Improve Your Child's Gut Health in 5 Simple Steps: Step 3

Gut health series recap:

  • A healthy gut = a healthy child
  • More "bad bugs" than "good bugs" (gut dysbiosis) = physical, mental and emotional disorders
  • Neurological disorders like SPD, ASD and ADHD have been linked to gut dysbiosis
  • There are certain factors that put your child at higher risk for gut dysbiosis
  • There are specific things you can do to reverse gut dysbiosis

We've covered two of the five steps in improving your child's gut health: replace gut-irritating foods with gut-healing foods and supplement with a high-quality probiotic.

Let's dive into...

Step 3: Ditch the Antibacterial Soap (Make Dirt Your Friend!)

It seems that everywhere we turn - the doctor’s office, grocery stores, classrooms, public bathrooms - there’s a bottle of antibacterial hand gel beckoning us to give it a pump.

And we moms are the perfect targets! There’s nothing like having kids to get you on the antibacterial bandwagon.

Before kids, I’d never given germs much thought and the only hand sanitizers I’d owned were those cute, yummy smelling ones from Bath and Body Works- you know, the ones that were part of the buy 2 get 1 free deal.

After I had H, I stock piled those bad boys. You could find one in every room of my house, every purse I owned, my diaper bag, my car console...if you wanted to even look at my child, you were gettin’ a couple pumps.

True Story: The Christmas after H was born, we went to get a picture with Santa (H was three months old). As Santa reached out his arms to hold H, I simultaneously reached into my diaper bag, pulled out my hand sanitizer and gave his hands a couple pumps.

Santa’s startled expression didn’t phase me in the slightest. My husband, nearly dying of embarrassment, shot me the what in the hell are you doing? look to which I indignantly mouthed, What? and went along my merry (no pun intended) way.

If I’d known then what I know now, I could've saved a pretty penny (and my husband’s embarrassment!): Cleaner isn’t always better.

Starting in infancy, kids have a natural desire to play in the dirt and put dirty objects in their mouths.

In her book, Why Dirt is Good, microbiology and immunology instructor Mary Ruebush explains, “What a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment.” In doing this, he’s both strengthening his immune system and teaching it what to ignore.

We are born with immature immune systems which need instruction- exposing our kids to dirt and germs gives their immune systems a proper education.

Studies have shown that kids who grow up on farms and/or with pets have fewer allergies and asthma. On the flip side, research shows that “the widespread use of disinfecting and antibacterial products is preventing proper formation of healthy gut bacteria.”

So... let’s stop the war on germs and dirt and embrace their gut-health benefits!

Here are some simple ways you can do this for your kids (think less Stewie from Family Guy, more Pigpen from Charlie Brown):

  • Let them play outside barefoot
  • Encourage dirt play (in areas that don’t have chemicals)
  • Create a home garden and let your kids do the planting
  • Trade your antibacterial soap for natural soap
  • Trade chemical-laden cleaning supplies for non-toxic, natural ones
  • Do bathtime every other night (or if it’s part of your bedtime routine, skip the soap)

If throwing out your antibacterial hand sanitizers go against every fiber of your mom-being, remember our mottos (from Step 1): Rome wasn't built in a day and Progress not perfection.

Start small. Maybe skip bathtime tonight or toss the extra hand sanitizer in your purse. Your child's gut will thank you.

Leave your questions and comments below, the Sensory Mom community and I would love to hear from you.

Coming your way- Step 4 to improving your child's gut health.


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Hi! I'm Cameron, mom of two incredible, "differently-wired" boys who have sensory processing challenges, wife of a nerdy surfer, mindfulness practitioner and Parenting Coach with master's degrees in education and psychology.