Doctors Say Dirty Houses are Good for Babies

good for baby to eat dirt

photo by NonnieJ

Pre-baby, I was the type of person who cleaned my house all the time—especially when company was coming. But once she arrived, I had very little time for anything else. So when people came to see her my house was a mess. I had to take a deep breath and let it go. Everyone understood.

Fast forward to a year later. My house is still a mess. I still don't have time to clean. But now my concern is not so much what company will think as "Is my baby going to die from all the filthy things she picks up and puts into her mouth?"


Nope. Eating dirty stuff is good for babies. "What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune system to explore his environment,” Mary Ruebush, a microbiology and immunology instructor, writes in her book, Why Dirt Is Good. "Not only does this allow for 'practice' of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored."

And Dr. Joel V. Weinstock, the director of gastroenterology and hepatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston told the New York Times, "Children raised in an ultraclean environment are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits. Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat." He points out that children who grow up on farms and are frequently exposed to worms and other organisms from farm animals are much less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune diseases.

All that in a nutshell: eating dirt helps promote a healthy immune system.

So now when company comes over, and my house is a mess, I can explain that I keep it dirty on purpose because it's much healthier for my baby.

Do you have time to clean? What things did you have to stop doing once your baby came along?

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