One question that many parents have is whether or not it is safe for children to play in mud? The answer is somewhat complex because it depends on many factors. However, on the whole, the answer is almost certainly yes! And a big YES at that!
However, there are some things that us parents need to consider when letting our children play in mud. One of the first things that we will need to do is check on the suitability of the area that we are proposing for a mud patch. He’s some reasons why mud is just so great!
All too often, we live our lives today in a hygienic way. Now, don’t get my wrong, hygiene is something that we should all embrace in todays world. Although, you can also have too much hygiene and sometimes we get rid of the good bacteria as well as the bad. This good bacteria that we pick up from around the garden is actually good for us. It helps our bodies become stronger and more resilient to the bad bacteria.
Another common thing in our homes today that is not playing in the way that nature intended is hand sanitisers. In certain circumstances, such as hospitals and rest rooms, these are a great idea. However, when it comes to cleaning our hands from being out in the garden, a simple amount of home soap and water will do the trick. Antibacterial hand wash has its place, but we do need to be careful in leading a life where no bacteria lives. This can have long term effects on young people and adults. Our bodies are extremely complex and have been fighting bacteria for thousands of years, believe it or not, they are still able to do it now.
Playing mud and being exposed to all types of bacteria, is actually good for us. This exposure in young people can actually be of benefit, especially when it comes to allergies. As a young person, bacteria will be training the immune system and making it stronger for later life. Antibiotics, as much of having their purpose, do have damaging effects when used if they are not needed. This is why doctors today are less likely to prescribe them compared to how they may have done in the past. By ensuring that children are exposed to bacteria, especially those that are living in the garden, it can help to ensure that their immune system is building up immunity to make them stronger.
Granted, there is some mud out in the garden that is not ‘clean’. You will need to be careful of mud where animals maybe making it dirty. These could be house pets or even animals that like to visit your garden from neighbouring houses. If you suspect that neighbouring animals are visiting and making your soil dirty, by which we mean poo, then it is best to avoid your children playing in that area all together. For one, the animal is likely to keep coming back and secondly you will struggle to get rid of it all together, especially in the short term.
Instead, you can quite easily create your own patch, using top soil from the local garden centre. The benefit of this is that it will be free of weeds and of the best quality that you will be able to get – almost certainly better than most of us can get out of our own gardens. You can then simply cover the patch over to keep it clean or if you are still worried, consider investing in a small sandpit. Great for small spaces and keeping it contained as you will be able to switch between the two, sand and mud.
Playing in mud can also have great benefits to our mental health. Living in dirt naturally is a bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae. This bacteria, stimulates the body to release serotonin which is a natural agent in the brain for keeping us clam, reducing stress and also helps us relax. For children this is especially important and in our own personal life, I can actually see this play out in real time. I am a firm believer that after our toddler has been playing out in the garden, especially in the mud kitchen, he whole persona is a lot more relaxed that what it would have been playing indoors and not exposed to anything garden like.
Not only is this important for children, whether at home or at school or the nursery, it is also important for adults. By playing in the mud with our children, we will benefit from the same relaxing environment. This is part the reason why gardening is a great healer for someone suffering from depression. If you don’t spend enough time out in the garden, give it a go. You will be amazed by the results.
If your children are playing around the garden and enjoying a muddy area that you happen to have, you are going to want to keep it weed free. As your children are going to be handling the mud, you are not going to want to use chemical weedkillers. The safest way to remove weeds, is to do it by hand. Whilst I appreciate that this is not so fun, you really don’t want those chemicals being an ingredients in any mud pie. Digging the area over frequently will help keep the weeds at bay.
So, in short, YES, mud is certainly safe for children to play in. There are some precautions that you will need to take such as ensuring the environment is as clean as it can be. However, the benefits that your children will get from mud play is just amazing. Not to mention that it is a low cost form of entertainment that can be played for many months.
You can check out our list of mud play benefits here.