2.15.2008

I'll Take That Hazmat Suit in a 2T, Please

Thalia stepped gingerly towards the bassinet to take a look at the week-old baby.

"Nonono! Germs," my neighbor said, before forcing out the least sincere laugh I've ever heard.

"Can I look?" I asked.

"Sure...

Okay, that's enough." she admonished before I had focused on much more than his hat. She shooed me away from the blanketed, swaddled, and sealed-for-his-protection newborn.

"C'mon, you know how germ-phobic I am."

"Germs are good!" I laughed. "Kids need to be exposed to germs!"

"Not now," she said. "Not yet. No germs."

But...this is your second child, I thought. You're supposed to be over this.

Perhaps I'm not the person to be debating her on the subject. Nate and I took both kids out to eat at the local diner (That's because you're crazy, my neighbor said) in their first week of life. We let them pet dogs. We let them have their faces licked by those dogs. We allow them to play in (gasp) sandboxes and to (gasp) feed the animals at the petting zoo. And I can't tell you how many days it's been since we washed Sage's pacifier with actual soap.

So okay, maybe we're on the slightly unsanitary side of the parenting spectrum. But still, isn't this germ-phobia way out of control?

At Cool Mom Picks we're pitched all kinds of hand sanitizers, clothes in "naturally germ-resistant fabrics," BYO placemats, and just this week, big floppy disposable plastic mitts for kids to wear in public bathrooms. Then of course, there's the ever-popular dangle your baby from the bathroom door while you pee invention.
I'll just hang here while you do your germ-free thing, mom

(For the best riff ever about it, visit Greg's post at Daddytypes.)

Look, I don't want to rag too much on these products, though lord knows I could. I know it's just a bunch of entrepreneurial moms coming up with what they think is an awesome idea, then spurred onto action by friends who agree, Yes! Yes! Why I WOULD happily carry that harness thing around in my bag at all times just in case I have to pee while I'm out with the baby and can't manage to wash his hands immediately afterwards if, God forbid, he touches anything in the process which will doubtlessly lead to HIV and syphilis and low math scores on the PSATs.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not entirely disgusting. We certainly have the Cleanwell in the diaper bag, and I'm terrified of the communal toys at Bubby's that seemingly haven't been scrubbed since the last Bush-led recession.

But am I alone here in thinking that the fear of germs is going to lead to more earlier demises than the germs themselves?


79 Comments:

Blogger tammy b said...

you are not alone.
i was a bit cautious w/my 1st although the most extreme i got was that everyone who handled the baby had to wash their hands 1st; and even that only lasted for a month. then my 2nd & 3rd (twins) were preemies (one was a micro preemie) and i really didn't even do that with them. germs are good. germs are helpful. it's not like i'd let them eat cat poop or something, but we have 3 cats, a sandbox, and a big outdoors to play in. well, we don't play in the cats, but with the cats. i don't use antibacterial soap either. out of 3 kids (oldest is 6) we've had exactly 1 major illness (knock wood)- an ear infection in a 4 y/o just 2 months ago.

2/17/08, 9:30 PM  
Blogger Krissy said...

I understand completely. My sister just had us use hand sanitizer every time I went near her second child. Which is hard when he's crying and she is in the other room.

My first was exposed thing. I'd even just wipe/like off the binky when it fell on the floor and back in the mouth it went. Funny thing is, she only gets sick about once a year.

2/17/08, 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

I often wonder about those anti-bacterial things that purport to kill 99% (or 99.9%) of germs.

Well, what happens to that 1% (or 0.01%) that's left over. Do they eventually die from it, or do they become immune? And if they become immune, do they become superbugs?

Personally, I think exposure to germs and irritant helps build the immune system. And studies show that if kids are exposed to allergens (like cat dander) early on, they're less likely to develop allergies to that allergen later on.

IMHO.

2/17/08, 9:41 PM  
Blogger Natalie Jost said...

That's amazing - tammy b said exactly what I was going to say, right down to "my 2nd & 3rd (twins) were preemies (one was a micro preemie)"! So I have an older child and preemie twins too and you know, I wasn't all that freaked out about germs with any of them. I still laugh at my mom freaking out because I gave Olivia a bottle Emma had finished with. Hey, she was still hungry and had finished all of hers. Was I supposed to go make another bottle for her and toss out the other one that was still fresh?

