Help Needed: How Convince Spouse to Stop Overprotecting Baby?

This hkkyzydyni
dad cannot be the only person out there who wonders how much a baby can handle in terms of dirt and bumps:
Dear Free-Range Kids:
Please direct to where I can find research, or better yet, documentaries about what minor risks that you don’t need to worry about with infants — like if they hit their head while playing with a chair, or touch a slipper or an unvacuumed floor. My frustrated son is counting on you.
My wife is overprotective but it’s just because she is misguided. Like a lot of people, she thinks that you need to protect infants from very slight contact with tiny amounts of dirt. If you take this to its logical conclusion — that infants are completely fragile — then you should keep them in sterile padded cells.
I have a feeling there isn’t anything out there saying otherwise, because children safety researchers don’t care that millions of parents are probably unnecessarily worrying and wasting energy, and their infants are being unnecessarily denied learning opportunities and fun.
Yours Sincerely, Michael C.
Poor guy (big and little). I agree that there are probably millions upon millions of overworried parents, in part because they’re wired that way, and in part because they are surrounded by a culture that knows it can sell anything — even shopping cart liners for babies to sit in — if only it can terrify a parent. So it does.
But the good news is, there is actually a lot of research on how unnecessary, and even counter-productive, excessive de-germing and vigilance can be. So, Michael, start by looking up the hygiene hypothesis — the respected scientific notion that kids get hardier the more they are exposed to dirt.
As for not letting kids stumble or tumble, the chairwoman of the Health and Safety ministry in Britain just called on schools and parents to provide more opportunities for movement, play and risk, including the risk of injury. And Canada’s widely respected ParticpACTION non-profit has called for the same thing, even in early childhood.
They are not pro-injury, of course. They simply see the bigger, longer picture, which is that we want kids to be brave, and resilient and active their whole lives. These traits are hard to grow when kids grow up being told that one wrong move (or dirty toy licked) and they may not survive.
Babies still need supervision, of course. But the idea that growing kids can’t handle a boo boo, spat, or spill, is quickly being debunked — and not just by me. Google things like “importance of play,” “beneficial risk,” and anything by Peter Gray or Tim Gill or the recently departed Bev Bos.  And that’s just for starters. I’m hoping the commenters here will also give you a lot of other good ideas on what to watch, read, and try with your wife to help lessen the worry.
As a worrier myself, I empathize with her. The first time my son slipped out of his stroller, I thought he’d have brain damage. My mother-in-law said, “He’ll fall on his head 20 times before he’s one.”
I think he did just that. I think most kids do. His brain survived, seemingly unscathed. Good luck to you and yours — L


I want to eat dirt!

I want to eat dirt!


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

40 Responses to Help Needed: How Convince Spouse to Stop Overprotecting Baby?

  1. John April 4, 2016 at 11:36 am #

    I don’t have any stats on this but it seems as if so many young people in their 20s today are allergic to so many things. I think that may be why carpeting in homes is going out of style. Because of all the dirt and house dust carpeting entraps causing allergic reactions to the young residents. Parents nowadays lather up their kids with antibacterial soap and bathe them twice a day thinking they’re keeping their kids healthy by doing that. Most Americans nowadays probably think that kids who go barefoot outside are being abused.

    It’s amazing that street children in countries such as Egypt, Thailand and the Philippines who run around barefoot and get into all kinds of germs, in some ways, are probably healthier than American children with 0 allergies! That is, assuming they don’t sniff too much glue.

  2. ChicagoDad April 4, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Sometimes you can influence people with facts and figures, and sometimes you can persuade with experience and emotion. If you can’t make your case, trying showing her how much fun your little one can have exploring and playing in dirt.

    I personally recommend a big mud puddle, adorable baby galoshes and some plastic cups. When your wife sees the sheer exuberant joy on your baby’s face as he splashes, gooshes and smooshes the mud, maybe then she’ll be a little more open to your line of thinking.

  3. JimK April 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

    Good luck with this. I am the oldest of seven kids so I knew before mine were born that kids are pretty resilient, bending rather than breaking, and survive all sorts of stuff, so I’m all for letting kids get dirty and fall down, and heck even eating dirt, which my kids did all of regularly.

