, and various allergies.
According to Gilbert, our children may actually be more sensitive to allergens simply because we overprotect them. It wasn’t like that in the past – interestingly enough, the prevalence of allergies and other ailments was also lower.
This is why Gilbert recommends letting your child play in the dirt. There’s no real danger for your children apart from getting dirty, but we think you can handle a few pieces of dirty clothes.