Then there's "Honey, who's pacifier is this one?" and we all know how good a 5yr-old's memory is when you've just told her not to touch the baby after playing in the sandbox.

This post cracked me up. We're relatively clean people too, but some people are just freaks about it, baby or not.

2/17/08, 10:02 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

You are not alone on this, I really believe that the whole germ phobia is out of control. I can't remember who conducted it but there is at least one study that proves that children who grow up on farms and had greater exposures to dirt and yuck and poop have stronger immune systems. And also good work ethics, but that's just a bonus feature.

2/17/08, 10:15 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Is it just me, or does that neighbor have a strong Italian accent?

2/17/08, 10:23 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

What an awesome photo you chose for this post.

If you knew how often I remembered to wash my children's hands before they ate anything, you'd never come to my house again. We'll be somewhere eating and I'll hear a mom say, "OK! First wash hands!" and I'll think, "OH CRAP! I forgot AGAIN!"

And, if I was afraid of germs, I would've had a heart attack and died the day Belly thought the urinal cake in the port-a-potty was some sort of attached soap dish and rubbed her hands all over it. I thought her hands should've just turned black and fallen off at the wrists from that infestation.

Eh, I'd rather be dirty than sanitized.

2/17/08, 10:33 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

I've never been freaked out about the germ thing. I'll admit I felt a twinge of annoyance when my cousin let her sneezing and sniffling 3 year old daughter hold my 2 day old little boy while I was in the bathroom, but I got over it. We also took the kids to restaurants and public places as soon as I could walk after the c-section. It's the ONLY time you get to eat in peace while the baby sleeps!

Oh & my youngest found some cat puke and ate it once when he was 13 months old. Tell your neighbor about that one and let me know if her head explodes.

2/17/08, 10:34 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

If you start thinking about germs too much, you'll lose your damn mind. There are so many more of them than there are of us!

2/17/08, 10:47 PM  
Blogger Cloud said...

You know, there is an actual theory that our modern germ-free existence may be part of the reason allergies are on the rise in industrialized nations. Look up the sanitation hypothesis. (I think recent research indicates that it may actually have more to do with a decrease in parasitic colonization than a decrease in bacterial exposure, but it still makes a good rebuttal to the germophobes.)

And Nicole, antibacterial soaps are thought to favor the breeding of superbugs. But try buying a hand soap that ISN'T antibacterial these days. It drives me nuts.

2/17/08, 11:09 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

When my first daughter was 2 weeks old, we boarded a plane for a wedding in Florida.

One of my bestfriends was getting married and I wasn't going to miss it.

People thought we were crazy. The GERMS, they said! Whatever. She was fine. The wedding rocked.

2/17/08, 11:38 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

My kids are significantly older than most of the other commenters, and when they were infants 15.5 years ago, people just weren't so germ phobic. There was no such thing as Purell, and none of these paranoid of germs products existed. No shopping cart seats, no hang your baby on the bathroom door thingy...they just didn't exist. So I never gave germs more than a passing thought. My preemie twins seemed to be just fine being exposed to plenty of sandbox and playground germs. They rode in shopping carts and mouthed the cart handle! They put every possibly toy they came across in their mouths. And they're still alive, healthy, and obnoxious. OK, the obnoxious part has nothing to do with germs. But otherwise... it's astounding to me how paranoid new moms are now. It's SO different than when my kids were babies.

I'm not sure what the difference is, but I do know that refusing to expose your kids to germs is a bad thing. They NEED the exposure in order to become defensive against them. The more they are isolated, the sicker they're going to get when they finally pick something up.

2/18/08, 1:06 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Overall, I'm still on the nervous side of things, but we stopped sterilizing pacifiers after about a week, and now I can't remember when we last washed them with soap either.

It's hard to find soap that isn't anti-bacterial these days. Can't be good for the breeding of super bugs.

2/18/08, 1:29 AM  
Blogger Jozet at Halushki said...

I've reached a happy middle ground on this after having gone from one extreme to the other.