    Our house rule was when your kid came to my house expect them to get dirty and muddy – we had a small stream and woods behind the house where my kids spent their early years. I can vividly remember one day at the beach watching my daughter eat handfuls of sand to no ill effect, and my Mother remembers me feeding my brother mudpies (while he’s been forever trying to get even, he survived as did my other 6 siblings – not sure what I fed them). My kids got their fair share of ‘boo-boos,’ but it’s actually difficult to remember them ever being sick. Playing in the dirt is good for you.

  4. Linda April 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    Gift her the “Free Range Kids” audiobook.

  5. AmyO April 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    I would say to just keep repeating that you did it when you were kids too, and treat these things as normal occurrences part of every day life. Common sense and reasonableness will be more effective than research, I would think.

    I remember taking my daughter to the park and she was picking up sticks. My husband freaked out and told her not to touch them because they were dirty. My response was, “You never played with a stick when you were a kid?” It gave him pause and he realized that sticks and dirt are actually not dangerous.

    Also make sure your reactions to falls and dirt are reasonable to the situation. If you model for her an easygoing approach to these things, she’ll be more comfortable relaxing too. For instance, when the baby has a fall, it’s much better to go “Whoops! You’re all right!” then to scoop the child up to check for injuries; likewise when the baby gets dirty, act like it’s a marvelous thing instead of a chore. I tell my kid I know how much fun she had by how much dirt she brings home. When I’m smiling and not scolding, my husband won’t get upset either.

  6. JR April 4, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    As we were fond of saying as kids, “God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt!” And it’s true! For 99% of human existence, we were hunter-gatherers living IN nature and WITH nature, instead of outside it and against it. And our species clearly managed to survive – and thrive – into the present day.

    Think of nature exposure as a type of allergy shot. Kids who live on farms tend to have fewer allergies and health problems overall. Regular contact with dirt, plants, animals, and sunlight, has strengthened their immune system to the point where potential pathogens can’t take hold.

    I suppose you can frame it this way to your wife: Would you rather that Junior be exposed to a natural “allergy shot” through having the outdoor childhood that was the norm for 99% of human history, or would it make more sense to set him up for a lifetime of environmental allergies and autoimmune disorders by keeping him sterile and indoors?

    I can provide scientific research that supports all of these claims if you think that would help. Good luck!

  7. Catherine Caldwell-Harris April 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm #

    Share this: doctors no longer recommend daily baths for anyone because bathing with soap impairs surface layer of natural bacteria (our natural biome). this is related to the hygiene hypothesis but goes beyond it. Get exposed to naturally occurring germs by any means possible.

    When he was two, my son tumbled down a flight of wooden stairs. He cried while I held him for 10 minutes, then kind of cried for another 5, then was fine.

    In my household, food dropped or found on the floor is to be eaten, unless it is visibly covered in something disgusting. My children have no allergies, and rarely get sick.

  8. Catherine Caldwell-Harris April 4, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

    @JR — everything JR said! Like the idea of the natural allergy shot.

  9. K April 4, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Depending on the kind of person your wife is, you can try just calling her on it when she says something particularly ridiculous. When my son was learning to sit up, he fell over and hit his head while sitting on the hardwood floor in the dining room. Then a few minutes later, it happened again, at which my husband shot me a dirty look, gathered up the baby, and said, “let’s get back on the rug. No more hardwood floors.” I just said, “Nope. We’re not going to be those parents who don’t let their kids on hardwood floors.” While my husband tried to protest that he just meant for a little while while the baby learned to sit, he could clearly see that his response was over the top. We both knew we didn’t want to be overprotective parents, but he couldn’t see it in himself when he started to trend that way until he was called on it.

