Denali National Park and Preserve, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Science has finally confirmed what most parents already know: playing outside in the dirt is actually good for kids. Studies show that when kids play in the dirt and sand, they’re exposed to germs that their bodies wouldn’t experience in a more sterile, indoor environment.
University of Chicago research scientist Jeff Gilbert, co-author of Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Developing Your Child’s Immune System, stated in an interview with NPR that what parents have long been told about dirt and germs is simply wrong.
Hygiene is important, of course, but letting your kids play in sand and dirt will actually boost their immune systems by exposing them to new organisms and germs. This helps your child’s immune system learn to fight off new bugs. Bathing them in hand sanitizer and keeping them super clean all the time does the opposite; their immune system never learns how to fight off intruders, leaving them more susceptible not only to illness, but to autoimmune diseases, such as asthma. Bottom line: you want the best for your kids? Let them get dirty!
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