Some newborns - even non-preemies and even breastfed babies - can get horribly ill from run-of-the-mill germs that even a toddler could weather well. But, I think that run-of-the-mill hand washing after using the bathroom or wiping your nose on your hand would do well enough for picking up most newborns.

I mean, if one knows that they have an active MRSA infection or knows that they are Group B Strep positive, well those things can be absolutely...

Okay. Nevermind.

I've just revealed myself to be a hypochondriac, lol. Pass the Purell.

2/18/08, 4:06 AM  
Blogger Mahlers On Safari said...

More than 100 people held Jaden and Rowan before they were one month old and they probably accompanied me to resturants.

I think a good rule of thumb is to wash hands before holding a newborn (like under two months) and to ask people with colds not to get in a baby's face. But people these days are totally totally paranoid. It's just another piece of the madness of parenting in the new age.

2/18/08, 4:24 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Unless there's something 'wrong' with a child's immune system, basic germ exposure is not only a silly concern, it's essential if you want to build up their immune system. Studies have borne this out...children who aren't exposed to lots of germs in their first two years are more likely to be sicker down the line.

2/18/08, 5:15 AM  
Anonymous Shannon said...

There's clean and then there's paranoid. I always thought it was kind of fun to pick up a dropped pacifier from the floor, wipe it on my shirt, and give it back to the baby just to watch them squirm. Aside from teaching our kids good habits (washing hands frequently, covering mouths when coughing) you can't keep them from getting sick. I also think that getting a little sniffle now and then is good for building their immune systems. So you aren't alone! :)

2/18/08, 7:36 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

My children each flew on airplanes before the age of three weeks.

Germs, sherms.

2/18/08, 7:46 AM  
Blogger Kyla said...

I'm SLIGHTLY cautious with KayTar because GOOD LORD that kid gets sick enough. But, we don't use antibacterial products because I think that leads to a bigger problem. We just, you know, try to avoid sick people if we know they are sick, and wash our hands with soap. But yeah, I do think that the anti-germ movement might be causing long term trouble. Both directly (development of allergies) and indirectly (causing bacteria to become stronger).

2/18/08, 9:07 AM  
Blogger delaneydiariesmama said...

I'm one of those *gasp!* germaphobes and clearly in the minority here. But I wish, oh how I wish, I could just let go and not care about the germs like most of you. I want to be free of that worry and let the illnesses fall where they may. Maybe I'll get there one day. But, damn, it's such a struggle. I constantly worry about what my two-year-old is passing to my seven-week old. It's exhausting being such a freak about it.

2/18/08, 9:31 AM  
Blogger ❉ pixie ❉ said...

I'm with you. Germs are good.

2/18/08, 9:36 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

Totally with you here. And I have a professional opinion to back me up. My BIL is an oncologist and he also concurs.

I was never precious about that stuff. And anti-bacterial handwashes make you more susceptible to germs. The Poo gets sick occasionally, but don't we all?

I have to say, however, that when it comes to the rotovirus? I totally break out the bleach. I hate to barf.

2/18/08, 9:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I, like Jozet, have reached a happy middle ground. I don't let the existence of germs keep me from doing things that will make me and my children happy--like the McDonald's playland, for example.

I'm cautious with new babies since a sickness with them is so much worse than with a toddler. We just practice good hygiene, and I think that in and of itself goes a long way.

I have a friend who is absolutely fanatic about germs. If they leave the house, the first thing she does upon her arrival home is strip down all 3 children and give them baths. I've always thought that was a little extreme.

2/18/08, 10:09 AM  
Blogger delaneydiariesmama said...

OK. Not 10 minutes after I left my last comment my daughter barfed everywhere. And yesterday was the first time my husband let her ride in the grocery store cart without the cart cover. Coincidence? Perhaps. But my germaphobe ass isn't convinced. God, help me!

2/18/08, 10:29 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh no Delaney! Hope she's feeling better. (And I always wondered who the people were that used those cart covers. Maybe living in NYC we just expect our kids to be in contact with gross things 24/7.)

2/18/08, 10:40 AM  
Anonymous Lora said...