  10. Joanne April 4, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    You are right, Michael – she is not alone – 1st time moms are always overprotective – your life changes the second that baby is born and with your 1st, you are learning your way right along with your baby – your baby is the most precious thing in the world – its a living piece of both mom & dad and a very heavy weight on the mind of mom who was also responsible for carrying and delivery

    I am an only child who married and had 7 children (15-almost 2) – my husband, on the other hand, is the middle child of 3 whose Mom ran a Home Daycare – if it weren’t for my husband, I would never have gotten through motherhood with my 1st 3 “Irish Triplets” born within 11 1/2 mos of each other

    The less you expose your children to be it dirt, pets, foods, etc, the more risk you run of them developing allergies and/or vulnerable immune system – yes, some kids will have asthma and thats a different story but you won’t know if you bubble wrap them too tight! (I do have a son with asthma but its triggered by cold weather not dirt, physical activity, etc) – relax, children aren’t sent home from Maternity with bubble wrap because they are intended to experience life – getting anxious when your child gets dirty playing outside or every time they bump their head or fall will cause them to become anxious and insecure – the best thing you can do is assure yourself that there’s no dirt a bath can’t clean and do not react every time your child stumbles or falls, instead remain calm and wait to see how they react – oftentimes, they won’t cry unless your expression or body language cues them to be alarmed – this was a gem passed onto me by a dear friend who ran a daycare for many years and even had some of my children pass through for a day or 2 a week over the years – (as an only child, this was a hard lesson for me to learn but once I relaxed a bit, I saw the benefit not only for my child, but for me as well as I was more relaxed, reassured and calm) – when they get hurt, reassure your child how brave they are – our children’s Godfather is the baby of a family of 7 and a veteran – he always told my kids bumps & bruises are “war wounds” 🙂 – when they were little, it made them feel important that they “survived the battle” LOL

    Have patience with mom – validate her feelings – questioning her decisions too much may translate to lack of confidence which could cause her to feel insecure and unsupported – give her a big hug too – its not easy taking care of an infant, nevermind the worry, stress and anxiety that are part of 1st time motherhood – IDK how your Pedi is, my kids’ Pedi is elderly and has seen so much over the years in practice that he was a very good resource for me as I learned my way – he would always tell me to relax – sometimes with younger fresh out of med school Pedis, they can be a bit ridiculous for fear of liability or malpractice – I find older Pedis are more confident and experienced enough to know and make judgments on what to and not to worry about and can be very reassuring for new parents

    Please assure her that not every bump to the head is a head injury – unfortunately, our 2nd child fell from a 2nd story window at 5 1/2 – she sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury – it takes a tremendous amount of force to inflict brain damage – of course its anxiety causing when your child falls and hits their head but also remember infants and toddlers are learning to crawl/walk and are “head heavy” so they are also learning to find their balance

    Lastly, if you have any large families locally that you may know yourself or know through someone else or even through church or other social interests in which you participate, talk to those moms – even people in your community who were children from larger families (especially elderly, they are awesome!) would be great for your wife to talk to – if she is open to hearing their experience and perspective, it will help her to relax a lot – data and research are no substitute for personal experience (hubs is a PhD and even he believes this to be true – data and research only go so far – also, my Pedi once told me when I 1st heard about “percentages” and asked what percentage my 1st baby was that he wouldn’t tell me because it meant nothing – I was a bit stunned as all the other moms were discussing it but he explained that it would be impossible to get data from a wide enough cross-section of the population worldwide to have percentages be accurate – ever since, I get a smirk whenever I hear new parents discussing percentages LOL) – dont get too hung up on data/research – for every study, there is a study contradicting its results

    By the way, my daughter with TBI has always participated in sports (with a brief break immediately following TBI, of course) – I was uptight about it at 1st but her sibs always did sports and it is recommended by her docs as it is therapeutic for her other disabilities (ADHD, etc) – despite her head injury, she has participated in soccer, basketball, softball, football, sparred in Tae Kwon Do and even participated in Dodgeball in school phys ed as well as many other sports/physical activities – has she taken a ball to the head or fallen? Yes, of course – were her docs at one of the best Children’s Hospitals in the world concerned? No – she’s fine – I don’t even need to bubble wrap her! 🙂

    Everyone’s experience is different – I hope sharing some thoughts and perspective from mine may help – one thing I can say is that based on your letter, you have a super wife and your child has a super mom – make sure you treat her extra special on Mother’s Day – you and your child are very lucky to have her 🙂

    Take Care, Michael 🙂

  11. JR April 4, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    @K, @Michael C.

    Babies and young children are actually some of the most ‘anti-fragile’ creatures on this planet. Here’s a great blog post from Teacher Tom, a kind and thoughtful teacher at Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool, about all the ways young children are especially suited for learning about themselves and their environment through measured physical risk-taking.

