Eating Food And Worse Off The Floor!
Babies' dining etiquette isn't exactly refined, which is why you will probably find yourself saying phrases you never thought you'd say before you became a parent: 'don't lick the floor', 'don't eat that sweet off the pavement', 'stop eating mud!'. Unfortunately, babies have no idea that eating food, and anything else they can get their hands on, off the floor is bad for them. As they're too young to understand why you don't want them doing it, trying to stop anything unsavory going into your baby's mouth can be a full time job!
How Bad Is It For Babies To Eat Food From The Floor?
We've all heard of the 3 second rule, but does it really work? Well there's no scientific basis for this rule, as food collects germs as soon as it lands on the floor, but eating food off the floor inside a house/nursery etc, won't do your baby any harm (providing the house is kept reasonably clean). Your baby will already be exposed to germs inside your house, as toys on the floor will get germs on them, so eating food off the floor at home won't harm your baby. Hard floors such as laminating and tile transfer more germs that carpeted floors, so if you are worried about germs in your house, you could feed your baby on carpet if you prefer.
Eating food off the floor from other places, such as at nursery or a friend's house, will actually strengthen your baby's immune system by exposing it to certain germs, much to the relief of guilt ridden mums who don't have time to clean their house as often as they'd like, or forget to wash their little ones' hands before meal times! In fact, studies have shown that houses that are too clean can leave children with inexperienced immune systems, which increases the risk of developing asthma and allergies. This doesn't mean however that you should encourage your baby to eat off the floor; he'll find enough germs by himself to give his immune system some practice! To ensure your baby doesn't eat anything that might make him ill, all you need to do is clean your carpets and floor regularly, and if you're worried about germs being brought in from outside, remove outdoor shoes in the hallway.
Dangers to Watch Out For.
There are some things your baby might pop into his mouth that could be dangerous however. Food that has become wet could be harmful as bacteria multiply in food as soon as it gets wet. Any food that your baby has chewed or sucked on and then discarded will have germs growing in it so make sure you don't let your baby eat that biscuit he began eating a day ago, or half eaten bowl of puree he found under the sofa. You can't stop your baby eating things he finds on the floor, unless you have eyes in the back of your head, but you can minimise it by making sure you pick up and discard any half eaten food or soggy food that has dropped from your baby's highchair.
If your baby has been sick on the floor, from an illness such as flu or stomach bug, you need to disinfect the carpet/floor as germs can live for a while on the floor.
Eating food, or anything else, off the floor when your baby is outside could be harmful to your baby as germs from outdoors are different to household ones. Keep a close eye on your inquisitive baby at all times and intercept any old food/mud/leaves/discarded rubbish/suspicious looking dirt immediately. Be especially careful in parks and any areas where dogs may have defecated as germs in dog poo are particularly harmful. Have a spare dummy (or 3) for if a dummy falls onto the ground. If you see your baby munching on a fist full of mud, or sand, try not to overreact. Take the offending substance out of their mouth, and as long as it isn't dog poo, try not to worry too much about it.
Non-food items can also pose a hazard, because of the risk of choking. Before you put your baby down on the floor to play, make sure you've checked the area for anything that could pose a choking hazard. Check for buttons, small toys, bottle lids, coins, as well as any hard pieces of food such as nuts and sweets; anything that your baby will try to eat given half a chance!
Putting anything and everything into their mouths is a habit that continues into toddlerhood and childhood, when a half eaten sweet found on the pavement looks appealing, but try not to worry too much about your baby's less than sanitary eating habits. Keep an eye on what your baby's attempting to eat when you are outside and invest in a good vacuum cleaner for inside your home and it's very unlikely your baby will eat anything that will harm him.