Toys on the Kitchen Floor: Building Baby’s Immune System and a Germaphobic Mommy

Exersaucer with Toys in the KitchenHow often do you clean your children’s toys? I started thinking about how often I wash Poppy’s toys the other day while loading the dishwasher. To keep her occupied while I am cooking or cleaning in the kitchen, I put my daughter in her exersaucer in the middle of the (small) room. In addition to the toys that are part of the exersaucer, she also has a teething ring, toy keys, a cup, a baby spoon, measuring spoons, an eggbeater, a small spatula, and a container with a lid to play with that I keep on her exersaucer.

As all babies do, Poppy has discovered the joy of dropping her play things on the floor. While I am working in the kitchen, she drops her toys to the ground, and I pick them back up again. For the most part, I just glance at the object for noticeable dirt or yuckiness before giving it back to her. Once I hand it back, my daughter happily puts it back into her mouth before tossing it back down to the floor.

I am the first person to admit that I am a serious germaphobe. I am terrified of germs to the point that sometimes I have trouble dealing with being out in public. I also suffer from moderate to severe allergies, which my mother admits is partially her fault. She used to keep our home sterilized when I was a baby. One of the leading theories about the cause of allergies is the hygiene theory which basically states that people need to be exposed to germs to prevent their bodies from developing autoimmune disorders such as allergies. As a new mother who does not want her daughter to have allergies if at all possible, I am doing my best to expose my daughter to the germs that her immune system needs to stay healthy.

Yes, I still do clean her toys occasionally. Every so often, I toss one of the toys that frequently gets dropped on the kitchen floor into the dish washer. After all, the kitchen floor is not the cleanest place in the world what with the back door nearby and the litter box just around the corner and not to mention all the food and crumbs and drinks that get dropped on the tiles. And, yes, I try not to think about all the times that Poppy has hit the side of the garbage can with one of her play things. And, yes, sometimes I have to pull a cat hair off of one of her drool-covered toys. But I digress.

The point that this germaphobic mommy is trying to make is that babies need to be exposed to germs to build their immune systems. So, instead of sanitizing each and every toy the minute that it hits the kitchen floor, I am trying my hardest to stay relaxed. After all, I do not want my baby to suffer from the same horrible allergies as I do. The next time that a toy gets tossed to the floor, I will simply hand it back to my daughter with a good cleaning in between only every now and then.

How vigilant are you about cleaning your baby’s toys? Do you agree that a few germs are good for the immune system?

Image Credits

Exersaucer with Toys in the Kitchen © 2012 Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson is a mother, wife, writer, librarian, and linguist. She earned a BA in English studies with a minor in creative writing from Illinois State University in May 2007, an MS in library and information science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2009, and an MS in English studies with an emphasis in linguistics at Illinois State University in December 2011.

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