  12. Craig April 4, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    My advice would be, and I’m not being sarcastic when I say this, would be to get your wife and yourself to a therapist right away who can help to deprogram you from all the conditioning that you both picked up from your schooling, other people, university education and the wider culture in general (Advertising and TV among them.) You will have to shop around for the right one. If any therapist tries to acknowledge the ‘risks’ in today’s world, run away and keep looking as they will be just as programmed as your wife is.

    Your wife is already psychologically ‘programming’ your baby now by her emotional reactiveness. We all know that babies and toddlers look to us to help them interpret their experience. We can see how when a toddler, bumps his head or falls on her face, the first thing they do is look to their mom to see how they should react. If Mom is emotional healthy and calm she would look at her child and say, ‘keep going, you can do it’ and the child will pick themselves up and go again. But watch as a little fall on the butt gets a shocked and horrified reaction from mom and that child will see that and start to cry, learning and internalizing that that little event is now a serious trauma to be feared. Of course if the child is genuinely hurt, they will cry and need some love, reassurance and encouragement.

    Your wife needs to deal with her programming and issues right away because things will not get better as the child ages. She will eventually move on from ‘dirt’ and ‘germs’ (in fact.. Life) and program the child to fear words, ideas, thoughts and see imagined slights everywhere, turning your baby into yet another pre-programmed perpetual victim who will be a barely functional human. and these days there is no shortage of brainwashed teachers and professors who will help to deepen that programming to help create an easily manipulated completely non-aware, compliant slave.

    So this really is a big picture issue.

  13. Craig April 4, 2016 at 1:39 pm #


    “I personally recommend a big mud puddle, adorable baby galoshes and some plastic cups. When your wife sees the sheer exuberant joy on your baby’s face as he splashes, gooshes and smooshes the mud, maybe then she’ll be a little more open to your line of thinking.”

    I think it’s a good idea. But I’m betting in this case that in a situation like this, the mom will not be able see her baby’s joy but only her own ‘feelings’ and discomfort with the situation and react out of that rather than from curiosity and calmness.

  14. Workshop April 4, 2016 at 1:54 pm #

    My mother in law is crazy-overprotective. My youngest son fell at her house this weekend, and she was up out of her chair on her way to pick him up before I could blink. A quick “stop, he’s fine” worked in that case, but it’s one reason we don’t leave the kids with her overnight. If you can’t handle a three year old falling to his knees, you won’t be able to handle them when it’s 8 o’clock and they start doing their “teenage mutant ninja turtles” routine.

  15. lollipoplover April 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    I just came back from a brisk walking of my doggies and feel fantastic. I’ve been inside working all morning and seeing, smelling, and experiencing trees and flowers blooming is invigorating and keeps the allergies away and pounds off. Digging in the garden and eating fresh food, even with dirt on it beats sanitized and chemically sprayed store bought that’s packaged in plastic bags. I cannot believe this fear of dirt, especially for children.
    I WANT my kids to eat things that grow in dirt and to lick as many trees as they please. It’s the packaged and processed chemicals that are in so many synthetic and processed goods and in chemicals (like hand sanitizer) that scare the CRAP out of me.

  16. SanityAnyone? April 4, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

    This is not a documentary but tells the tale well while being hilarious. She has taken overprotection to a new level. It’s impossible to treat multiple children with the same kid gloves as the first, and if you can realize that now, you’ll see it is both silly and unhealthy to overprotect even one. The video depicts dropping off baby #1 at Grandma’s vs baby #3.

  17. Dienne April 4, 2016 at 3:52 pm #

    Have a second kid. And a third and a fourth if necessary. The saying goes that when your first baby drops the pacifier, you boil it for at least 10 minutes before giving it back. For the second kid, you run it under cold water for a few seconds. For the third kid you wipe it off on your pants. For the fourth kid you take it out of the dog’s mouth and give it back to the baby. You just can’t live with two or more kids the way you do with just one – details get overlooked and that’s a good thing.

  18. Tracey April 4, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    Just have a second baby. She will have to lower her standards. It worked for me. I worried so much about my delicate toddler. Till another baby arrived and overnight she became my capable, tough, helpful big kid.

