Too much exposure to germs - a good thing? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A neighbor of mine has a daughter similar in age to mine - 28 mo old. Both of the girls don't go to daycare.

 

I am a bit of a protective mom. I wear her warm clothes in windy weather, don't let her play in water too much or if she does I immediately remove her wet clothes. Hand sanitize her regularly. If we are in a playground and I see a toddler with sniffles then I veer my DD in a different direction. Let her play in the sand only a few times at the beach and don't let her get too dirty. You get the picture? She does get colds but not very often and when she does I don't let her go out in the wind too much and bundle her up with vicks on her feet and chest and throat.

 

Now my neighbor - lets her DD play in the mud, water etc. and generally lets her DD loose. As a result - I have never seen her DD without a runny nose. My neighbor is always telling me "Oh DD has caught a nasty bug.... a nasty virus...a nasty something or the other". She is not overly concerned at all and during her worst illnesses she (the DD) is playing wild, snot running freely out of her nose.

 

 

Who is not doing her DD any favors? Will her DD grow up robust and with a better immune system because she is used to so many germs throughout her toddlerhood? Or am I fine?

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#2 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 03:26 PM
 
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I had a response and then lost it. Ugh!

Anyway, most kids go through a period of time at some point where they start picking up germs a lot, generally when they first start hanging around a lot of other kids, whether that be at a daycare, at preschool, at another organized group, or spending a lot of time at the park around other kids. Your child will probably have this happen at some point too when she starts coming into contact with a lot of other kids. It's a question of "when" and not "if".

Also, I do think it's a loss that she can't get dirty. A lot of great fun involves dirt and grime, and it's a great thing for kids as far as learning and development goes. A great book that touches on this is The Last Child In the Woods.

Finally, I'm less worried about germs than that hand sanitizer stuff. I don't know where you can look into that, but it isn't great stuff.
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#3 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 05:32 PM
 
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You can't catch a cold from dirt or sand or water. You do and will catch a virus from other people/kids. Kids pass colds back and forth constantly. The average child gets 8-12 illnesses a year. Some will get more. Neighbor kid sounds normal to me, I'm guessing she probably gets the chance to play with a lot of other kids, which equals more sickness. She sounds like she gets to have a lot of fun. 


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#4 of 26 Old 10-02-2011, 05:41 PM
 
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Also, I do think it's a loss that she can't get dirty. A lot of great fun involves dirt and grime, and it's a great thing for kids as far as learning and development goes.

I agree with this. I think most kids will have periods where they get sick a lot & periods where they don't, and some kids seem to have a genetic predisposition to be sick often or to be always healthy. So I would err on the side of fun and learning and rolling in the mud!

I am a lot like your neighbor. My DS goes out in all weather, frequently barefoot, and he doesn't wear a jacket if he chooses not to (which is quite often, even in the winter). He plays in the rain and 'swims' in the mud and loves the sand and puddles and leaves and even eats grass lol. We don't use hand sanitizer or wash hands frequently & we make minimal effort to avoid illness -- I am the friend that people invite over when their kids are coming down with something or just getting over something & going stir-crazy, because we just don't mind being exposed to germs and I actually feel like it's good for him.

But he is very rarely sick. I think the last time was about 6mos ago, he got a slight cold after we started going to the children's museum frequently (I'm assuming because he put his mouth on things so many other kids had played with all day!) He's just not often sick, and I don't know if that's a genetic thing or because he gets exposed to so much & developed immunity or maybe it's because he's still nursing or because he loves veggies?? haha I really have no clue but obviously playing in dirt hasn't harmed him any. wink1.gif

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#5 of 26 Old 10-03-2011, 04:36 AM
 
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We really only stay away from germs on purpose if someone in the house has a stomach flu or worse, I demand more hand washing (vs. none:shy) We avoid people who are very sick. I never use hand sanitizer and we really aren't hand washers much. I have 4 kids and we have about 1 cold per kid per year and various stomach bugs a few times a year but my older kids (12, 10, 7) aren't hardly sick at all.

We dress for the weather but have plenty of muddy encounters in the cold. If my 2 year old got soaking wet and muddy outside in the cold, I'd certainly bring her inside and clean her up and put her in dry clothes.

We do not have kids with constant snotty noses. Unless it's an allergy, I'd try to "fix" that I suppose. It seems inconsiderate. I used to have a friend who would not tell me when her kids were sick and it drove me crazy. If she had a cold I didn't care but her 3 year old ds, I would not have shown up.