I was never a stickler about avoiding germs at all. The only time I really cared was when my son was 10 weeks old and had RSV. He was being baptized that weekend and we had a houseful of people and I did ask that everyone wash their hands before holding the baby. Otherwise, I didn't much care. And he's never been sick with anything major. Just last night, as we were eating dinner, I looked over at his hands and thought, "dang, I forgot to remind him to wash his hands"...they were grey and grubby from playing outside yet it didn't stop me from letting him eat his meal. Oh well...

2/18/08, 10:48 AM  
Blogger ALI said...

ok i'm a nurse and here is how i feel about it, germs are good. your body has to learn how to handle them, to fight virus and infection. wash your hands!

i will say this though, nurses fall into two camps-germaphobes or way relaxed...not much help!

liz-i'm having a contest to win a childrens book and noone is entering, want to check it out?

2/18/08, 10:56 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

All of my germphobia flew out the window when my baby began sucking the cart handle everytime we went to the grocery. They have to be exposed to germs to build up immunity, so I am not too worried about it. When I was still breastfeeding I would just shrug and think, "Ah - she gets plenty of protection from her breastmilk."

2/18/08, 11:24 AM  
OpenID uumomma said...

My girls are 14, 12 and 9 years old. They have survived---very Darwinian, I think. Survival of the fittest---and you must be fit to survive the germs in this house. Not a pig, but you wouldn't want to eat off just any surface here. Glad to find your site; glad to know I am not alone.

2/18/08, 11:30 AM  
Blogger Kim Eschler said...

I total agree.. We are causing more problems than we are preventing. Germs are good.. and necessary.

2/18/08, 11:34 AM  
Anonymous madge said...

I am the Anti-Germaphobe.

The only marginally germaphobic I do is wipe down the shopping cart handle before my kid spends the next 45 minutes gnawing on it. I mean, I've seen some of the charmers who shop at my grocery store. But a cover? Good lord, no.

No A/B soap. No Purell. Only spotty handwashing before eating.

2/18/08, 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Jill said...

I am all for clean hands before eating... but other than that, you may add me into that "lax" mommy who doesn't carry around wippies and sanatize the kids hands every few minutes.

Here is what I have noticed (just from my limited obeservation). The parents who are germ phobic and dillegently was their kids hands every few minutes, wind up with sick kids a LOT more often.

Now let's chat a minute about sending your obviously sick kid to school... now that one can get me going (actually, it has!). Keep the sick kids home. Keep the kids with green boogie noses at home. Don't worry so much about the healthy kids who have a little dirt on their hand!


... great post! :)

Jill

2/18/08, 11:46 AM  
Blogger INSANITY ENJOYED said...

Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in my non germaphobe status...and for a topic to blog on today!

2/18/08, 11:58 AM  
Blogger Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Well, after hearing about the long-in-the-fridge leftovers you grew up on, I'm not surprised you have a very low fear of germs and illness from them.

Ha!

No, I'm really not afraid of germs either. In fact, I purposely do not buy anti-bacterial soaps because they kill the good germs too.

2/18/08, 12:26 PM  
Blogger BOSSY said...

Please excuse Bossy while she picks her jaw off the floor. Wha?

2/18/08, 1:33 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

"But still, isn't this germ-phobia way out of control?"

Um, yes.

YES.

2/18/08, 1:37 PM  
Blogger Phoenix said...

You are not alone on this one. I am so not not a germ-aphobe. I figure some good germs, help keep us from catching everything under the sun. I don't buy anti-bactirial soap and I'll use public restrooms. However I do push cleaning your hands on my nieces.

2/18/08, 2:12 PM  
Blogger Phoenix said...

Oh I do have a friend who uses those Lysol wipes on her two year old. She's insane though.

2/18/08, 2:23 PM  
Blogger modmom said...

i was most careful the first 8 weeks, because the doctor said if she got a fever, she would have to be admitted to the hospital in the 1st 8 weeks.

i had to be very careful during chemotherapy because my white blood cell count was low + it still hasn't come all the way up. i'd rather prevent illness, than suffer through it.

2/18/08, 3:12 PM  
Blogger Molly said...

I'm so with you. When my son was a crawler, he was playing on my MIL's floor and picked something up and started chewing on it. It was something large and not a chocking hazard and I was feeling a little lazy and didn't do anythin abotu it.

