Healthy Kids…Got Germs?

Before my six year old daughter Ari was born, I had already started to “go green” (although I’m not sure I would’ve known that term then). I used cloth diapers and made her food at home rather than buy it, but there also was a lot I didn’t know. With the birth of my second daughter I made a lot of changes. One of those changes was in how I cleaned.

With Ari, just like many first-time moms, I tried to keep everything clean. I know I didn’t succeed, but I tried. I did not want any germs in my tiny baby’s presence. I tried to wipe off her toys and keep cat fur out of her mouth. I don’t think I followed the 5 (or 10 or 15) second rule at all.


Ari at three weeks

This next time around, I was much more laid back. While I tried to keep everything tidy, I did not religiously use harsh chemicals; in fact I didn’t even use my vinegar all that much. I didn’t freak out when dog hair got in Abby’s mouth. The 10 second rule definitely applied in most cases. And the amazing thing is, Abby has been a much healthier child!

Ari had colds often, ear infections frequently, and developed asthma by the age of 18 months. Abby, on the other hand, has only been to the doctor twice since she was born. My cleaning routine and attitude were certainly not the only changes I made, but I do believe they are some of the reasons Abby has been sick so rarely.


Abby at 3 weeks, Ari 4 years

When I was growing up, many products were introduced to “help” us kill all of the germs that were making us sick. In the last decade or so, the tide has begun to turn. Now scientists have discovered that germs help us. Some bacteria help our bodies digest food, others may help adjust our metabolism, and yet another may act as an antidepressant. In fact, because modern sanitation causes children to come in contact with far fewer germs than our ancestors did, we are more likely to have auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or irritable bowel syndrome. Children who are given antibiotics in their first year of life have double the chance of acquiring allergies or asthma later.

As you clean your house tomorrow, next week or next month, remember that disinfecting every surface of your house may have the opposite of your intended effect.

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