As parents, from the very second your child is born, you do everything in your power to instill good hygiene habits and there’s nothing wrong in that. If by chance your baby drops his pacifier and then tries to put it back into his mouth, you’ll be the first one to run across five oceans to snatch it away from him. But did you know that germs and dirt and few things unsanitary (not going to say everything because it is still unbelievable even to us) are actually good for your child?
“Hygiene hypothesis” was first proposed by Dr. David Strachan where he pointed out that certain diseases like allergies, fever, and eczema were less common in kids from larger families and the probability of children from larger families being exposed to germs in higher because of constant contact with siblings and other family members. Which means that an exposure to germs doesn’t actually weaken the immune system, in fact, it does the opposite.
This is because - As your child gets exposed to more and more diverse germs during gestation and childhood, the immune system will build up a sort of database that will be able to identify the organisms and will be able to respond accordingly in a given environment. Think of the immune system as a computer that keeps track of every little hard drive, so the next time the same thing is introduced it doesn’t hesitate in taking the necessary steps for the proper functioning of the system. This also explains why a majority of babies that are vaginally delivered are healthier because of the exposure to various bacteria in the vaginal tract.
So what we’re saying is that your child will be less prone to certain allergies, asthma and eczema in his adult life if you let them live a little and get their hands dirty in their childhood so here’s what you can do:
1. Maybe not use an antibacterial soap, handwash, and sanitizers all the time. Once in a while, it's okay for your child to have food without excessively scrubbing off the germs (but not all the time though)
2. Don't hesitate to get a pet for the sole reason that there’ll be more germs in the house to deal with. Cats, dogs, fish or even guinea pigs - take your pick and your child will be grateful for life.
3. Eat all kinds of foods in different places. Don’t stick to a single dish or a cuisine even, try new fruits, vegetables and seafood now and then.
4. Allow your child to play with other kids in the playgrounds and parks. It’s okay for them to get down and dirty in the sand.
5. You don’t have to wash a certain article of clothing just after one wear. Give it a go for a few times before you wash it thoroughly. Unless there are stains because that’ll just look uncivilized.