When Madelynn was born, I kept her in this antibacterial bubble, where 99.9 percent of germs just could not enter. Before anyone could touch her, their arms and hands had to be properly cleaned and disinfected, toys that touched the floor needed to be taken home and sterilized before further play, and highchairs, shopping carts, and changing tables were just plain off-limits. That all changed rather quickly, by three months I was wiping down highchairs with sani-wipes, but she was finally allowed to touch them. At 8 months, I've lost almost all of my germaphobe ways, tossing out the anti-bac and replacing it with a travel container of baby wipes. I decided that germs were the one thing that I wasn't going to protect this baby from. There are still things that will always be off limits, she will never be permitted to chew on a menu at a restaurant (ew.ew.gag.ew.), or lick a floor that isn't ours. The fate of dropped toys, floors to crawl on, and shopping carts will be decided on a case-by-case basis, but ultimately I plan to step back and let her slobber all over whatever she wants.
I played in the dirt a lot as a kid. I rode in shopping carts, I sat in highchairs, I licked things that were less than sanitary. I played under tables, splashed in dingy creek water, and swooshed things around in the toilet. I ate beetles and dog biscuits for goodness sake. My Mum was one of those people that believed germs were your friend, if you let them in, you'll be a healthier person. Colds and the flu were treated with chicken soup and Gatorade, never Advil or cough syrup. To this day I won't take any "modern medicine" (except for that amazing epidural), no antibiotics or over the counter anything (not even Tylenol), I take a natural approach to getting well and staying that way. I imagine my immune system is pretty rockin', as I very rarely get sick. This is what I want for Madelynn. I want her to be strong enough to fight off the common cold or worse, and I don't think you get that by having a too clean kid. It still freaks me out when she shoves a just-shed chunk of cat hair in her mouth, or licks the bathroom floor just to taste it (because that stuff is just plain gross), but now that she's a little older, I'm no longer dreading her first sick sneeze.
I think Mads will be happier and healthier living outside of her little bubble, and living in the real world where the occasional scratchy throat happens, and a runny nose isn't the worst thing on earth.
I have officially jumped off the antibacterial bandwagon. Pass me that Crappy Mommy badge, I'll totally wear that shit with pride.