Are you one of those moms who start palpitating the moment your child picks dirt up from the floor and puts it in his mouth? Do you prefer to keep him at home to avoid any infections and cold?
While maintaining a good hygiene is imperative, did you know that being too clean all the time can be detrimental to your baby’s health?
What Is Hygiene Hypothesis?
According to a new line of medical thinking, known as hygiene hypothesis, when you limit your baby’s exposure to bacteria, virus and other parasites early in life, it increases his risk of allergies, asthma and various other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and alopecia areata.
The theory also suggests that babies who grow up with siblings, who lived on a farm with animals and pets, or those who have been exposed to other babies in a daycare from a very early age, show fewer incidents of allergies as compared to babies who have been kept at home, clean and away from any outside hosts.
The more your baby is exposed to everyday germs, the stronger his or her immunity gets. Similarly, your baby’s brain will learn to develop and grow with regular stimulation and interaction.
The idea is not to keep your baby dirty, but exposing him to simple everyday activities which could be as simple as playing in the park or the beach.
Here’s how you can improve your baby’s immunity:
- Encourage your baby play in the park, at the beach and the pool.
- Use a hand sanitizer only before or after meals, and not to clean hands every now and then.
- In case of a simple cut, scrape or wound, use water and soap to clean up instead of special soaps and sprays.
- Avoid antibiotics as much as possible.
- Share food with your baby whenever you can, and allow siblings to eat from the same plate, too.
1. Bloomfield S, Stanwell-Smith R, Crevel R, Pickup J. Too clean, or not too clean: the Hygiene Hypothesis and home hygiene. Clinical and Experimental Allergy . 2006;36(4):402-425. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2222.2006.02463.x.