SIL was horrified and, with eyes as round as saucers,said, "I bet that is really dirty! You should take it away from him. It's been on the floor!"

I just looked at her and said,"Uh, he spends his life on the floor. His hands are always on the floor."

She thinks I am a horrible mother.

2/18/08, 3:16 PM  
Blogger b said...

I'm very "meh" about germs. I let my 10 month old niece steal my oldest's pacifier out of her mouth, test it, and put in back. I just can't get excited about what "might" happen.

Now, when my 4 year old came down with the flu (yes, she had the shot), I stayed with her all night JUST IN CASE HER NECK STARTED HURTING AND SHE REALLY HAD MENINGITIS!!!!!

We all have our neurosis.

2/18/08, 3:33 PM  
Blogger caramama said...

Whenever this topic comes up, I always think of the book/movie(s) War of the Worlds. Just me?

Now, with a just-born infant, I don't think it can hurt to be a little careful, but that just means washing your hands and don't hold if you are sick. But other than that, ditto everyone who says that exposure to germs is overall good.

2/18/08, 3:35 PM  
Blogger Denice said...

I grew up on a farm, where dirty things and germs were a way of life. Pretty much everything I played with when I was a kid was covered in dirt or germs or both. And you know what? I hardly ever get a cold. Maybe once a year. And I attribute it to building a healthy immune system when I was a kid.

So . . . I let my 12-month-old pick up things off the floor and chew on them, pet dogs and cats, and I have been known to put the soother back in her mouth once dropped on the floor in the grocery store. And you know what? In her first year of life, she's had 2 colds. Not the 10 the books tell you they'll have. Just saying.

2/18/08, 3:42 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Nope. You're not alone at all.

2/18/08, 3:55 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Mod Mom, if I were in your funky, midcentury shoes - I'd do the exact same thing.

2/18/08, 3:57 PM  
Anonymous AGH said...

I think someone else already brought this up but if a baby less than 2 months old gets a temperature of 100.4 or more, they are automatically admitted to the hospital for a spinal tap and 48 hours of antibiotics while the spinal culture comes back. Any little cold can turn into meningitis. Take it from me - my 2 month old is on her 3rd week of antibiotics at the hospital for bacterial meningitis from a UTI.
I used to be very careless with my 2 year old and rarely sterilized, etc. Now, I will be all sorts of crazy-paranoid-phobic.

2/18/08, 4:00 PM  
Blogger Jane Maynard said...

I'm easily grossed out, and I AM careful until the babes get their first shots...HOWEVER...I just force myself to chill out. I rarely use the hand sanitizer in the diaper bag...oh, and are you supposed to wash pacifiers with soap?!? huh. ;) seriously, this is what I tell myself: "I'm alive and kickin'. They'll survive too."

I must admit I've looked at the grocery cart covers and thought, those are cute and that's probably smart...but then I forget and throw the kids in the cart - sans cover!!! AAAHH!! Everyone still has 10 fingers and toes.

and now that my first little cutie-patootie is potty-trained, I have to REALLY let go...public restrooms are our second home. there's just no hiding from those germs. may as well just close your eyes and hope for the best! ;)

2/18/08, 5:35 PM  
Blogger WkSocMom said...

We always joked we treated our first child like it was the 2nd, barely rinsed off the binky. Someone brought a spray to friends wedding, spraying everyone who got too close to her baby - it was hilarious. Uh, perhaps she could have left it at home :)

We duly washed our hands when asked, but then laughed later as our nurse friend was the only one who didn't require that, for her 4 day old. And studies have indeed shown more exposure to dirt and germs can lead to less sickness.

Rule in our house, if it doesn't have dog hair, it's still good.

2/18/08, 8:09 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

There's some truth to the saying "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." Eventually, little ones need exposure to germs so that their bodies can learn to fight them.

2/18/08, 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

My daughter ate dirt.

Ya, so I'm on the bad end of the spectrum too.

But she rarely ever gets sick. And she kisses the dog too.

