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Germ Warfare: How Far Should You Go? continued...

In a way, it depends on your comfort level. If going the extra mile in your disinfecting makes you feel more confident, go ahead. You could conceivably prevent your kid from getting sick. But you certainly don’t need to feel like a negligent parent if you’re not cleaning your keyboard with bleach-soaked cotton swabs each night.

“Don’t let your focus on germs impair your ability to enjoy yourself,” Jana says. “You don’t want to be one of those people who’s terrified of every little germ.”

It’s also worth remembering that there may be some drawbacks to keeping a home that’s too clean. Some studies have linked the development of allergies and asthma with kids who were raised in homes that were too antiseptic. Without some exposure to antigens as babies, the body may become hypersensitive to them later -- resulting in allergies and asthma.

Help! My Baby Has Eaten Something Disgusting!

Babies will put anything in their mouths -- dirt, dusty Cheerios from under the couch, slimy dog toys, and fossilized cheese crumbs from the car seat. “I had to pull a fly out of my younger child’s mouth once,” Altmann says. “That was pretty gross.”

So when your baby has put some ancient food into her mouth, how worried should you be? Happily, you probably don’t need to freak out.

“If a child eats some spoiled food, the worst they’ll probably get is a gastrointestinal illness,” Frenck says.

Of course, it can get much more horrible than old food. With luck, you will never have the traumatizing experience of finding your baby sitting in the kitty litter eating something unspeakable. But some parents do.

Even then, things will probably be fine.

“I’ve had many calls from parents who are worried because their babies have eaten a pet’s poop,” Altmann says. “However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them get sick from it.”

That’s not to say that they couldn’t get sick. Pets can pass on diseases that could sicken a child. But as long as your cat or dog is getting his shots, the odds are pretty low. Some pets are riskier, like snakes and turtles, which can carry bacteria like salmonella. If you have an exotic pet, ask your child’s pediatrician for advice.

Naturally, if you’re ever concerned about something your kid has eaten or had in her mouth, call the doctor. Just remember that when it comes to babies putting stuff in their mouths, the biggest risks come not from the gross things, but from choking hazards and poisons, like medicines and cleaning agents.

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