Sterile enviroment for babies or germs make them strong?

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  • Sterile enviroment for babies or germs make them strong?
  • samuri

    Slight argument taking place here. So lets see your take on it.

    My wife claims that keeping kids away from germs is really, really important and that the stuff about exposure to germs making them strong is a myth.

    Me, being a bloke, reckon that the more exposure to every day dirt, germs and general dirtiness is just fine and improves their immunity system. I’m not suggesting they be allowed to wallow in shit but they stuff stuff in their faces every day that they pick up off the floor and while it might produce a slight issue from time to time, it ultimately improves their ability to respond to real nasties.


    A few germs never hurt me.


    Its a way of selling dettol etc to anxious mothers.

    Utter bullshit.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    Google if you want some backup

    But not su much in the other direction
    Having grown up around a farm not much seems to knock me over and I survive a lot of things that seem to have others blowing out of both ends – not real evidence though. Just remember the basics of washing hands.

    Premier Icon Kryton57

    Germs. Otherwise you’ll have a sick kid forever. They need to build up thier immune system.

    Samuri, according to my Mrs (who’s been a senior paediatric nurse & mother of 2 for over 20yrs)…You are right, not your Mrs.


    Mind you, a sick kid is a docile obedient kid so…

    Premier Icon bruk

    I went with sterilising bottles and keeping the kids clean when they were really small but once they start crawling I was a lot less precious about it.

    Hell when they go to nursery they turn into germ factories. I’m sure one of them brought Ebola back once I felt so rough.

    There is some thought allergies are all linked to too little for the immune system to do therefore giving it one thing to do is a good thing.


    Yep. Eat dirt.


    You can be as right as you want (and you are), but you’ll still be wrong.

    Premier Icon alfabus

    I’m for the middle way – While ‘the boy’ is young, we sterilise important stuff (like his milk bottle teats), but don’t worry too much about cleaning his hands all the time, or using antibacterial wipes on his toys that he drops on the floor.

    When he is older, I’ll be very much of the ‘let them eat mud’ school of thought! 🙂


    Premier Icon garage-dweller

    Samuri are we talking newborn here or weaning age or toddler? what context for dirt too? Feeding or general house dirt?

    For anything a sub one year old eats or drinks with or from does imo need to be properly clean/sterile as appropriate.

    General crawling around on the floor stuff I would be rather less worried.

    Need to remember at the start they have little immunity so need some help especially on food/milk stuff.

    Our kids love dirt!!! They have spent the last two days “helping” to concrete in a new frame for our fish pond.


    You can be as right as you want (and you are), but you’ll still be wrong.

    Oh for sure. 😉 I should point out by the way that our son is 18 and as strong as an ox. He’s very rarely ill. He probably got a mixture of the two approaches while he was a child. 😉

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    If you want to make them really strong you may need this approach, maybe some genetically modified insects and a microware for good measure


    garage-dweller. As a new-born yeah, you try and keep things cleanig. Certainly anything you put in their mouths. This conversation was more about once they start moving about. My point was once they’re under their own steam you’re wasting your time trying to keep them clean.


    I grew up spending lots of my time as a kid knee deep in shit on a farm and hardly ever get very ill . My brother is 8 years younger than me and the family farm was sold when he was about 3 so never really had much exposure. He is Ill all the time…

    All anecdotal evidence of course but my kids are washed and clean but certainly not disinfected living in a sterile detol salesmans environment

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout

    I think that our bodies are developed to deal with germs, and there seems to vendor a strong view from professionals that exposure to all sorts of bugs n dirt helps build resilience.
    I also think the psychological issues are also there. The number of kids these days who are paranoid about getting muddy (even on wellies a few times), or eat no food that is not perfectly formed, or a general paranoia about any animals being dirty – comes from the obsessive compulsive over cleaning message as a baby.
    I spend my days persuading kids to get dirty, sandy and jump on puddles.

    Sterilised the few bottles I used for feeding (all four of mine were breastfed) and I didnt sterilise my nipples (im sure somewhere you can buy cream that does though!!)

