Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Well, actually expose them, really , for you it’s a bit late as you have built up or not your immunities and the only advice that I can offer you is carry your two epi pens if needed and if suffering from hay fever, invest in local honey and swallow a spoonful every day in summer to help ward off the itchy eye and streaming nose. And you as an adult have a whole host of drugs to get you through all the nasties you pick up.
But for your wee ones there is a world of allergies, bugs, germs to get. And its up to you to stop the allergies forming, allow the bugs to work for your child not against and to wash the germs off after they have served their purpose.
For allergies, I am not talking the family heirloom ones like allergic to some deadly stuff like bee stings, asthma and peanut butter or tree nuts. Ones that you are born with. I mean the ones that occur in every day life and due to parents being too precious about their kids, they all now suffer from. That quote about parents being too precious comes straight out of the mouth of Londons leading allergy specialist, who said to me in his waiting room that its great for business but boy parents have to let their kids get dirty. ( to pop in context , I was there with a wee one who was born with tree nut intolerance enough to warrant epi pens , I let her get dirty trust me )!
And that‘s what he said that some are not doing and we need to do, expose your kids to everything, get down and dirty outside, crawl around in nature and muck. Let them inhale ,ingest and infuse with nature.
So here are some ideas for you to see where I am going with this ....
Get outside, summer is here, yah , maybe for a few days only but right now , I should be outside topping up my vitamin D and so should you and your baby. Here I was told to give her supplements for sunshine ! This was an alien concept for me, being from NZ, there we are told to get out of the sun , not actively run towards it. But no Northern hemisphere doesn't really get enough sun time and we as a result have depleted Vitamin D. So yes to supplements and a bigger yes to getting outside. I still advocate slip slop slap ( t shirt, suncream , hat ) but get some skin time as well. Pop the suncream on, especially the bottoms of their feet , my wee one is crawling, the soles of her feet are exposed all the time and I don't want her having burnt tootsies. Rumour has it you need to have skin exposed for 15 mins to absorb the vitamins you need.
Get on the grass, like when they are learning to experience their world they also need to be exposed to their world, so go touch as much as you can , roll around in hay if you can find any. Shoes off and let them get dirty in the soil, or crawl along the garden path , feel the grass between the toes and stick flowers on their nose. All of this is fun , but it is at the same time building up resilience to grass spores, pollen, hay fever intolerances, pollutants in the soil from pollutions that come down in the rain. Like I said above once old enough ( recommended over a year old ) then introduce honey to your Childs diet. And if you can find local honey from bees in your area all the better. Honey has so many medicinal properties, its high in antioxidants, has antiseptic and antibacterials in it. Honey is a miracle cure, on its own spoonful can cure most illness like coughs and colds, mixed with garlic is great for digestions and most importantly immunity. It's also rather lovely on toast and how can Winnie the Pooh be wrong ?
Pat everything, If you have pets, or not, don't shy away from letting and getting your child involved in their care and cuddles. Don't worry to much about the cat hair on the couch and the dog scratching themselves next to the baby. Let them and get them to bury their hands and faces right in the pet hair. Exposure to this is invaluable to building up immunities, and side stepping allergies and breathing problems associated with animal fur / pelt / hair. Once they are big enough get them to a petting farm or zoo , let them touch all the animals, the lambs, bunnies, horses , etc. Wash their hands after but exposure is the key
Don't worry about the dusting, another allergy that is on the rise is dust. We are being too clean , these people obviously have help, for me, it's a losing battle with dust and I try but not too much as exposure to dust is good for the body. Breathing in all the skin flakes and dirt particles ( yuk when you break it down ) for a bit, not constantly helps to build up resistance in wee ones lungs. So I hear by give you permission not to over clean. Letting them crawl around on the floor, get their hands into everything turns out is good for baby and good for mummy, that 20 mins that you were going to clean , you can now relax.