2/18/08, 10:07 PM  
Anonymous pnuts mama said...

even with a kid who was a preemie, i don't think i was ever germ-crazy...maybe since she is a summer baby? i always asked folks to wash their hands and specifically not hold her if they were oozing goo or something but, meh, it is what it is...

i loved the story- we *still* haven't met our friends baby who was born before christmas because the mama is so paranoid about germs- and she has a daughter our kids age! it is sooo weird and i feel bad for her girl who hasn't been out of the house (for fear she will bring a germ home) since then!

p.s. i used the cart cover since it had a sewn on seat belt (kept the pnut upright) and as a cushion for her for when she'd knock her melon against the cart- also nice when it's cold outside to take the chill off.

2/18/08, 10:43 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yep, you're totally right. Germs are good for us, and we need them to keep our immune systems running well. If we don't have the little germs to fight on a daily basis, our bodies won't know what the hell to do when some more impressive germ comes along.

Living a germ-free existence is impossible, and those who try to live as aseptically as possible may be risking allergies and more serious illness as a result.

We keep things clean, but don't try to strive for a germ-free household.

(Although you'd better bet I wash my hands often when in clinical at the hospital. Hospitals are like the opposite of your neighbor's nursery - it's a breeding ground for new and exotic germs.)

2/18/08, 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Johnathan said...

Interesting to see this post juxtaposed with the lead contamination post. Who would like to compare the number of children disabled/killed by preventable infection with the number of children disabled/killed by lead contamination?

Of course, with lead contamination, it's cause for righteous fury because we expect someone else to deal with it. But because parents are expected to deal with their own children's snotty noses and filthy hands, ah well, people are just _way_ too uptight, am I right?

2/18/08, 11:23 PM  
Blogger Staci Schoff said...

Well, I am a germophobe, even though I believe germs are good and I don't carry hand-sanitizer around. I'm germophobe-lite, I guess.

I would make fun of that contraption but I just never peed in public restrooms when I had babies. Never. Which is probably equally ridiculous.

Now as my kids got older I had to learn to just let it go. They go to school, their friends are gross -- they like animals, nothing I can do about that.

Mostly I manage fine, until we're in a public restroom. Me and kids and public restroom equals a bad bad bad experience had by all.

2/19/08, 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

I got this card at one of my baby showers for TQ, oh so many years ago. The gist of it was that with the first kid, you're a total freak and boil every pacifier that has ever touched anything but your baby's mouth, with the second you just wipe the pacifier off with your shirt if you suspect that tumble onto the floor may have gotten it dirty. And with the third, you just let the dog lick the dirt off of it.

I'd have to say that's fairly accurate, no? I guess your neighbor didn't get that card :)

2/19/08, 12:53 AM  
Anonymous TechMama said...

Hey, did anyone hear of soap and water. Really - washing hands is the most important thing... Germaphobe parents who keep their kids away from all germs as a baby explode the first time they go to preschool (a.k.a germ farm).

2/19/08, 1:08 AM  
Blogger Sharla Carbine (Merryweather) said...

I have been blog surfing for way way too long tonight (morning?) but this is the first time all night I have actually laughed out loud! (I hope I don't wake up my sleeping boys.) All I can say is AMEN SISTAH! My twin boys are almost ten months and are only happy when they are crawling and eating the breakfast they dropped on the floor that they didn't want to eat that morning. So you tell me.... am I the worst Mom ever?

2/19/08, 2:45 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I'm with you on the germs but I never could figure out what I was supposed to do with my kid while I used a public restroom. Holding him while peeing was not a problem, but how was I supposed to get my pants off?

And the floor in a public restroom is a little gross. C'mon. Admit it.

2/19/08, 2:59 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Aw Johnathan, I know you're always raring for a libertarian-minded scuffle and I wish I had the time to get into it right now but I'm too paralyzed by irrational fears to lift a finger.

(ha.)

I don't think that we have any obligation to base our fears on the number of children "killed" from any said fear. Fears are by definition not rational.

I choose to be angered by (and yes, a little fearful of) lead paint contamination not because "we expect someone else to deal with it" but because when someone sells us a product that's supposed to be free from lead, guaranteed by a manufacturer and seconded by a taxpayer-funded government agency, that product should actually be free from lead. Crazy, I know.

