Germ-Free Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy: Is Your Child Getting Too Exposed To Germs At School?
Its back to school time and your child is getting ready to get a whole lot of learning and a whole lot of dirtying done. If your child is just starting out in school, book an appointment with a pediatrician in Doha to get a full checkup of your child’s health.
So, What Are Germs?
Officially it is a microorganism that causes disease. We all know about germs and where to find them, but are we really convinced that keeping our children germ-free the best thing for them?
Here are a few benefits to your child getting early exposure to germs:
Everyone basically knows this but if you don’t, here’s exactly how you can develop stronger immunity when exposed to germs. Several studies have shown that children who are more or less exposed to germs when they are infants are far more likely to have strong immunity towards everyday germs, like the ones you get touching objects around the house or outside in a playground.
Few scientists’ theories reflect on the concept of immunity to being something that all humans inherently have within them as they are born. However, many of these theories are challenged with experiments that prove that a germ-free environment may in fact not allow the child to ever be in contact with microbes that can make them sick. Basically, being in a germ-free environment is virtually impossible and don’t allow your child to develop or sharpen their immune system to fight off diseases.
Recent studies have shown that mice that were exposed to disease microbes after being germ-free and in a sterile lab were more likely to develop cells that tried to fight off the microbes and in turn actually left them with more complicated diseases like asthma or inflammatory bowel disease.
Parents that overthink and over clean tend to always be stressed out over their child getting messy. It is natural to be a little skeptical of the germs that your child is in contact with and try to keep them from going out and exploring the leaves on the ground or the rain. However, letting your child explore might actually allow them to develop a strong sense of fun and a strong immunity at the same time. Let your child taste the seatbelt in the car or soothe their teething on the shopping cart handle. Not of course if it really looks filthy!
Avoid the over-use of wet wipes or antibacterial gels and soaps. All the ads you see on TV of cleaning products that kill all germs are just a way for you to use them to not get sick further. However, avoid using them on your child’s skin. Over-use of sanitizers can inadvertently inhibit their immune development. Make sure that you educate your child and show them how to wash their hands properly and how to have fun with it.
Your child needs to go out and explore the world both on their own and with other children their age. Allowing your child to have friends over and making a mess can be great for their immune system, and their mental health. Your child will bond with other over playground games than worry about all the germs that he/she might bring into the house. Exposing your child to pets or taking them to a petting zoo can also encourage them to communicate freely without the worry of cleanliness. Playing outside not only offers your child a chance to explore but also get valuable nutrients like vitamin D from the sun and allows them to drink lots of water after they get some exercise.
Likelihood of Trying New Things
Not worrying too much about germs can actually allow you to try new things like outdoor adventures, or different foods. If you are always monitoring your child to what they should and should not touch, then they are less likely to venture off and try new things later. You can take this opportunity to open yourself up to new adventures as well, who knows, you might just like it!
Ask your pediatrician about more benefits to getting a bit dirty!
How can we minimize getting sick in times of high stress ?
Obviously being back in school requires your child to be focused and much more well rested. Your child is required to get vaccinated and be at their up most health to meet old and new friends. This means that you need to make sure that they limit their contact with intensely germy places so that they don’t get really sick for their first few days. Here are a few places where germs collect:
Restaurant tables and condiments
You would think that a place that hires people to clean would actually have somewhat of a germ-free establishment. Actually it is the absolute opposite. Not that all the restaurants are dirty, but that sometimes the staff may not have enough time to properly clean everything all the time. Help your child clean their hands before and after eating food to ensure no germs get into their stomachs before back to school season.
The family pet may be vaccinated and well-groomed but they can still cause some diseases. A scratch, a lick, or maybe just the pet shedding can cause issues to your child from irritated skin to infections. Let your child be careful when petting the pet to be fully healthy and scratch-free for school.
Toothbrush holder/ bathroom sink
One of the most germy places in your bathroom is your toothbrush holder. These carry lots of germs from your mouth and your child’s mouth. Dentists recommend that you replace your tooth brush every 6 months to ensure it is fully safe to use. Pediatricians recommend that you keep the toothbrush at least 5 feet away from the flushing toilet to ensure no germs get close to it.
Teach your child to use toilet paper in public to clean the rim of the toilet seat. At home you can also teach them to clean after themselves to ensure that no contaminations or infections are caused by this very germy location.
Everyone touches this little area. They push down on the dispenser sometimes even before running their hands under the water. Most of the time, the soap dispenser is probably discolored or even have pieces of food or dirt on it. Make sure you remind your child to wash it down and wipe it down to ensure it is clean for the next use.
If you have carpets, tell your child to take their shoes off by the door. The dust alone, that the carpet collects is enough to make you and your child sick. Imagine all the dirt that collects on the soles of your shoes. Your child who plays on the floor or sits there to pet your pets will more than likely get a whiff of these germs.
Electronics – cell phones/I-pads/tablets
Wipe down your cellphone and your child’s electronics with an antibacterial wipe to ensure they are clean. Your cellphone is ranked as even dirtier than your own toilet. The germs seem to collect intensely on your screen as you are constantly using it.
Sanitary Tips To Teach Your Child For The Next Year
Easy ways to clean surfaces from contamination
Avoid providing your child antibacterial wipes and sanitizer gels. Teach your child the proper ways to wash their hands and ways to brush off dirt or clean it off with water. This can help also with the sink and toilet in the bathrooms at school.
Make sure that your child knows not to sit on a dirty toilet seat. However, if they must, teach them a simple way to make sure it is safe. Wipe the toilet seat down with dry toilet paper, then again with wet ones, and then again dry it. After that put some toilet paper around the seat and there you have it a semi-clean seat. Although this is not environmentally friendly, it is still safer than letting your child get an infection or worse.
Food exchange assurance
Make sure you teach your child how to read food labels. Talk to them about the dangers of consuming too much sugar or caffeine. Tell them to replace sugary drinks with water, and make sure you provide them with a healthy lunch.
Check out the full Back to School series!