It’s just a little bit of dirt right? Or is it ? “Nooo! Stop eating that. Don’t you know how many germs are in there!” These are just two common reactions from parents the world over when you discover your child with a mouthful of… something.
Children do the craziest things as part of their exploration of life and learning. Things that make us grownups cringe scream and sometimes cry.
The simple truth is kids aren’t engineered to be safe. They don’t arrive in the world with a rule book from the health & safety police telling us what we should and shouldn’t do at the age of three. That’s what parents and guardians are there for, right?
So when is “safe” too safe?
What about eating dirt?
Erica Gibson-Staneland, an anthropologist at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., has found that geophagy (eating dirt) might be good for you. It is more often found in cultures that do not practice dairying. Dairy products like milk and cheese would provide important dietary calcium -- when these are absent, pregnant women may seek other sources. "It's about women lacking nutrients or women in impoverished conditions who don't have access to health care, adapting," said Gibson-Staneland. "In Africa, they eat the dirt from termite mounds," she added, noting that the dirt and clays from termite mounds are rich in minerals.
So perhaps our kids eating a little dirt, with its calcium and minerals might not be such a bad idea?
What about eating soap?
When it comes to eating soap however, it doesn’t seem to be reason to panic, although it isn’t recommended. Could there be some good in it? Depending on the type of soap.
Glycerin based soaps contain glycerol which has been shown to be an effective means of delaying dehydration and exhaustion during exercise(1). There may been some sense in our grandmothers insistence on washing out our potty mouths with soap.
And then there’s the tastiest…..boogers
Most parents can relate to the fact that as much as we want our kids to stay healthy & safe, their curiosity, ignorance and imitations are just always going to be a part of growing up.
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While we can’t control what mud, dirt, creepy crawlies our kids put in their mouths, having a safe trampoline can offer peace of mind when letting them play out in the backyard. Let’s face it, one less thing to worry about for mum and dad.
van Rosendal, SP, Osborne, MA, Fassett, RG, & Coombes, JS 2009, 'Physiological and performance effects of glycerol hyperhydration and rehydration', Nutrition Reviews, vol. 67, no. 12, pp. 690-705.