15/05/2009 12:47 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

It's OK To Let Your Child Get Dirty

My two-year-old likes nothing more than wallowing in mud and splashing in puddles and I like nothing more than letting him. A relaxed attitude to dirt is apparently spot on.

I admit most days he is a little grubby. It's not that we're strangers to baths or wet wipes, but keeping him clean for more than five minutes is nearly impossible.

Sometimes when I look at other children who seem so clean, with no dirt under their nails and no muddy patches on their jeans, I wonder if I'm a bit too relaxed. But if I ever doubt my laid-back approach, I have a group of scientists in my corner.Dirt is good," says immunologist Dr. Mary Ruebush. "If your child isn't coming in dirty every day, they're not doing their job. They're not building their immunological army."

And part of the job of being a parent is to relax and let them. Her advice is let your children play in the dirt, vaccinate them and use ordinary soap and water.

Apparently modern anti-bacterial hand wash is no more effective at preventing infectious diseases than old-fashioned soap and water and can breed "super bugs" that our bodies and antibiotics can't fight.

But with non-stop children's television and excellent websites and games at the modern parents' disposal it's easy to forget about the messier side of childhood.

The lack of outdoors and natural fun in children's lives today can be linked to obesity, attention disorders and depression according to Richard Louv, author of Last child In the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder,

Getting out in the natural world, splashing in puddles, rolling down grassy hills and squishing mud between your fingers is a brilliant stress buster. Actually, it's one that I plan on enjoying with my son next time he gets close to nature.