    Toys and things kept clean but not sterilised unless something dubious had happened to them. Thankfully all four of mine are fighting fit and allergy free.

    My niece was tube fed for the first years of her life. When her mum asked the health visitor if she could stop sterilising some of the equipment required to do this when she was 18 months old – the health visitor replied you can stop sterilising her toys now but still need to do the feeding equipment’ – to which her shocked mum replied ‘I stopped sterilising her toys months ago – around the time she started crawling and kept trying to eat the cats biscuits’

    Needless to say despite her downs syndrome and heart problems she has grown into a very healthy young lady too


    I’ve got a picture somewhere of my kid sister (aged about 2)sat in the back yard eating a handful of mud. She’s 55 now it doesn’t seem to have done her any harm. 😀

    Not really a fan of the “destroy all germs” argument.
    Our boy is 16 months now. Breast-fed until his teeth started coming through and steam sterilised his bottle whilst on formula, but since then all his stuff just goes in the dishwasher along with ours. Dropped his dummy? Quick “cleaning suck” from mum/dad and back in his gob. No fuss about getting him scrupulously clean after meals or having been out and about. He’s a little boy. They’re supposed to be covered in muck.

    Nowadays he can generally be found eating cat biscuits, sand, pebbles, dirt, grass, worms, anything at ground level. He’s the one at playgroup who never misses through illness.


    Newborns need to be looked after (i.e. bottles etc) but once they’re crawling there’s not much point as your fighting a losing battle. I have two children fwiw! I was a manky little shit when I was wee and nowadays I never seem to pick up any of the bugs the rest of the Fetts bring home 8)

    Fairly scrupulous with ours until weaning time.
    Teething time is when immune system developing. Pretty obvious as they’ll be going from boob to food which is non sterile unlike milk.

    Was on an oral medicine course a while ago (I’m a dentist) and he talked a lot about the increase in allergies. Explained it by saying that as immune system becomes slightly redundant due to more sterile environment it is more likely to react to something else eg peanuts, cat fur etc you are not born allergic you are exposed to something, your body decides it doesn’t like it then next exposure the immune system reacts against it.

    He finished his lecture by advising we let our kids play in the mud and buy them a dog!


    or using antibacterial wipes on his toys that he drops on the floor.

    Really? People do this? I had no idea! I do sterilise the formula bottles if the oh is watching (for 8m old, I’ll stop it completely within a month or so), otherwise it’s a dishwasher clean and done, but other than that, let them eat worms!

    Premier Icon Stoner

    Im another farm boy here.

    I take every opportunity I can to rub my sons all over any passing animal.

    They’ll be strong like Ox.
    Or get ringworm. One of the two. 🙂

    Our sample of one suggests that our lackadaisical approach to hygiene compared to all the new parents we know has resulted in a one year old who gets ill less often than all her baby friends. Then again breast feeding may have had more effect. Whatever, the science does suggest that protecting them from germs and suchlike results in weaker immune systems and increased chance of allergies.

    using antibacterial wipes on his toys that he drops on the floor.

    Also amazed. Our 15 month old’s toys live on the floor along with copious clouds of dog hair / garden mud / whatever comes in on our shoes / the dog’s paws.

    That said, we were also pretty careful for the first few months.

    Premier Icon BigJohn

    What doesn’t kill you makes you strong. But it kills some people. If you are prepared to sacrifice a few weak babies you’ll have a family of robust kids

    Premier Icon cloudnine

    Anything a 1 year old picks up goes in their mouth… so almost a futile effort at a certain age. Id definately let the dog lick the babies hands clean after she’s been trying to put them in the toilet bowl.

    Still use antibac wipes on high chairs in cafes. They’re always filthy. If your table were that minging you’d get up and walk out.

    Strange that high chairs are just folded and put away for the next victim whilst the tables are sprayed and cleaned.

    Please, please take ten minutes to look at these photos of a French family, “… on the edge of civilisation”. Fantastic glimpse into the way childhood could be.

