Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Toy Sanitation

My son was born about 3 1/2 weeks early and spent 8 days in the NICU. When we went to leave with him, the nurse warned us that he would be more susceptible to RSV, flu, and winter illnesses for his first couple years due to his immune system not having 9 months to develop. SO, I have always tried to be more careful with who and what he is around if people are sick.

With RSV, flu, and all the winter illnesses going around, I've been wondering about this for awhile, and I'm never sure if I clean my son's toys enough. I try to after he has been sick and if I have had little kids over who have been sick. I generally use warm water with a little bleach mixed in and let the toys dry. However, I have never been sure how to sanitize my son's plush toys. I've followed the directions and I'm never quite sure that they are clean.
So, how often, and with what do you sanitize your child's toys?


andrea and heathe said...

hi! when i worked at a daycare, that was the process we used. we would fill up the sink, put a 1/4 of bleach in it, let the toys soak for at least 15 minutes, rinse them off and let them dry overnight. we did it everynight but then again it was a daycare with lots of kids so you might not need to do it that often. i clean my son's toys once a week.

Kelly A. said...

I always just throw stuffed animals/plush toys in the washer and dryer. That is a good question! I wonder if there is a better way to get them more clean???

As for toy sanitizing, I clean them after anyone has been sick but besides that I don't have a set schedule. I guess I just try to do it when I think about it and am doing other household chores. This is going to make be more conscious of it though, so thanks Megan! :)

And maybe I am a dork for actually looking at the website after I saw the Clorox commercial on TV, but I thought that had some great tips!

Jes said...

The 'hard'/regular toys Iwash with warm water and soap often... but if we've been sick or other kids have been over and all that, then I do the whole disinfecting and bleach too.

As for plush toys, I generally just let her (my baby is only 8 months) play with ones that I know I can machine wash because Ive read many a tag and they usually just say 'wipe with damp cloth to clean'... and that doesnt quite sound like it does the job enough for me, so thats what Im wondering too... do you other moms mashine wash ALL plush toys?

andrea and heathe said...

i forgot to add that we just wash our plush toys/stuffed animals in the washing machine, which sounds like what most of you guys do :)(thanks kelly!)

Jared and Delia said...

Wow. I guess I am not as much of a clean freak as I thought - and especially not as much as my husband thinks :).

I am careful about cleaning my entire house - every Monday, washing sheets and towels - every week at least, washing my hands and using hand sanitizer - the soap and alcohol level from the sanitizer in my blood stream is probably higher than most, but sanitizing toys is an area that I don't focus too much on. When I was nesting and pregnant with #2 I was obsessed with sanitizing everything in bleach baths and with anywhere spray every Wednesday. I am a schedule maniac at times. Now I just do it every now and then when I think about it or if we have been sick.

With both my babies, before about six months (and before they have had immunizations) I am uber careful about who they are around, if people have washed their hands and I didn't let them play with toys that weren't super sanitized and clean. After that I ease into not letting my house be so clean that my children are never exposed to any germs because that can backfire. Eventually, I let them eat dirt (depending on where we are), play with my keys, and not stress about it too much. I figure some germs are actually good for them. With your baby being extra susceptible to germs Megan, I guess I would take a little more precaution, but really good hand washing and continuing what you are doing already is probably a good balanced approach.

I work in the kids care center at my gym and for the first few months we were sick every week. Now... I know my oldest has been around kids with RSV or other scary diseases and he has remained pretty healthy. He is not immune, but I figure it is impossible to keep them in a bubble. Eventually they do go to school. Letting them be exposed to germs allows them to build up a healthy immunity, which is why it is normal for them to have around 9 colds during the second year of life. I hope I am remembering that statistic accurately.

Sorry this is really long!

Jared and Delia said...

Sorry for expressing my opinions as fact. I mean to say that is how I feel anyway.

Jes said...

I agree though Delia, no worries... most kids need SOME sort of small exposure to the normal things so as to keep them healthy and stronger immune systems... lol. plus it 'builds character' right? :)

Tannie Datwyler said...

Okay, side note. . . my computer shut down on my while I was in the middle of writing my comment for this, so now I am SUPER mad and this one might not be as coherent. In any case, I'll try to recreate what I said. . .

Here are my two cents. I am so far from being a germ/clean freak it isn't even funny. Do you think that how we clean/sanitize things has anything to do with how we were raised? Neither of my parents (I lived with my mom for a long time and then with my dad) have been into sterilizing toys. Therefore, this is something I rarely if ever do.

