“Ocky, that’s gross, don’t eat that!”
“Get that out of your mouth!”
Adults tend to be very concerned about what goes in the mouths of children, even though we are told again and again that the first way children learn about their world is through putting things in their mouths.
I am by no means suggesting that we allow simply anything to find its way into a child’s mouth but like anything else, there needs to be balance and common sense.
We baby proof our homes for dangerous items. That doesn’t mean we put our children in plastic bubbles. We place fragile items out of reach and cover pointy corners on furniture. We don’t remove the furniture or tell the child “no” when they head for the coffee table.
Please have the same safe but realistic ideas about dirt.
Your child is going to eat some dirt. Get them some water if they cry or complain, clean them up and let them go. It will likely look worse than it is. Young children, between the ages of 1 and 3, tend to ingest about a teaspoon of dirt a few different times as they explore the world. They will figure out that it isn’t something they enjoy eating without adult intervention. If the behavior continues and/or increases you may want to talk to your health care professional.
How to “baby proof” dirt-
- Have your soil tested – You are looking for high levels of lead or arsenic. It isn’t free but it is wise. Lead poisoning can lead to neurological harm that can affect learning. Lead in soil effects pets as well as people.
- Clean up any and all animal waste-It decomposes into the soil and may contain roundworms.
- Be choosy about the kind of fertilizer you use in your gardening/lawn care – Well composted manure or organic will be the safest choices. Avoid manure that has not been composted.
Relax, enjoy watching your child explore. Let them eat dirt.