  19. Renee Anne April 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

    As I write this, I’m sitting outside on the deck, in a chair, under an umbrella. My five year old son is sitting next to me, doodling in a notebook I gave him. My 18-month old is currently running between the bay laurel bushes and the fence, possibly looking for missed dog poop, which is gross and smells really bad…..but it’s not going to hurt him so long as he doesn’t taste it. And I guarantee you, if he tastes it, he’ll never do it again. He’s fallen down our 3 deck stairs exactly once and he’s not done it again. Our 5 year old Brittany (hyperactive 50 lb dog) has knocked him over more than once. When he’s not digging for missed dog poop, he’s playing with whatever else he can find out here, which is usually dead leaves, wood chips, rotting citrus that has fallen off trees, and dirt.

    My five year old did all these things and he’s fine. Can I be overprotective? Sure. Our pool ladder (above-ground pool) is removable and we definitely lock it up away from small children. Have I let him play with the hose? Duh. He needs to learn what happens when you spray the nozzle at your face.

    I have no research to back it up other than what I did myself as a child. Should I have been in a car seat at 3 years old? Probably. Was I? Nope. I was, however, buckled because that was a relatively new thing in cars.

    Perhaps it’s because I’ve done it once already but the little one does a lot more than his big brother did at the same age.

  20. John April 4, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    A few comments on this. My daughter’s mother has a soft head, I have a hard head. I hit my head hard and after a couple seconds I’m fine. My daughter, now 6 has a head that’s rock hard and harder than mine. Maybe too much breast-feeding. So much so that when she hits her head on the floor or sidewalk, I always say, “oh my god, is the floor okay!?” As far as “child-proofing” the house, I did a fair amount of that, but the main thing was telling her what’s not safe. In reality, the only real child-proofing I had to do was protecting the apartment from the child, not protecting the child from the apartment. I also think the whole thing about “not sleeping with your baby since you might roll over them and suffocate them” is mostly misguided, I think parents naturally avoid smothering their babies. And she was and is a natural climber, so occasionally you have to say “that’s not safe” but mostly she knows better than me.

  21. lollipoplover April 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

    “My 18-month old is currently running between the bay laurel bushes and the fence, possibly looking for missed dog poop, which is gross and smells really bad…..but it’s not going to hurt him so long as he doesn’t taste it. And I guarantee you, if he tastes it, he’ll never do it again.”

    When my son was around the same age (and it was Spring time, as he was obsessed with Easter candy) he ate an actual robin’s egg. It probably looked like a peanut M&M as it was blue and about the same size. He opened his mouth, as the shell and embryo oozed out, and said, “Bad candy. Baaaad candy!”

    He was my first and all I could think was that he was going to die of salmonella poisoning. I panicked and called the pediatrician, and had a nurse laugh out loud, put me on hold, and tell me that it was likely not dangerous and he would be fine. I still tease him with peanut M&M’s.

  22. Yocheved April 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm #

    When my daughter was 6 weeks old, she rolled herself off of the sofa. She bonked her head pretty hard on the wooden floor. Babies are not supposed to be able to roll over that early, but she didn’t get the memo!

    When I took her to the pediatrician, he said “Don’t worry, it won’t affect her SAT scores.”

  23. Papilio April 4, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    Aren’t babies supposed to crawl all over the place and put everything they find in their mouths? If that were deadly, we wouldn’t be here.

    Years ago I visited an acquaintance with a 1yo daughter and we sat in her garden when the kid dropped something (food) on the ground, mom picked it up, blew the dirt off, gave it back to daughter. (Yes, that was the first-born. Somehow the second kid survived, too 😛 )
    When I was that age I ate cat food 😀

    @Dienne: I miss the option of putting it in your own mouth before giving it back to baby – I hear that’s actually the most healthy option in terms of good bacteria etc.

  24. Donald April 4, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    Unfortunately, helicopter parenting is a form of OCD. On extreme cases, logic won’t work. You may as well assist a person trying to pass an aye exam by quoting Newton’s Law. Depending on the severity, it could be worse than compulsive hand washing. If she was a hand washer then her hands are receiving the damage of being scrubbed raw. Extreme helicopter parenting is the same as scrubbing the child’s hands raw.