    Poss nsfw incredibly beautiful family photos


    We sterilise bottles obviously, but are fairly unworried by germs and let our little one play with the dog etc and yes he gets ill but builds his immunity up.

    Less exposure to germs will make them more fragile and get worse illnesses IMO.

    What happened to only having a bath once a week on Sunday when you we’re a kid?!


    Tell her it’s either germs today or faecal transplants in twenty years time.

    Surely the fact that the human race still exists is proof that we don’t need everything to be sterilised?
    My daughter was crawling at six months old – and put everything in her mouth – she’s a very healthy thirty now 🙂

    Premier Icon martinhutch

    I’m sure the repeated exposure to the chemicals in antibacterial agents is not going to have any effect. Or at least, we haven’t really got a clue.

    We know the immune system develops and learns by contact with pathogens – it’s pretty much the only way it can. There are also plenty of theories about the rise in allergies and autoimmune disorders in developed countries which point to reduced immune exposure in early life.


    My sister’s having the same argument with her other half at the moment.

    All I know is that I was born two days after my next door neighbour who was my best friend throughout school. We were exposed to the same environments at the same time. My family has a history of picking up bugs easily so was always getting stomach bugs etc up until I was 5 or so. He was picking up the same bugs so his parents went the whole Dettol everything approach whereas I was allowed to get dirty, eat bugs etc. He is always off work with the current bug that’s being passed around, whereas I’m only ever off work if I’ve managed to fall of the bike!!

    If I ever have kids they’re getting dirty and building up immunities. It’s what the body is designed to do.


    Being around my new(ish) niece her parent are pretty ridiculous

    no outdoor shoes at all in the house
    any dropped toy gets an antibacterial wipe
    babies hands constantly wiped clean

    and other such helicopter parenting germ related goodies…

    I really want to offer to look after her for a day and just leave her pottering round the garden doing whatever she likes

    Sterilising things only creates a level playing field of opportunity for the first bacteria that land on it, nasties can get established quickly if there are no competing organsisms to keep them down. This is why natrual cleansers, lemon juice, vinegar etc are better than dettol and domestos.

    Premier Icon pictonroad

    We bottle fed the lad, all feeding stuff went through the steriliser. I however stopped bothering when I discovered at about 6 months that he had taken to sucking the cat’s tail…

    Premier Icon D0NK

    This is why natrual cleansers, lemon juice, vinegar etc are better than dettol and domestos.

    why? do natural cleaners leave a load of “good bacteria”?

    I’ve got a picture somewhere of my kid sister (aged about 2)sat in the back yard eating a handful of mud.

    not sure if there’s photo evidence but as a toddler on holiday my sister sat on newquay harbour beach eating sand and chewing crabs legs (which could have been there a while) apart from a propensity for religion and having moved to cornwall permanently she doesn’t appear to have suffered ill effects.

    We didn’t go overboard the disinfectant* and the kids were/are always eating stuff off the floor. Seem ok when they’re on their own but as soon as they go to nursery they come home riddled with coughs, colds ets

    *I’m a better than average driver too 😉


    Awesome pictures user-removed

    Premier Icon miketually

    Ours were breastfed, so we never really did bottles. When we did, they were just filled with boiling water from the kettle, given a bit of a shake and then the water poured over the outside of the teat.

    They didn’t have dummies, but were keen on sucking one of our knuckles or a keyring. I know we never sterilised or disinfected any of their toys.

    They’re 8 and 10 now and never have a day off school.

    Premier Icon miketually

    Can’t remember where I read it, but there’s a lot of research into gut and skin flora and fauna now, and how they relate to general health.

    Premier Icon Yak

    We started all clean and tidy, and then when they were 11months and 2yrs, we moved into a caravan whilst we mucked about renovating and extending a house. Then it all got a bit mucky, to the stage that nursery had to point out that our youngest had worms. So slightly cleaner after that. One is mostly well and rarely misses school. The other catches everything, so I really have no idea whats best.

    Good luck anyway.

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