At my youngest child’s 9-month checkup, the nurse asked me some screening questions to determine whether we ought to test his blood for lead levels. She asked about the age of the house and its state of repair. And then she said something like “I probably don’t have to ask this one, but it is on the sheet: does your child ever crawl on or play in the dirt around your home? Probably not, huh?” She asked apologetically, as if to reassure me that she didn’t think I was the kind of person who would actually let my children play in the dirt.
So I had to tell her that actually, yes, my baby spent a fair amount of time playing in the dirt. Her eyes widened a bit and she put that down on the form.
So now I was feeling two ways. First, I felt smug that my outdoor nature baby was playing in the dirt, even if most kids weren’t. And second, I started to worry about lead. We live in an old house in poor repair. And baby does put yard dirt in his mouth on a pretty regular basis. I think I’ll get his blood checked. I had his sister’s blood checked when she was one and she was fine, but every baby is different, and Nico moves around more than she did.
Dirt is good for you, except when it isn’t. Sometimes there’s lead in it. And the soil is full of bacteria that can give you nasty infections if the wrong one happens to get into an open wound. I thought about that when Nico scraped his toe on a sharp rock and was dragging an open wound around in the mud.
Parents worry so much. I think that the dangers of not spending time in the dirt are much greater than the dangers of doing so. But I did get some antibotic cream and a Hello Kitty band-aid on that toe in short order.