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#6 of 26 Old 10-03-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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I would say let the dirt rule! That's the way we are though. We let our older DS (little DS is still being worn all the time etc) play in mud puddles, eat dirt, etc. He's been sick 3 times total in 2.5 years and once was because he was cutting a dang 2 year molar. Those are the worst! Anyhoo....I believe that there are times when it's appropriate to wash hands, after toilet, after handling raw meat, after being so caked in mud and dirt that it's really gross!!! So, if DS has super grubby hands we wash them before he eats, but not always. he's a strong, healthy, robust kid who is developmentally advanced which is oodles of fun! If you're worried about getting ill too often, cut out inflammatory foods like grains and gluten. Your immune system is in the gut, in the winter months we all take probiotics to help keep everything in balance. There will be times when we all get sick, but I think it has more to do with how your general maintanence is with diet - maybe that's just me though.

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#7 of 26 Old 10-03-2011, 05:23 PM
 
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My DD still nurses some (13 months) but went to daycare when she was seven weeks old - ugh - we were ALWAYS sick.  She was sick from daycare though, not from the 7 greyhounds we had when we planned a homebirth or the turkeys, geese, and chickens she regularly helped with with (in the sling) when she was an infant.  I donno...my head is still spinning because she got sick as frequently as she did from daycare and was breastfed!  I'm hoping this cold season will be better!

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#8 of 26 Old 10-03-2011, 06:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hear you guys. Trust me - that was the reason I even started this thread - because I wondered if I was not doing my daughter any favors. But one fact of my life kind of negates many things. So my mom was in some ways like I am - protecting me from the cold and germs and getting sick. Where as my cousins were the wild play in the mud , eat dirt types. Guess who grew up with the robust constitution? Yup me.

I also gave a bit of an extreme picture I am afraid. I don't obsessively sanitize her hands. But if she has played in the mud - then in the van I do (before I can wash her hands at home).

But I will also try and relax a bit :-)
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#9 of 26 Old 10-03-2011, 09:53 PM
 
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I think over sanitizing does kill/impair our immune systems. I let DS play with/in mud, eat food he drops on the floor/ground (most of the time), share and play with kid si know are sick- and he is also a very healthy, robust child who has had 1 cold and a runny nose in his 2 years. Environment plays a big role- smoking parents, poor diet, etc. I would let DS play outside if he wanted to during an illness; I think sunshine and fresh air are much better than laying inside. Trying to strike a balance between safety and fun and learning for your kids is the hard part :)

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#10 of 26 Old 10-04-2011, 04:19 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Blessed_Mom View Post
.. But if she has played in the mud - then in the van I do (before I can wash her hands at home).
But I will also try and relax a bit :-)


I guess I don't understand the "sanitizing" of mud.  If my dd were muddy I'd wipe her hands off so she didn't get mud everywhere but I wouldn't think to use HS.

 


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#11 of 26 Old 10-04-2011, 05:08 AM
 
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You should read up on the hygiene hypothesis.

 

some of your ideas are just not supported by science.    avoiding sicks kids, sure.  But wrapping up warm?  Not playing in mud?  Those are just not related to avoiding illness, AFAIK.

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#12 of 26 Old 10-04-2011, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes you may be right. I need to rethink a few things....

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#13 of 26 Old 10-04-2011, 07:03 PM
 
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Another vote for dirty toddler, lol. She just won't stay clean, spent most of the summer totally muddy, sandy, drooly, but surprisingly not snotty. She has 2 older siblings and their friends are over here constantly (as in, everyday), and have been coming over since she was about 2 days old. The only thing I tend to avoid if I at all can is the stomach bug (yuck).

 

FWIW, I was raised in a very sterile apartment with an obsessively cleaning grandmother, was not allowed to play outside with even a slightly runny nose, never had anybody over and was almost always overdressed. When I started school, I was ALWAYS sick, to which my parents would promptly put me on antibiotics eyesroll.gif. By age 10 I was diagnosed with all forms of environmental allergies, and by 15 with asthma. Not to mention being a hypochondriac with pretty severe anxiety, lol.

 

I recommend easing up a bit. The bugs in early childhood are important immunity builders. Trust me, from personal experience, the snotty toddlers will most likely be pretty snot-free school-agers.


