Once you’ve gotten your kids into dress clothes, it’s almost inevitable that they will find their way to the closest mud puddle. But as frustrating as clean-up duty can be, dirt and mud are actually good for your kiddos.
The idea that playing in the dirt (and, let’s face it, they’ll probably eat a little too) isn’t a terrible thing is part of the “hygiene hypothesis.” This hypothesis is based on the idea that being exposed to the bacteria and viruses you find in your average backyard isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it helps to build immunity. Exposing your children to microbes helps their immune system learn how to handle different environments, according to the New York Times.
(This is not a recommendation to actively expose your kids to things that could get them sick.)
Research has shown that childhood exposure to dirt helps with asthma and allergies, and some researchers think that it may even help prevent inflammation into adulthood, according to WebMD. Inflammation is linked to several adult diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.
Overuse of antibiotics could, similarly, do your kiddos more harm than good when it comes to developing healthy immune systems.
Should you take your kiddo out and roll them around in a mud puddle? That might be overdoing it. But you can let them roam free in nature whenever you get a chance, give careful thought to whether they really need an antibiotic, and let them get a little dirty.