Getting dirty is an inevitable part of childhood; it’s not always fun for parents, but the benefits might comfort you while you’re cleaning up the mud pies that mysteriously appeared on your living room rug.
A little dirt might never hurt anyone, and according to research, it might actually do kids some good. According to Jack Gilbert, a scientist at the University of Chicago and co-author of a new book, Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System, exposure to germs can be beneficial for the immune system.
In an interview with NPR, Gilbert explained that there’s a problem with over-sterilizing kids’ environments. “It’s fine to wash their hands if there’s a cold or a flu virus around, but if they’re interacting with a dog, and the dog licks their face, that’s not a bad thing. In fact that could be extremely beneficial for the child’s health,” he says.
In the interview, Gilbert also cited a study of infants who dropped their pacifiers. The results showed that when parents licked the pacifiers and popped them back in their baby’s mouths, their kids were less likely to develop allergies or asthma and were healthier overall.
Gilbert’s advice to parents is, “Allow your kid to experience the world. As long as they’re properly vaccinated, there’s no threat, and they will actually get a stronger, more beneficial exposure.”
Do you allow your kids to get dirty? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.