Want to keep your kids healthy? Then let them get dirty
While it can seem like keeping your children clean and away from dust, dirt and grime is the best way to make sure they stay healthy; science will tell you otherwise.
In fact, according to B. Brett Finlay, Ph.D., and Marie-Claire Arrieta, Ph.D, it might actually be far more beneficial – in the name of good health – to let your kids get a little dirty.
In the last few years, scientists have really started to understand just how important a role bacteria play in our health, especially for growing bodies, and in the book Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child From an Oversanitized World , Finlay and Arrieta argue just how beneficial it is for children to be exposed to healthy bugs.
According to the authors, new research has shown that one of the most critical time periods for setting up the body with its microbes is the first 100 days of an infant’s life. And while they (obviously) don't recommend putting your infant down in the dirt, Finlay and Arrieta believe that children exposed to a diverse set of microbes are "more likely to develop an immune system capable of defending against pretty serious things like diabetes, asthma, and negative reactions to vaccines"
On the flip side, a microbial imbalance makes children more susceptible to those types of afflictions, unfortunately.
These findings mean a few things. One, stop using cleaning products and hand gels that are antibacterial. They are at best a waste of money, at worst, very harmful to your health.
Secondly, make sure that your children are being exposed to a healthy and normal amount of dirt and bacteria.
How? This one is so easy, mamas.
Just let them play out in the sandpit, be outside in nature, dig for treasure, have a dog, visit public playgrounds and interact with other children. And most importantly, according to the authors, avoid the use of antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary.