I have to admit, three years ago when my oldest son was born, I was a germ freak. Washing pacifiers constantly, demanding every person wash their hands till their skin pealed off before holding him, and of course everything was anti-bacterial soap, and hand sanitizer.
I certainly got more laid back with each child we had, but it wasn’t until recently I realized, even in the first year of life… germs are actually good for our children.
I was flipping through the July 2011 issue of Parenting, and came across a short article on germs by one of my favorite internet reads… Dr. Alan Greene. I originally started reading him through work he has done with BornFree, and it really stuck.
He is a pediatrician geared towards raising children green. Which I try to do for the most part with my little ones.
The title of the article was “Why you should love germs” which is what really caught my attention.
“Keeping things clean is smart, but going crazy using antibacterial hand soaps, buying antibacterial kids toys and other products, and overusing antibiotic medications is actually killing off the microbes that can help strengthen the immune system.”
This was probably my favorite quote from the article though, because it really breaks down why mild use of these products are ok, but abusing and overusing them could really do more harm than good to our little ones. This is also one of the reasons we are seeing an increase in drug resistant organisms according to Dr. Greene, and to me it totally makes sense.
I have backed off on the crazy cleaning stuff… of course I keep things clean, and I am not going to give Addie a pacifier that fell into a pile of dirt, or fell on the floor in a public bathroom, but remember that old saying when we were kids? God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt…
Well I am not going to go crazy when she throws her pacifier on the floor in my living room, or I see her shove one of her brothers toys in her mouth after they had it in their mouth once she is old enough to invade their toy box.
So how are we to get our kids the good stuff they need?
Dr. Greene suggests a couple things… one being feeding them right.
“Foods that naturally contain organisms. These include yogurt, pickles, dark chocolate, and feta cheese”
All great and delicious foods. One of the first foods we actually do for solids is yogurt also. The Stonyfield Yo Baby Yogurt. I highly recommend it!
Lastly keeping your children away from cigarette smoke can also help to keep favorable bacteria in their lives. According to Dr. Greene the smoke can actually kill good bacteria that helps build your children’s immunity.
Tons of good information there, especially for first time moms who are gaga for the antibacterial trend. Believe me, I have been roped in myself for years, and it is going to be harder than I think to help break my habits!