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Mud and germs - what age to start playing at the park?

(7 Posts)
strawberrybubblegum Tue 01-Apr-14 15:04:57

My DD is 14 months old, and we've recently started taking her to the park. She loves being outside, and in the course of picking up and examining sticks, clumps of mud etc gets pretty dirty. She can walk, but does end up kneeling and sitting on the ground too. I do try to stop her eating dirt, or putting her hands in her mouth, but I'm sure some does get past me. She's also been enjoying the sand pit at the park, and on Sunday there was some down her chin so although I didn't see it, I'm pretty sure she ate some.

I always thought a bit of mud was natural for children, and helped their immune system. But a couple of things have made me reconsider:
- DD has been ill (throwing up) two separate times, and both times she was in the park sandpit the previous day. Now it might just be a coincidence: the first time she was really very ill, we ended up in hospital, and the nurse said that the vomiting was too bad to be from eating sand, and it was probably a stomach bug; the second time DD had had a bit of a temperature for a couple of days already so I think she was incubating something. But still...
- Today at the park, an older woman told me that I should be careful to clean DD's hands, because people let their dogs loose around there. The way she said it, she seemed to think I really shouldn't be letting DD play there - or maybe I'm being paranoid! It's a nice park, and I haven't seen any evidence of non-clearing-up, but it's true that there are dog walkers around.
- Other friends have told me that they worry about mud, presumably because of the risk of animals having fouled it.

So, what do you think? I know 14 months is still really very little - is she too young to play at the park? If so, when can we? I don't want to restrict DD from something fun, but I obviously don't want her to get ill!

As an aside, we do have a garden which doesn't have dogs in it, but obviously has foxes and other wild-life. It's also recently been weed-and-fed so I'm avoiding it for now! Would that be a better option in a couple of weeks?

mistlethrush Tue 01-Apr-14 15:07:59

I would think it's more likely to be cats using the sand in the park. DS has a covered sandpit in the garden at home so I knew nothing had been in it - and this was a very well-used item in the garden when he was little.

NaturalBaby Tue 01-Apr-14 15:11:39

Are there other parks you can use if there's a dog issue?
I didn't use the park very much at all because I had 3 under 3 and they would run off in different directions (usually towards the river) and it would take 1/2hr to persuade them to go home.
I really don't enjoy taking them to the park, particularly at that age, so avoided it in favour of going for a walk and soft play. At least I got to sit down and zone out a bit there!

strawberrybubblegum Tue 01-Apr-14 15:36:40

I guess we could get a sandpit - that's a good suggestion, mistlethrush. Although I think what she likes best at the park one is seeing all the older children!

NaturalBaby - there is another park fairly close, but I think it's also used by dog-walkers. I like soft play too, but feel so much better when I've spent some time outside, ideally somewhere with trees and grass. I only have DD, so can quite happily wander along beside her while she checks out whatever she's interested in. And now that she's tasted freedom, she doesn't much like being pushed along in the buggy: she starts straining at the straps as soon as we get into the park!

mummyxtwo Wed 02-Apr-14 12:31:47

Doesn't the play area have a fence around it? All the parks near us have fenced off playgrounds which dogs can't enter. I tend to watch dd2 closely in the main park and try to prevent her putting things in her mouth but occasionally she'll attempt to eat a daisy before I can stop her. You can only do your best I think and it would be a shame to avoid parks altogether for fear of them picking up germs. There is so much to explore and see in a park! Tbh I've never worried about sandpits with mine, just let them play and tried to minimise eating. If you avoid sandpits and parks, you can guarantee your lo will pick up a dirty bit of litter from the supermarket floor and start chewing.

meringue33 Wed 02-Apr-14 18:42:35

Totally I think outdoor play is so important. My 15 mo loves the park. Maybe keep her out of the sandpit in particular if you think cats are a danger but otherwise I'd just go for it. The tummy bug was probably just bad luck.

My son's cousins aren't allowed to play or walk on the grass in the park, only on the paths, because of dog dirt. Such a shame!

HolidayCriminal Wed 02-Apr-14 19:03:15

I'd just go for it. Tots get some tummy bugs no matter what you do.

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