The best way to avoid illness from germs is to wash your kids' hands. The best way to avoid lead paint contamination from toys is what... avoid toys? I've gotta believe there's a better solution.

2/19/08, 8:41 AM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Maybe your neighbor had a bad experience with her first baby getting sick that has set her off.

I am a firm proponent of the hygiene hypothesis regarding allergies, and I therefore encourage my kid to dig in the dirt and I let him eat crackers he dropped on the floor.

But when he was a week old, born two weeks early, skinny, and jaundiced, a friend of mine called asking to see the new baby. He happened to mention he'd been sick, but he believed he was over it. I said, "Well, come on over if you're not sick anymore. Just be sure to wash your hands before you touch the baby, just to be on the safe side."

This friend showed up with a hacking wet cough and proceeded to amuse himself by sticking his unwashed fingers in my newborn baby's mouth.

And my son spent the next two weeks having his nose suctioned out and sprayed with salt water four times a day, and sleeping in his car seat right next to a humidifier on doctor's orders, because if he lay on his back in the crib to sleep, he could barely breathe. And I spent the next two weeks not sleeping at all at night, listening to my newborn baby wheeze.

So, if I ever have another baby, please forgive me when I'm passing out the hand sanitizer at the door, Coughers will not be admitted. (Cute pre-schoolers will, though, as long as they wash their hands.)

2/19/08, 12:19 PM  
Blogger Jaelithe said...

Oooh comma splice-- I hate that. Trust me folks, that was meant to be a period. My hand slipped.

2/19/08, 12:22 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I can't get over the picture of the baby hanging from the door of a stall enough to come up with a coherent response...

2/19/08, 2:17 PM  
Blogger Daycare Girl said...

I completely agree for my personal kids. I do have an in-home daycare and I try to be a little germophobic on the other parents' behalf though. Lots of parents are quick to blame any sickness their kids get on the daycare. :) Personally I'm blaming all the grocery carts they're licking.

2/19/08, 2:29 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

I have to admit that last week, I used germ-avoidance as a tactic to bar an annoying child from coming over to play. But I know darn well that can't be your neighbor's angle.

And I have to admit that I find all of those grocery cart seat covers we feature to be a little silly. I think they should market subway seat covers instead - for both children and adults.

2/19/08, 2:39 PM  
Blogger Susan Getgood said...

Try having a spouse who is the exact opposite of you on the whole germ thing. I'm pretty much with you, a few germs are good for you and the 5 second rule can be extended if the item is especially tasty. My husband on the other hand should own stock in Purell and asks not only my son but also me if I've washed my hands for dinner. And other times.

It's a joke, but not entirely, that one day he'll start wearing gloves like Howard Hughes.

2/19/08, 3:52 PM  
Blogger Amy@UWM said...

A non-germaphobe here too. It such a time saver to not be compelled to wash everything in sight.

2/19/08, 7:42 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Sorry if someone already said this as I didn't read the comments above mine but one of the theories behind the increase in childhood allergies is the idea of a too clean society. With all this "germ phobia" and the rise of antibacterial everything, our kids bodies are starting to reject and fight off "safe" things.

2/19/08, 8:52 PM  
Blogger furiousBall said...

and THAT is why i put in a chemical shower in my foyer.

2/19/08, 10:55 PM  
Blogger lisa said...

Whenever people comment on how our toddler has never been sick, we say "It's because we let her chew on shoes."

2/20/08, 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to the increase in allergies that Joanne mentioned, a lot of studies are linking over-sanitizing children with asthma and many other serious illnesses. And the earlier kids are exposed to dirt and germs, the better off they are in most of these studies.

Some of these comments are too funny, though.

2/20/08, 11:27 AM  
Anonymous jennie said...

when we're in bathrooms, I tell my kids not to touch stuff and we wash our hands well when we're done. we wash our hands a few times a day, I tell them not to eat things that are obviously gross like dirty snow. but other than that, I try not to talk about germs and gross things a lot. I don't want them to be sick from germs, but I also don't want them to become crazy(or crazier, whatever).

