Parenting

Play in the Dirt, Baby!

Suzanne Murray
10


dirt is good for babies

photo by NonnieJ

Dirt is everywhere. In my car, my house, my yard. I can't keep it away from my baby or my baby away from it—and, I've discovered, that's a good thing.


Just a few months ago, she was on a dirt-eating kick. She’d try to eat the dirt out of our potted plants and it really worried me. But right around that time, the New York Times published an article about how eating dust and dirt is good for babies. Dirt good for babies? Yup. The experts say it helps build up babies' immune systems so that they'll be nice and healthy. So I stopped stressing so much about the dirt (which my daughter lost interest in anyway) and the fact that my house was messier than I'd like it to be. I may not be the clean freak I once was, but I'm doing my part to keep my baby healthy.

Dirt is good for other reasons too. Mr. Cafe Suzanne and I have been trying to decide if we should live in the city or the country, so my sister-in-law told me about a book she was reading called Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. According to Richard Louv, the author, it's important that kids get outside and "play in the dirt." He says there's a link between things like childhood obesity and attention deficit disorder and the fact that kids don't spend time outdoors getting down and dirty. Children who do experience nature are less likely to get ADD. Hmm. Guess where my sister-in-law wants us to live?

But you don't have to grow plants, or even live in the country, to make sure your baby gets plenty of dirt time. I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover The Wonders of Nature, is packed with all kinds of things you can do with your little one to engage them in the outdoors, whether you live in the city or the country. Each activity is meant to promote exploration and stimulate the imagination. Maybe it will even inspire them to eat a little dirt.

Tell me all your dirty little secrets! Are you worried about your baby getting dirty or do you encourage it?

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