Peanut butter, even if there is an allergy in the family, it may not be passed down. The best way to help your wee ones taste it and see if it is a problem, is to first put some on their skin, its called a patch test. Then to ( if there was no welt or reaction ) pop a wee bit on the inside of their lip. Wait and see, no reaction slather it on hot toast and away you go. Of course if you are worried and or there is family history, have your GP run the patch and lip test in surgery where there is help at hand if they have a reaction. As I have said previously my last job had an allergy to tree nuts ( pistachios and cashews ) she has an epi pen for them if exposed. But we were told by aforementioned Dr in London above to keep her eating as much as possible mango and papaya as they are the cousins of tree nuts. To help her build up her immunity to expose her to them, she got a wee red rash on her mouth that he said to keep feeding her and the body would balance it out. It did and she is 6 years later undergoing tests to see if she has outgrown the 'nut' allergy too.
Eggs and Dairy - This one is by trial and error as such, unless there is a family history , you never know if your baby digestion is going to accept other animals products. If we think about it, we are drinking another mammals milk, designed for another baby. We don't when finished breast feeding continue to produce milk and give it to the cat. So it is easy to understand why peoples stomachs can be a bit funny with it. Once you get your head around that ( and I am by no means Vegan , but they do have point )! You can introduce things like cows milk slowly in to baby's diet. Maybe in porridges, cereals, then yogurts and cheese etc later, but do each one separately as to not over load the system and then you can see if there is an intolerance.
Eggs too are a touch and. Go, I had one toddler who we waited till she was 18 months old to give her eggs, one bite of omelette and we were in A&E as she had a very quick and violent reaction. Hence me and Mum learning to make egg free recipes and baked goods very quickly. The same scenario as peanut butter, try a patch test first then a wee bite and introduce that food only, one week so if there is a reaction you know immediately. There are many alternatives for both and also encouragements to keep incorporating the food groups in to their diet over the years to build up immunity as children can and will grow out of some of these.
Mud Kitchens, Sand pits and Sharing spit. We've all made mud pies and if you didn't your missing out and need to do it with your kids. There are even people out there that will make you a kitchen out of palettes for a reasonable price. But winter or summer, get some dirt , some old saucepans , wooden spoons , add water and mix. This gives your wee ones of any age a wonderful dirty activity in which to create, get mucky and expose themselves to all sorts of nasties that can get washed away with a hot bath or a hose down.
-Sand pits, so much fun , be it the beach or a playground or your own personal one. You can bury your feet, build cities in the sand or just let it run between your fingers. But do be aware they are full of germs, lovely germs that pass easily between kids. Beaches of course you've got all sorts walking on it and being washed up. Playground sand pits , the sand isn't changed out too often , probably like your own personal one , and things like threadworms, lay their eggs on the sand and get transferred to wee ones tummies causing an itchy bottom. All good childhood fun and one like nits you won't escape. And like nits there are a lot of good remedies in local pharmacies to combat all the symptoms and problems.
Sharing spit- unless you wash your toys before and after every play date your will ever have, and muzzle your child at other people house and anywhere they go, sharing spit with other is inevitable. But its good, kids get colds, and coughs, childhood rashes and illness, all off bodily fluids from their friends and it is invaluable to building up immunity and defences in their childhood years that will see them through to adulthood. As well as shots, actually getting some of these rashes and minor aliments can help them to not get worse ones. Not getting chicken pox and measles and mumps etc and getting sick as an adult can depending on the virus be very uncomfortable to getting it 10 fold to life threatening. Funny story when I was looking after a brother and sister many moons ago. I phoned up school to say they would not be in due to chickenpox. With in hours every one of their friends mums had called asking if they could expose their child to mine so they could get it and get it out of the way. We ended up having a chickenpox party, my kids sucked on 20 lollipops and handed them out. Whole classes of kids got a milder strain , a few days off school and bobs your uncle.
I know that us mums are in two minds between keeping our kids germ free and clean and trying to give them a fighting chance at not being afraid and allergic to everything or allowing then to get sick rather than shielding them to stay well. It is a battle everyday with sticky fingers and putting undesirables in their mouths and good clean fun. Getting immunisations to leaving them unprotected on purpose. I say get down and dirty with a wet cloth waiting at the end of the play or day. Let them get the bugs and in turn the resistance with some tender loving care on the couch and calpol from you. Best of both worlds