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#14 of 26 Old 10-04-2011, 10:13 PM
 
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I know you are already rethinking but just wanted to throw one more thought out there. My dsd is a bit of a hypocondriac (sorry spelling) and in her case it is directly related to similar behavior from her mom. Not saying it's always the case, but something to consider. Good for you being open minded to consider the question in the first place!

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#15 of 26 Old 10-06-2011, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok one more question - so I mentioned my neighbor - right? Well - she has asked my DD over for play-dates to her house.

 

Now here is the thing - EVERY SINGLE time I have seen her DD - she has been sick. So going over there means a 99% chance my DD will get sick too (almost 100% chance). Now would you guys - knowing that there is a 100% chance your LO will get sick (cold, fever, cough, loss of appetite) - will you send your LOs to their house for play-dates? She has some cool toys, a cat and a huge bouncy trampoline thingie - so she prefers that we have them in her house. I keep my DD's toys simple....not too many and not too elaborate things for her.

 

So picture this - you send your LO into a room and she WILL come back sick (no question) - will you deliberately make her sick?

 

 

 

 

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#16 of 26 Old 10-06-2011, 11:22 AM
 
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If an hour around a sick kid means she WILL get sick, she really needs a stronger immune system. Healthy food, probiotics (yogurt etc in the diet, and playing in some good healthy soil), extra Vitamin C, Echanacia and Zinc around the time of and after exposure to sick kids. A day of a little fatigue or sore throat should be the most she gets after exposure in most cases, with only the occasional illness getting through.

 

If my child's immune system was compromised, like say after a round of antibiotics or something, then no I wouldn't let him play with sick children until he was healthier.

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#17 of 26 Old 10-06-2011, 04:19 PM
 
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I agree that if she gets sick that easily it might benefit her to have some immune-boosters or something... Is she ever around other kids??? I would think she might get sick the first few times but once she's around kids regularly then she won't get sick so often, unless she has other health issues.

But to answer your question, yes I would bring DS over. We often go to playdates where the other kids are sick (not lie-on-the-couch-puking sick, but runny nose/cold/cough/getting over something sick). He doesn't generally get sick from it though -- I guess if he caught every little thing I might hesitate more, not sure. Otherwise, I'd only stay home if we had really important plans that would be disrupted should he get sick. I just feel like it's good for their immune systems to have some exposure to minor illnesses so they can build up antibodies & immunity. And good for DS to play with his friends. smile.gif

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#18 of 26 Old 10-07-2011, 04:34 AM
 
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I agree something else must be going on if she can't be around a child with a cold without getting sick herself.


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#19 of 26 Old 10-07-2011, 04:33 PM
 
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I vote for the playdate too, if the child is feeling well enough to play of course. Look, sooner or later if she goes to school, or preschool she WILL be around other kids and most of them will have a runny nose at some point. Are you going to keep her home from school during all winter months? I say have her around the other kid as often as you can! Better to get her immune system strenghtened up while she is young. Not to mention that it seems as if you guys enjoy each others' company. Socialization is more important for the both of you right now than avoiding germs at all costs, IMO.


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#20 of 26 Old 10-09-2011, 07:26 PM
 
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I suspect your DD won't get sick as easily as you think. And if she does, it is just helping to build her immune system. If you are still BFing, make sure you get the same exposure and your Milk can help her benefit from immune-building exposure without getting sick. I would avoid kids or grownups who are stuck-in-bed-sick, but running around wild type sick is not much of a problem.

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#21 of 26 Old 10-10-2011, 11:44 AM
 
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definitely seems like your LO needs some immune support if she gets ill so easily.  We play around and with kids who have colds etc and we rarely if ever get ill....


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#22 of 26 Old 10-24-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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I agree with PP it sounds like her immune system could use some ramping up =)

 

DS (almost 2) gets really dirty, eats mud and bugs, loves being barefoot outside, especially if its wet or muddy, eats stuff off the floor that he drops, etc etc. We are a chemical free house, so we dont use anything like hand sanitizers. I will wipe his hands down when they are grubby or stick, but thats about it.

 

My DH and I believe nutrition is the best medicine. We all drink freshly made juice daily. Lots of greens, vitamins, even raw garlic. DS loves it. He also gets a vit D supplement to help heal some cavities, so that is supporting his immune system as well, and he loves Kefir, so he gets a lot of probiotics. He has been sick for less than 48 hours in his whole life, and is frequently around other sick adults/children. Sometimes I actually encourage him to play with a child I know is sick, because I think he needs that exposure to further build up his immunity. HTH =)


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#23 of 26 Old 10-24-2011, 09:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blessed_Mom View Post

 

So picture this - you send your LO into a room and she WILL come back sick (no question) - will you deliberately make her sick?

