We have a very liberal 5-second rule in our home and we definitely aren’t big on anti-bacterial products. Of course we keep a clean house, but we aren’t trying to kill every germ we come in contact with. In fact, I think the exposure to everyday germs is what we need to keep our healthy immune systems in check even when it comes to our toddler Ona. How else is her young immune systems expected to strengthen, adapt and learn? I’m not suggesting exposing your unvaccinated newborn to the dirty floor of an airport bathroom -use some common sense here. But if your kid has a healthy immune system I do really think they are going to be just fine riding in a grocery cart that hasn’t been wiped down with hand sanitizer first. I certainly don’t have any credentials that make me an authority on this topic so instead I thought I’d share some pretty fascinating articles that support these ideas that are written by people who are way more qualified than me.
Germs Aren’t Always Bad
“Why You Should Stop Giving Your Kid A Bath Every Night”, The Washington Post February 2015
This article highlights the Author Rob Dunn and his book “The Wild Life of Our Bodies”. “Dunn explains that over cleaning can be bad for our immune system, which need certain microbes and gut bacteria to function properly and keep us healthy from more dangerous pathogens.”
“Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes” NPR February 2015
“A new study involving 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family’s dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever. The hypothesis basically suggests that people in developed countries are growing up way too clean because of a variety of trends, including the use of hand sanitizers and detergents, and spending too little time around animals. As a result, children don’t tend to be exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms, and maybe that deprives their immune system of the chance to be trained to recognize microbial friend from foe.”
“Sucking Your Child’s Pacifier Clean May Have Benefits” New York Times Blog June 2013
“In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, scientists report that infants whose parents sucked on the pacifier to the clean them developed fewer allergies than children whose parents typically rinsed or boiled them. They also had lower rates of eczema and fewer signs of asthma”
All three of these article’s findings are based on the Hygiene Hypothesis, an evolving theory that simply suggests that a degree of exposure to germs when you’re young may benefit you but trying to avoid them entirely could backfire and cause your immune system to overreact to friendly microbes leading to allergies, eczema and asthma. So maybe let you kid get a little dirty, it might make them healthier in the long run. And if you need some validation on the 5-second rule, read this fun article “Rethinking The Five-Second Rule: With Carpet, There’s No Rush” from NPR.