LA Weekly posted an article about a study reported by the Daily Mail about the cleanliness of high chairs in American restaurants. I'll give you a hint, you're either A) never going to leave home without an arsenal of Clorox products or B) never going to eat out ever again. Of course, in true gross-out fashion, the study compared the amount of bacteria found per inch on a restaurant high chair (147) vs. a public toilet (8).
I would like to say right now that my butt takes offense to the stereotype that it is a consistently disgusting piece of flesh. I wash my underwear, I wash my pants, I wash my butt daily. Upon exiting the shower and after drying my butt with a clean towel, I place it into my clean underwear which is then placed inside my clean pants. There it stays all day. My bare cheeks don't rub up on anything the general public touches -- aside from toilets, but let's just assume we're all clean people with our clean butts tucked away in our clean pants who wash our hands regularly (ignorance! naiveté! WIN!) so, of course, it's not going to spread as much nasty as the hands of a sticky, free-range toddler placed in a high chair.
(I realize some of you out there (my husband) are reeling at the thought of toilets being cleaner than high chairs, in your mind there can be no dirtier place on the planet than a toilet even if it does get scrubbed weekly/daily/hourly. Truth be told, the main reason toilets get such a bad rap in the first place? Men. Second? Children. Believe me, my toilet was never so nasty until I moved in with a boy and gave birth to a child who, three years later, started using the toilet.)
So we can all panic about how dirty high chairs are and come out in full force with Rambo belts of Clorox wipes and various bleach powered sprays, but honestly? I'm going to submit that a restaurant high chair is the least of your worries if you have a baby crawling around in your life. And to prove my point, I submit to you five equally if not far grosser things your baby could be sucking on.
5. Shoes. How many times has your kid done something gross in public and you just kept on walking? Someone stepped in that gross stuff, and I can promise that you have stepped in other peoples unmentionable gross stuff as well. This category goes so far beyond bodily fluids that it's a wonder anyone ever let shoes inside their house ever. Leave a colorful toddler-sized flip flop within the grasp of a crawling infant? The rubber and foam are manna to their tiny teething gums. Mmm, not to mention how absorbent foam is ... (Lesson? Take your shoes off at the door. Seriously.)
4. Doors, windows and pretty much any other solid surface in public. Aww, it's so cute when a baby that is learning to stand on his or her own two feet smashes their face into some solid glass surface and goes to town like a starving picasimus trolling for algae. It's funny to watch from the other side right? But take a look at all those smears. Smears from other sticky-faced children, smears from aforementioned flip flops kicking the door open and personal experience? Smears from birds flying face first into the glass. (Okay, so it only happened once but it stuck with me. Birds leak upon impact, a lot.)
3. Money. Specifically coins. I remember in my youth someone told me if you sucked on a copper penny your parents wouldn't be able to smell alcohol on your breath. Here's the truth, if you suck on a copper penny after a heavy night of drinking, your parents (and the cops) will still be able to smell the alcohol on your breath and they will ground you, but you won't really care because you'll come down with some strange bacterial infection from sucking on a dirty penny leaving you so sick that you'll spend the remainder of your sentence hurling from the side of your bed. True story. Don't let your kids suck on coins. Ever.
2. Handrails. I have never seen handrails being cleaned by anyone anywhere. But I have seen people stand on, spit on, barf on, lick, hump and deposit old gum on handrails. And look! Your baby, he's sucking on the handrails! And just in case you think, "My baby's mouth can't reach that handrail!" Your baby's hand can reach the hand rail and, oh look, now your baby's hand is in his or her mouth. Have you ever spent the day at an amusement park? Did you touch the handrails? Then you know well the feeling of handrail hands. They have a smell, a pungent odor of metal, strangers and various sticky substances. Avoid the handrails. Please.
1. Look, I'm not going to name names but I am going to say this didn't happen to my kid. Yet. I was front and center for it happening to another kid. Goose poop. Did you know geese poop EVERY SIX MINUTES? And to a small child, their poop looks just like tootsie rolls? And without naming names, by the eagerness of said child eating goose poop, one would be led to believe that goose poop may actually taste like tootsie rolls. Alas, the goose poop eating child ended up with a sickness that burned through his parents' will to live. Not to mention dozens of diapers and several loads of laundry. To a kid feces are fun! One minute, you're just sitting there, the next minute something pops out your rear end! Why not taste it? Someone somewhere in history thought it would be a good idea to try whatever squirted out of a cow's udder, and some other genius saw a chicken crap out an egg and thought it would be a capital idea to eat it. Your teething genius isn't going to think twice about those logs in the kitty litter or piles in the backyard. They're going to be just as curious as you were the first time you witnessed a member of the opposite sex naked. Vigilance my friends, it's the only way to stop fecal sampling.
There's going to be thousands of studies about a thousand gross things (toothbrushes! hotel remotes!) and we can panic about all of them, or we can keep on keeping on with the cleanliness of ourselves (wash your damn hands, people) and our surroundings (including where our babies put their mouths) and be thankful when it's not our kid sampling the stool.
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