2/20/08, 11:54 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

At my New Moms groups which was led by a public health nurse, she gave an example of a new Mom who tried to keep her baby in a sterile environment, the nurse said the baby eventually became seriously ill...the baby didn't have natural immunities to ward off common germs, etc. So with my two I wasn't a germaphobe, but definitely make sure they wash hands before they eat and don't touch anything in public washrooms. Common sense goes a long way to prevent illness.

2/20/08, 12:25 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I think we're sort of middle ground. With my first, I made everyone scrub their hands first..for like three whole weeks. I brought her to the grocery store within a week of her birth. I boiled everything she put in her mouth for the first month of her life. After that, I calmed down a lot. She DID get very sick with RSV and that was awfully scary. It couldn't have been prevented though, short of sealing her off in some vacuum, as my husband brought it home when I was pregnant with her and he and I were both very sick with it for something like three months off and on..

With my second, I didn't really sterilize anything(he was breast exclusively for the first month anyway). I keep things reasonably clean and otherwise don't do much else. If a toy falls on the floor in the public place, I don't let him put it back in his mouth, because that kind of makes me want to vomit. I was a zoology/biology major during my somewhat brief stint in college and I learned about all the lovely things which can infest us. blarg. We also use a cart cover, but I don't use hand sanitizer and I almost always forget to make them wash their hands before eating.

So, they do come into contact with what I would consider and healthy amount of ickies, but I do tend to avoid high risk type situations...especially since we can't use cold medicine anymore..and a little someone does.not.sleep. when he has a stuffy nose.

2/20/08, 12:47 PM  
Blogger gwendomama said...

this is a tough one.
i used to be on your side of the fence 100%. germs=good.
my first child was exposed to many germs. i took her to class with me when i taught 16+toddlers at a time. but then my second came along and he was...well...fragile.
and the worst location of our ped's office was full of disgustingly filthy toys. one day, we had to take both fragile baby and busy toddler to the icky office. we kept a short leash on busy toddler but she still touched the disgustingness they called toys and refused to wipe down or clean despite our many pleas.
2 days later, busy toddler came down with nasty bronchial infection but recovered.
her brother (fragile baby) caught the exact same virus.
but he died.


so....with #3 baby, after all that, we were those psycho parents for about 4 months.
have patience. you don't always know what someone else has been through.

2/20/08, 4:41 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thank you for sharing your story Gwendomama. My heart goes out to you.

2/20/08, 4:49 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

No, you're absolutely right. They need to develop an immune system, and they can't do that in a sterile environment.

Pumpkinpie gets licked by dogs, too. She loves it. I love that she's not scared of them.

But are you supposed to wash pacifiers? oops.

2/20/08, 4:51 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I'm not germ phobic in the least. Can't tell you how many times Myles has gotten his pacifier back after throwing it on the floor. I follow the face up/face down rule. Face up, he gets it back immediately, face down when we're out, it gets a cursory rinse in whatever water source I have handy. Face down at home, usually But public restrooms skeeve me out so I've gotten expert at lining the toilet seat, peeing and wiping with one hand all while holding Myles. I'd by lying if I said I hadn't considered hanging him by his Osh-kosh off the purse hook on the back of the door.

2/21/08, 9:23 AM  
Blogger Shalet said...

I must admit I've never seen the baby hanger thingy-ma-bobber. Crazy!

All I have to say is germs shmerms. I strongly believe in self-innoculation - the kids want to eat off the floor let 'em eat off the floor. In our over zealous germ-fighting world we are creating super bugs that may very well be our ultimate demise.

Would I let my kids eat off the toilet? Probably not (although it may be cleaner than places they do eat). And, so far so good - hopefully they will actually have immunity should they encounter these bugs the next time; unlike some kids who are over-protected and thus vulnerable despite their parents' best intentions.

3/2/08, 1:56 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

LOVE the post!!! I am a mommy of 7 living children and 1 angel baby. My twins were born in May 07 at just 23 weeks gestation! Sadly, my son, Nick passed away, but Kenny is our little fighter! We are FOREVER going through bottles and bottles of hand sanitizer, wipes, etc... But no matter what we do, he still gets really sick. I think most of that has to do with his lungs that were damaged from being so early and being intubated for so long! It is a very hard and long road...these winter (RSV) months. I love reading your posts!

1/30/09, 4:34 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home