9 Gross Things Parents Do But Don’t Always Know It

Mom shares baby food with baby

Even the most germ-phobic moms are guilty of committing some of the grossest parenting sins. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’re committing them. Here are the nine grossest things parents commonly do, and the reasons you should reconsider doing them.

1. Using bulb syringe aspirators.

Ever cut one of these babies open? Chances are if you do it will be filled with mold, especially if you’re the type of mom who washes it in warm, soapy water after each use. While it makes sense that the dark, moist end of the bulb would be the perfect place for mold to grow, that’s easily forgotten when you’re trying to help your child overcome his congestion.

2. Giving their kids squeaky bath toys.

If you’ve ever gone a little too long between baths and squeaked your child’s rubber ducky, you may have become grossed out with the chunks of mold and slime that escaped.  Bath toys are another friend of mold. Once the moisture gets in, it’s the perfect breeding ground for nastiness.

3. Sharing a spoon.

Share a spoon and you’re sharing cavity causing germs too.  While it can be tempting to give or take a taste, don’t, unless you want to pass germs back and forth.

4. Forgetting to take apart the sippy cups.

Many parents are surprised to learn that their child’s sippy cups come apart, and that they need to be taken apart to be cleaned after each use. If they aren’t cleaned properly, mold can form inside the straw or where the suction device attaches to the cup.

5. Putting half used jars of baby food in the fridge.

It’s certainly convenient to feed your baby out of the jar, but putting the leftovers into the fridge after you’ve been double-dipping is a no-no.  Your baby’s saliva will contaminate the food and render the remaining supply useless. 

6. Wiping food off their baby’s face with their freshly licked thumb.

Licking your thumb and wiping to wipe a smudge of food of your child’s face is just gross. Even grosser? Licking your thumb after you’ve wiped away the smudge. 

7. Sniffing their baby’s butt in public.

I mean, really. Most every parent has done it, but watching someone else do it is just downright disgusting. Chances are if you have to sneak a sniff to check if your baby needs a diaper change, she probably does.

8. Licking the pacifier clean.

The pacifier drops on the ground at the park and there’s just no way to clean it. What’s a good mommy do? She licks that thing clean. In addition to being gross, doing so can spread germs- from the ground to you and from you to your baby.  Simple solution? Keep extras and a water bottle on hand instead.

9. Letting the humidifier run without cleaning it.

Some humidifiers require their filters to be changed, others don’t. Regardless, there are nooks and crannies asking for mold to grow in most humidifiers. Before you fill it up with more water, take it apart and give it a onceover, removing any mold or nastiness that’s appeared.

(I’m guilty of doing one, okay, or more of these. Ewww! Thanks to Hannah Anderson who wrote about all this nastiness and clued me in. You can find more of Hannah’s great advice like “20 of the Best Potty Training Bribes Ever,” over at Full-Time Nanny.)


  1. Allie says

    Number 8. While I agree that rinsing off a pacifier that fell on the ground, before putting it in your mouth is a great idea, so is putting the pacifier in your mouth, before giving it back to baby. Studies have come out that show this helps boost their immune systems, prevent eczema, allergies and asthma.




  2. KD says

    Sharing spoons, cups, and other utensils and licking the pacifier both are not really concerning. When you live together, you already share all the same germs, so it really makes no difference. On a related note, studies have found that infants who are exposed to more germs early in life are healthier in the long run.


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