Those that know me well know that I have an inborn organizational disease. Everything must be in its place and put away. There must be order or else I go insane. Chaos drives me CRAZY. I am obsessive about TO DO lists, I live my life by a routine/schedule (and often get very annoyed if it is messed up). I am not spontaneous and predicitability actually makes me happy. I clean up my house probably 3 or more times a day. Don't worry though, I don't follow my child around cleaning up after her (we put away toys before nap times and before her dad gets home and before bed). Things must be put away though for me to have peace of mind.

However, when it comes to germs and cleaning things I am probably pretty lax. Now, don't think I am some kind of weird dirty person, but I know that I don't do nearly as much as you are all mentioning. The dishes are done daily, and the counters are wiped off several times a day. The bathroom is scrubbed, floors swept and vacuumed, and laundry done once a week. I certainly don't wash my sheets every week, like I know many do, and I don't clean my toys weekly either.

Now, I think that I need to be a little bit better about cleaning my kids' toys, but come on, my little girl has two toyboxes full of toys. . . how in heaven's name am I supposed to clean all those every week?

With that in mind, here is the sickness history for my little one.

My little girl got sick 2 MAYBE 3 times the first year of her life. And by sick I mean, a minor cold. The second year of her life, she got sick pretty bad with a cold that made her cough so hard she threw up, and then she also got a stomach virus once. I didn't even notice any minor colds. So in the first two years of her life, she was sick enough for me to take note and be slightly alarmed, maybe 3 times, and had a few minor colds. In all that time I never santitized toys on a frequent basis or anything of the sort.

Now, in her third year of life. . . that is a different story. In the last 6 months, she has probably been sick with colds at least 10 times. This is UBER annoying to me. She even got RSV once. I am unsure what the change is.

Like Delia, I am inclined to think that if you clean and sanitize everything your child won't be exposed to germs and therefore will not have as strong of an immune system. However, I know I am probably too lax. Where is the balance?

What is the reason do you think that my little girls has been so sick these last six months? Is it because she has been going to nursery and is exposed to more kids? What can I do to help?

I think perhaps I will try to wash her toys more, but I am unsure how to do that - like I said, she has a million toys. What would you recommend? I think I will also put more emphasis on washing hands. At the same time, I am very frustrated because she was so healthy for two years with me doing minor cleaning of her toys. Then all of the sudden she is sick all the time.

In any case, I'll stop because this is long.. . but I'd rather like your thoughts on that.

Megan said...

Besides nursery, has there been any other change in what she does? Does she hang out with cousins more, or other little people from your ward more often than nursery? The toy thing, I would clean the toys she or Linus plays with most. I don't think you need to clean every single one.

Jared and Delia said...

I agree with Megan. I would clean the ones most used or whatever she played with while she was really sick.

Just some thoughts to help you figure out the increased number of illnesses:

Kids get stressed too which weakens immune systems. She might be stressed from the changes of gaining a brother.

I have heard of more cases of RSV reported in this area than in years past - could just be that it is just going around more than it did in past years.

She got by pretty well not getting sick much those first two years. Maybe she was catching up on building immunity to things she wasn't exposed to earlier.

And stinks to have your kids sick, but it is a necessary evil. I hate it when my kids are sick, but I just have to remind myself that it is bound to happen and can make their bodies stronger. I feel for you though. It is not only hard to see your child suffer but it starts to get old having to stay inside and away from people for a long time.

JeriLynn said...

I am not a cleaner. Once in a while, I will wash toys in soapy water, but I've never bleached or used Lysol spray or anything. I'm more afraid of the spray chemicals getting in my baby than I am of germs!

I participated in a baby-health study with Liesl while we were in Logan. Preliminary findings of that study show that babies who are massaged don't get sick as often as those who are rocked (like Liesl), sung to, or talked to. I massaged Mira daily, and still do every other day, and the only time she was sick was when she got a urinary tract infection. That's while I've had the flu twice-ish and Liesl's been throwing-up sick.

So baby massage is something to think about to keep your baby healthy.

Jared and Delia said...


Wow. That is great advice. Thanks!

Tara said...

Hey Megan....trying to get in touch w/ you about this post/giveaway on my blog. can you email me tarabrown at cherishbound dot com

thanks! ♥