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Dirt. It’s what’s for dinner.

2010 July 7
by distracted daddy

Baby eating dirt from the garden

It was a Friday evening. My wife and I were in the backyard with our daughter. We were relaxing. Maybe enjoying a cocktail. Our daughter was pleasantly playing on the deck. My wife and I discussed landscaping plans – where to place various shrubs, grasses, annuals, biannuals, and other plants that our pug will fertilize. The backyard was in dire need of help. It had lain fallow last year when we were expecting. Weeding doesn’t seem to be an activity that women enjoy during their third trimester.

During this discussion our daughter stood near the vegetable garden. My wife and I had this exchange regarding our parental responsibility:

“Do you have your eye on baby?”

“Yes. Do you have your eye on the baby?”


So that was two distracted parents each with an eye on the baby. That should add up to one attentive parent with both eyes on the baby. Except it didn’t.

Neither of us knew how it happened. One moment we both had an eye on the baby. That was the official story. The next moment she turned around and looked at us. Black bile was oozing from her mouth. It was mud. Dirt. She was eating dirt.


You know how you tell a baby not to eat things by saying “No, dirty.” Which essentially means, “No, it’s covered in dirt.” Well, dirt is dirt through and through. It doesn’t get dirtier.

And this was garden dirt. Dirt that we’d encouraged to be dirtier by mixing in various top soils, purchased animal manures, and something called sphagnum. This was in hopes that it would encourage the growth of nutritious tasty vegetables. Not that our daughter would skip the entire photosynthesis process and get her nutrients directly from that soil.

We panicked. Scooped her up and rushed into the house. We immediately began washing her mouth out with a wet cloth. Taking extra care to get all of the dirt from her mouth and her hands. Her grubby little hands, those tiny dirt shovels, were covered in the dirt too. We couldn’t believe that she ate the dirt.

Eating dirt is bad, right?

Well, not necessarily. A quick googling revealed that some believe eating dirt is good for children. That it’s akin to their immune system exploring the environment and helping to build the appropriate responses to outside stimuli. That kids who eat dirt are better off than kids who don’t.

So I suppose our daughter eating dirt is nothing to panic about. As long as it doesn’t become her favorite meal it’s okay and maybe even beneficial. All I know is that a few hours after the dirt eating disaster I had to change a diaper that was soiled. Literally.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Liz permalink
    July 9, 2010

    I’m laughing out loud reading these – absolutely hilarious.

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  4. June 2, 2013

    Great post.

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