When I happened across this article on The Boston Globe's website today, I half chuckled- half cringed.
I chuckled because my first thought was, "Snort. Only five seconds!? Seriously, people, try twenty minutes." Then I cringed because my second thought was, "Dear God, I'm a horrible mother."
The "five-second rule" is the belief that it's safe to eat anything that's fallen on the floor as long as it's picked up within five seconds. The article's main point is that most parents practice this rule in spite of the fact that even minimal contact between food and the floor can pass harmful bacteria.
In our house, eating food off the floor is a very common occurrence. (For the baby, not for Eric and I...) It's not that she just happens to find this food on the floor either. It's almost as if she purposely throws it there with the intent of saving it for later.
It's mostly a Cheerios problem. Every morning, Madeline goes through the same process of dumping her bowl of dry cereal on the living room rug. Then she happily picks up an O here and there throughout her morning routine as if she's found a yummy surprise amongst her toys. This happens so frequently, and it makes her so happy, that we've pretty much given up preventing her from eating cereal off the floor.
Pretty gross. Still, we keep the rug relatively clean. We don't have any pets, and it's not a high traffic shoe area. Plus, the cereal is dry so it's not like it gets big globs of dust or burlap-sac hair stuck to it. If she dumped sliced peaches onto the rug, I probably wouldn't let her eat them. I'd at least inspect them first. I also draw the line at eating food off the kitchen floor after dinner as she often tries to do. That's just plain wrong. The kitchen floor is not as clean, and pasta is sticky. See, I'm not a totally delinquent parent.
Here's the worry: I often hear stories about how first time parents are really careful about cleaning anything their baby drops on the floor, but by the time they get to their second or third child, they let the kid eat dirt.
Since I don't really care that much now with my first, I figure we'll probably just feed our second child out of a dog bowl. If we ever have a third child, we'll probably just throw scraps of raw meat on the kitchen floor for the poor waif to lick up.
Sigh. Really though, I should probably try harder to prevent floor eating. I don't want Madeline to be that weird kid who digs a half-eaten cupcake out of the trash bin during recess, do I?