Are Dirty Kids Healthier Kids?
Your toddler suddenly stoops on the way out of Target. You glance down to see what he is reaching for, and to your horror, watch him grab a kernel of popcorn and pop it into his mouth before you can stop him. Any hygienic person would probably scream in horror at this moment, but it may not be as terrible as it seems. It turns out, germs aren't always bad for kids, and keeping them too clean may be making them sick.
According to several different studies, children who spend more time in the dirt, outside, or with animals have stronger and better immune systems than those who live in a sterile environment. While we mean well when we sanitize our countertops, keep their hands clean and wiped, or keep them inside when it is muddy out, we're actually causing them harm.
Kids who are never exposed to germs develop a hyper sensitive immune system, which is shown by allergies and other health problems. Kids who receive germs have stronger immune systems.
That doesn't mean you should expose your child to deadly illnesses, but as long as your child is vaccinated against potentially harmful diseases, there is nothing wrong with letting them play in the mud, get dirty, and yes, eat stuff off the floor. (Maybe not at Target though.)