Imagine: Your child comes in from playing outdoors covered in mud. What's your reaction? Frantically scrub them clean, or just wash their hands and call it good?
"The idea that bacteria is bad isn't necessarily true. The bigger issue is making sure the immune system is healthy enough to be able to fight what comes your way," said Mercedes Turino, a first-time mom and owner/Hollistic Health Coach at Healthy Intuition.
As a parent, most people feel that keeping their children germ-free is ideal. But pediatricians and health officials say today's children may be too clean for their own good.
According to the Center for Disease Control, evidence is growing that dirt and germs can protect against disease and that our indoor-based, ultra-clean lifestyles are bad for our health.
The CDC also say asthma, eczema, hay fever and childhood diabetes are all being fuelled by childhoods in which youngsters rarely roll in the mud, splash in puddles or play with animals.
"If we're playing outside before lunchtime, I'm going to bring her in and I'm going to wash her hands and face before she sits down and eats. But if we're going to go back outside after lunch, there's no point in bringing her in, give her a bath, make her food, bring her outside, and take her in for another bath ," said Chelsea Marta, mother.
"I think that kids being exposed to other kids and being exposed to germs is a positive thing for their long-term health," Turino said.
And what about vitamins? Is it healthier to not take them? Pediatricians say vitamins from supplements do not act in the body the same way as vitamins from foods, so it's better to just eat right. But if you have a picky eater, a vitamin may be the right choice.
Doctors and health officials say it's okay t o take a vitamin. However, you want to make sure it's natural and not synthetic. If the back label says it contains whole numbers for your daily value, such as 50 percent or 100 percent, it's fake. But if it has numbers such as 77 percent or 46 percent, it's natural.
The bottom line is, there is such a thing as being too clean, and it's okay for kids to be exposed to germs.
But that doesn't mean you can skip the hand-washing.