    Since OCD is a form of anxiety, it’s very difficult for someone else to help. You can help ONLY if she wants to become less anxious. Anxiety is all about avoidance. She will resent any offer to help. You can try to be calm and patient but that doesn’t work. Imagine that she’s a frightened cat. Calmly saying, “Here kitty kitty” is not so effective. On the other hand, casing after the cat will ensure it will run from you.

  25. sigh April 4, 2016 at 6:39 pm #

    Can’t believe no one mentioned the documentary “Babies.”

    A must-view!

    It follows five or six infants in very different cultural environments on the journey to 18 months.

    Spolier alert: the kid who ate the most dirt was clearly the one who was most healthy and capable by 18 months. The kids who were constantly strapped in and wiped off fared worse.


  26. Tracey April 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm #

    Visiting a happy family with 2 or 3 or 4 kids could be an eye opening experience for her. She could see that the kids thrive despite (or even because of) all the bumps and bruises. Also, it is excellent for your child’s social and emotional regularly play with a (mostly kind) child that is 1 to 3 years older. Especially if same gender. It encourages your baby to develop skills to “keep up” and makes him more emotionally resilient and way more socially savvy. If you can set up a regular weekly playdate like this (maybe even offer to babysit that older child and build up a little good babysitting karma), it does everyone a lot of good. It lets you get more skilled as a parent, and gives you an idea of what is the range of normal behaviors for a toddler or preschooler. It lets your kid observe you interacting with an older child, where you will use a more extensive vocabulary. And boy, second born kids are much faster at understanding conjugation and prepositions, because not everyone is talking to them. (There will be fights. You may as well learn to deal with them now, it is part of being a skilled parent.) Best of luck!

  27. John S April 5, 2016 at 12:16 am #

    By coincidence, advice columnist Carolyn Hax, in her piece from today, looks at a very similar situation, only the father is the helicopter parent. Take a look at it.

  28. Wendy W April 5, 2016 at 12:16 am #

    “I miss the option of putting it in your own mouth before giving it back to baby – I hear that’s actually the most healthy option in terms of good bacteria etc.”

    My daughter was born in 1986, a saner period of time when we were actually told that bottles and pacifiers did not require sterilization, and “cleaning” a dropped pacifier in my own mouth was my usual method. It was also before pacifier tethers were much of a thing, so paci’s hit the floor about every 15 seconds and who wants to go find a sink that often?

    At that time, we were members of a square dance club that mostly consisted of older couples, who WERE of the sterilize-everything generation. I was contrary enough to be amused by the grandmas’ horrified reactions to the lick-it-off-and-give-it-back method of cleaning, and enjoyed opportunities to shock them.

  29. Elin April 5, 2016 at 6:03 am #

    I would not call my husband a helicopter parent but he is a bit more protective than me. To an extent I think it only strengthens our parenting that dad can baby her a bit and I can tell her to explore. However, at times when I feel that my husband has gone to far I have actually let her do things he is scared off and waited until I know she has mastered the skill to show my husband. When he sees she is fine he is OK with letting go a bit more.

  30. Shari April 5, 2016 at 6:48 am #

    Watch this lovely documentary about how differently babies are raised in different parts of the world. It adds some helpfully entertaining perspective.

  31. Troutwaxer April 5, 2016 at 9:43 am #

    My script with the kids, usually crying on the floor after a fall, was “What do we do when we fall down?”

    “We get right back up again!” Then I’d pick the kid up and set them on their feet. I knew it had taken when my then six-year-old son was playing soccer and he got a very fast, very hard ball right in the face. He didn’t stop for a minute, didn’t cry, didn’t let himself be distracted by the pain – just kept playing the game – I was so proud of him!

    There’s no better moment as a parent than realizing your child is really tough! (He won his first fight too. The other kid looked like he’d fallen into a meat grinder – only half-proud of that one, but at least he can take care of himself!)

  32. Coccinelle April 5, 2016 at 10:45 am #

    What I would do is try to find as many studies as possible that proves that when a baby/kid is deprived from building a healthy immune system, it will actually harm him in the long run.