 

 

 

 


Nope, I would definitely pass on the play date, especially because my baby girl is still very oral (16months).  

 

My little one plays in mud, sand and water almost daily (she has a water/sand table, sand box and kiddie pool in the yard and a readily available mud puddle in the neighbors yard) and we go to the beach every week (she occasionally still eats sand) and hike the local mountains and streams twice a month (she loves to sit and play in the mud next to the streams). She loves to be outside and get dirty.  We had a quick rain storm today that lasted 10 minutes and I initiated that she go out and play in the rain and puddles..lol. We were both barefoot and we didn't have jackets on.  

 

However, when it comes to sicky germs, I tend to stay away and avoid sick kids if we can.  I take her to the playground and play dates weekly and she is around kids all the time.  I think her gymnastics and library classes are the germiest places but I just make sure to wash her hands immediately after the classes are over. If we are at a playground, I spray her hands with some Cleanwell hand sanitizer and do a good wash when we get home.  

When we go to a theme park (she touches hand rails and other grimy things), I wash her hands but usually spray her hands randomly throughout the day.  

I often find my self cringing when I see a kid sneeze or cough all over a toy I know my LO will be handling next. lol. I usually try to redirect her to another area.  

 

My LO has not been sick YET not even a sniffle or a cough...maybe it's because she is still breastfed, maybe it's the probiotics I give her or maybe it's because I take a little extra effort to wash/sanitize her hands in germy places. However, I do feel that she is getting exposed to germs and building up an immunity from being around other children.

 

Balance is key.  I am sure you will find a healthy balance that works for you! :)

 


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#24 of 26 Old 10-25-2011, 07:13 AM
 
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Alright, DH was a sick kid.  Like all scheduled events he would get strep or any other nasty ailment before holidays and on every other day you can imagine.  Ear infections were a norm for him.  And since I never get sick he entrusted me with keeping their immune systems intact.

 

Animals

Dirt

Grass

soap only

fresh air

windows always open

play away with whom ever!

 

Both girls have been through 4 bouts of strep and have never gotten it.  NEVER!  They were with their Daycare provider and her kids through their 1st, 2nd and 3rd bout of strep.  She kept them anyway since she was getting over it and because they didn't get squat.  Now of course I eventually got strep and my doctor told me my kids were little carriers but didn't appear to pick up anything but a snotty nose.  So I had strep for the first time at 27. 

 

However some people are just more apt to get sick no matter what.  DH hasn't been sick in years.  So maybe he's got an awesome immune system now.  Who knows.  But don't shy away from germs,. that ruins the fun!

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#25 of 26 Old 10-25-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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I would also go to the playdate. And my dd would have about a 50/50 chance of getting sick. Actually, this year, she seems a lot more "resistant", but last year (24months-ish), she seemed to catch every other thing that was going around. It was a pain, because she felt bad, and because we had to deal with frequent night wakings due to coughing, discomfort, etc. BUT, I really think that's just part of being a child, and I think it's good for kids to learn how to fight these things off. 

We don't avoid people unless they have a gastric issue, mostly because I can NOT deal with the results!  

I did finally figure out a few things - elderberry, vit c and probiotics are awesome, and we always wash hands when we get home. Just with regular soap and water, but we do wash hands. 

I heard an interview with the author of "The Dirt on Clean" yesterday, and now I'm super interested to hunt down a copy. It sounds like something that might add a bit to this discussion.


For greater things are yet to come...

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#26 of 26 Old 10-25-2011, 06:01 PM
 
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I'd say something like, "We'll have to get the kids together when your LO is feeling well." I do play dates, library groups and other public places. I don't worry too much about sand or dirt. I might use a baby wipe to clean off her hands, and I definitely take her into the bathroom and wash her hands before we eat when we are out and about. But my LO has a big sister who gets her sick, so it doesn't really matter, LOL. I don't think I'd worry about her if she gets sick after a play date with a sick kid. Until they've already had a lot of colds, they do pick them up easily. That's why they say that kids will go through a phase where they have a ton of colds. The thing I found starting my older dd in pre-k at age 4 was that she was over the colds more quickly and it's easier when they are older.

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