5 Second Rule: A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anybody?

When I became a mother for the first time I was a crazy germaphobe. Every last germ and microorganism was a threat to my son’s physical well-being. Germs? Yeah right, not on my watch.

I bathed my son constantly, wiped down child play areas whenever possible and fussed over every cough, sneeze and dropped goldfish cracker. Then BooBoo came along.

Hey, two kids felt like a lot to me. My Type A tendencies couldn’t handle all the messes, spills, germs and muddy shoe prints between them. I no longer had the time to vacuum and sweep 2 times a day and dropped goldfish crackers? Fuhgeddaboudit. Depending on where my kid dropped it, if they could pick it up real fast and blow on it – I figured it was probably OK, I mean I’m not a doctor but I play one online.

Spilled crackers, dropped lollipops, muddy shoes and snotty sleeves – my kids have managed to survive them all. Imagine that.

Cleanliness, sterilization and proper hygiene matter for lots of health reasons but there’s something to be said for a little dirt under the fingernails of a kid. As it turns out, a little dirt is actually good for kids. For reals.

According to the WebMD article, Is Dirt Good for Kids?:

Just as a baby’s brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn, adapt, and regulate itself, notes Thom McDade, PhD, associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research at Northwestern University.

And when it comes to keeping your kids’ environment germ free, McDade says, “I’d like to see a recalibration toward common sense. You don’t have to wash or sanitize everything.”

Keep things around the house clean, he says, but remember that using harsh chemicals to sanitize, such as bleach, might be more harmful to your children than any lingering germs. And the next time your toddler picks up and eats food he just dropped on the floor, take a deep breath and just walk away.

Before we thought we could outsmart germs, we were kids ourselves. When I was a kid I used to drink from the garden hose, eat fruit right off a tree without washing it and even go pee without washing my hands (gross!) and look, I even lived to blog the tale.

But what about the so-called “5-Second Rule”? Believe it or not, scientists tested the rule. Click here to learn about the results of their study.

For me, it all comes down to good old-fashioned common sense in the end.

Of course my kids wash their hands before meals and after using the toilet (they better!). And yes, my kids bathe every day (much to their chagrin). We are indeed the family who washes our fruit, even if we eat goldfish crackers off the ground once and awhile.

What are your thoughts on kids and dirt?

More on Toddler Times:

Reader’s Share Their Favorite Embarrassing Toddler Pics!

What Would Happen If a Toddler Ran the House?

My Toddler Has a TV in His Room and I’m Not Sorry

My Kid is Right: Clowns Are Scary


Need help disinfecting your home? Follow Babble’s Germ Matrix!

Article Posted 5 years Ago
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