Eating dirt is good for kids?


As the mother of an inquisitive 4-year-old who seems to put everything in his mouth, my interest was immediately piqued when I saw a recent article. It said eating dirt is good for kids. 

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers said organisms like bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system, according to the article. 

One researcher said that children raised in an ultra-clean environment are not being exposed to organisms that help them develop appropriate immune regulatory circuits.  

Researchers stressed that intestinal worms, which have been all but eliminated in developed countries, are “likely to be the biggest player” in regulating the immune system to respond appropriately. Most worms are harmless, especially in well-nourished people, the researchers said. My first response was “ewwww!!” Then I felt somewhat relieved about all the times my son ate dirt before I could get to him.

By Fran Jeffries

What do you think? Are you buying this ‘hygiene hypothesis’? Would you be okay with letting your child eat dirt? Are we being overprotective in keeping them so clean all the time?

11 comments Add your comment

Herb T. Kornfeld

January 30th, 2009
6:41 pm

This is truly a dumb question. Of course eating dirt is both, good for kids and healthy too. Dirt provides many nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals that otherwise they would never get. Quality dirt, mixed with some clay can make a fine meal for any child.


January 30th, 2009
6:56 pm

Yes we ate dirt as children and I think our immune systems are much better than the children of today. They frequently get sick and get antibotics from the doctor.As children we rarely went to the doctor.
I thinks we built up an immunity to germs that kids today get sick from. My mother used to say the “You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die” and I think we were much healthier for it. Children who are so sheltered usually get sick all the time because they never have a chance to build up immunites.


January 30th, 2009
8:55 pm

As a child, 54 years ago, I ate dirt. I craved it! My grandmother told me my body was craving minerals it lacked. My parents went to the river bank and hauled back a foot-tub of ‘clean’ dirt. Yes, it was clean back then…before we polluted it.
When I was pregnant with my first child, that craving returned. Believe it or not, my OB/GYN told me the same thing! Of course, he adjusted vitamins and that helped. Every once in a while, when it just starts to rain and the dirt is barely damp, the craving returns! Never made me sick!

dan w

January 30th, 2009
9:14 pm

Yes I do beleave we have become too clean for our own bodies good, but unfortunatly our dirt (earth) isn’t much good for worm’s anymore:/

katie alexander

January 30th, 2009
9:33 pm

what how is eating dirt good for kids???????


February 1st, 2009
3:42 am

Eating dirt when I was a kid never hurt me. I dont think. Some might say different.

D Adams

February 1st, 2009
9:26 am

I first heard this theory in the early 90’s when anti-bacterial products were the new rage. Soon after I read about how dangerous anti-bacterial products were, ie; creating “super” germs and even containing carcinogens. This information wasn’t publicized because it wasn’t good for “business” and didn’t sell products. Over the years I’ve had to seek out the info to share with my friends and have wondered how long it would take to actually receive widespread attention. I didn’t suspect it would take almost 20 years and untold illnesses and deaths as well as an entire generation of immune suppressed children facing lifelong chronic and debilitating diseases.

Again, this information was virtually hidden from the public for only one reason, it wasn’t good for “business”.


February 1st, 2009
9:36 am

I agree. Eat more dirt!


February 1st, 2009
7:25 pm

i think this is 100% true. i’ve taken my son everywhere with me pretty much since birth. he’s 6 years old now and has had one fever in his whole life .. he’s hardly ever sick. on the other hand, my neighbor is a germaphobe and is always keeping her kids sheltered. they’re sick every other week .. the same with my sister-in-law and nieces. you need to expose your kids to germs for them to build immunities to them.


February 6th, 2009
11:17 am

as my dad always told me (in chinese) “big germs eat little germs”

Kurtis G Dirtblower

February 19th, 2009
4:32 pm

Yeah….feed em dirt…it cheaper than veggies….little rug rats gonna get dirty anyway…might as well get something out of it.