I am a firm believer in letting kids play. Not just inside with toys, but outside in the dirt, with the bugs and rocks. Kids learn by playing and getting their hands on something. My kids have grown up rolling on the floor with the dogs (and eating the dog hair), playing in the dirt and rocks, picking up worms and bugs (they have probably eaten a few too), splashing in mud puddles, making mud pies, and more.
I very strongly feel that healthy immune systems are built by kids being exposed to dirt and grime from a young age. Not only does this include what I’ve already mentioned above, but it also includes allowing them to pick up a dropped snack and eat it, not running to sanitize a dropped pacifier or sippy cup, and so on. I don’t raise them to live in a bubble where they are protected from every little germ. I don’t follow them around with hand sanitizer and chlorox wipes. Now don’t get me wrong, I bathe my kids on a regular basis, feed them off clean plates, and make sure they have clean clothes every day. At a recent party I even threw away a hot dog that my youngest was trying to eat after he dropped it in a mud puddle.
My kids are some of the healthiest I know. I can’t tell you the last time we were at the doctor for an ear ache or fever. They get the occasional colds, but nothing more significant. Now, if my kids were born with health issues, or had a weakened immune system, I would be doing things differently. I’ve been blessed with healthy kids so I am able to just let them play and explore.
So…. Let them be little. Let them play and explore. Let them get all muddy, play in the rain and the dirt, eat leaves and grass (within reason!)…. Just have the hose ready to clean them off before coming back in the house!