    It’s really easy to find:

  33. A reader April 5, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Is this guy my BIL?? I swear, the mom he describes is my SIL! I’m starting to think she’s bordering on OCD. I have 3 kids, so even if I WANTED to do things this way, I couldn’t. When they came to stay for a holiday, they brought their own pack and play (even though they know we have a perfectly good crib) because she doesn’t trust that I clean to her standards (which I know I don’t). She wouldn’t let the kid crawl around on the playmat in our playroom or play with our toys (and with 3 kids, you bet we have lots of awesome toys). I don’t ever wash my kids’ toys unless they land in the toilet, and also one time when impetigo was going around, which means we are filthy in her book. When we went to their house, she made my BIL throw all the toys in the bath with a bleach solution as we were leaving, because my kids are apparently walking incubi of plague. Never mind that my nephew goes to day care, which is the ultimate breeding ground of all plagues known to man, and if her kid gets sick, it’s probably from there. When I spent 3 weeks in the hospital with scary pregnancy complications towards the end of my third pregnancy, my BIL skyped me with my nephew because he thought it would cheer me up, and SIL had a freak attack because her precious boy was exposed to screens before the age of 2. BTW, said pregnancy complications, plus preemie in the NICU, those are REAL things to worry about as a parent, which makes her craziness all the more galling to me.

  34. shdd April 5, 2016 at 11:43 am #

    I used to have this argument with my sister and brother in law. When my daughter was 2 and their son was an infant they thought the way I would let her play was horrible. She would usually run a couple of inches away from me, play, and then run back to me. I think I once forget to get her own fork at the mall and we “shared” some rice and peas. Of course I didn’t cut anything small enough. Even 12 years later she loves Chinese food.

    Her opinion of my parenting changed when my daughter at age 4 would come running to me when I called and her 2 year old son used to run in the street. I grabbed him several times myself when I saw a car because I knew he would not listen to his parents.

  35. Another Katie April 5, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    I was overprotective with our first, although not to the extent described. With the second kid we’re much more relaxed and laid-back about things. We still protect them from legitimate dangers (swimming pools, furniture tip-over, car accidents) but a little dirt won’t hurt ’em.

    Our older daughter has a bleeding disorder. Other than following the hematologist’s rules about not climbing above a certain height without some kind of protection from falls, and not playing a handful of sports, we don’t restrict her activity because of it.

  36. that mum April 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

    I grew up on what could best be described as a small hobby farm… back-to-lander mum. We drank milk right out of the goat, ate our eggs after giving them a wipe—raw cookie dough too. Yum. Our house was never clean (4 kids and a variety of animals in the house at any given time). When the baby chicks hatched we’d let them run all over the kitchen table…

    So yeah did not grow up germaphobic at all. My kids bath 1-2 times a week, depending of grunge level. Everyone is super healthy. I have not had a sick day off work in over 20 years.

  37. that mum April 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm #

    ok realised how that might sound– I meant we did not sterilize our milk, we did use a bucket to milk our goat 🙂

  38. Keelia April 6, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

    I would recommend checking out Janet Landsbury’s blog. She has lots of great info about how competent infants are.

  39. Katie April 7, 2016 at 11:54 am #

    I feel like I know this person too (except the name is wrong). No one’s home is ever clean or chidl proofed enough for mom even people with similar aged or smaller children. Even her own family’s house isn’t clean or safe enough so they stay at a hotel when they visit. Not surprisingly mom also drives a stupid gas guzzler SUV, but doesn’t worry about the impacts of global warming or all the flaws with SUVs. Not surprisingly her kids are fast becoming brats with lots of issues which only makes her helicopter more.

  40. Katie April 7, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    @a reader
    That is very odd about your SIL. It amazes me she is so worried about germs, but not bleach (I’ve actually had to go to the urgent care over a reaction from bleach). It’s ironic she is so worried about screens, because it sounds like she spends a lot of time watching those commercials for household cleaners. And that is really dumb to she was upset about your nephew trying to cheer you up while in the hospital. I think sometimes kids you are kept away from screens become kind of obsessed with them too whenever they get the chance. I know someone else like that and we went to a museum with them and all the kids wanted to do was to look at screens there. Forget all the far more interesting things in the museum.