Do you suck clean your baby's paci? Well, maybe you should.
Just listened to this NPR piece, describing new research that suggests that parents' saliva on their baby's pacis may protect kids from developing asthma, eczema and allergies. I read a fascinating book on the subject of the hygiene hypothesis, called Why Dirt is Good, a few years ago when I interviewed the author, Mary Ruebush, for an article I was writing in Parents. In the book, Ruebush presents many studies which suggest similar findings. After I interviewed her, I told my mother about the theory that exposure to germs actually strengthens a young child's immune system and I believe her quote was, "What are you, a moron? Don't make me throw up." Licking a paci would be nothing short of a nightmare for her, raging germophobe that she is.
For my part -- and I don't mind a bit of dirt and germs now and again -- the new study will not change the way I handle Terza's pacis. Because you know what those researchers didn't study? The incident of illnesses in the parents that sucked on those nasty-ass pacis. It may sound selfish, but I go down, this whole ship goes down, so what about protecting my immune system from all the germs the baby has? Study that, then get back to me.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.