Little ones are notoriously cute, with their big grins and chubby cheeks. A morning hug makes even the smelliest of nappies worthwhile, which is why you want to protect them from all the germs and viruses their toys and paraphernalia can harbour. However, with toy libraries and play groups, children are more susceptible to picking up a virus, cold or tummy ache more easily than you would imagine.
So how can you minimise the amount of germs picked up by your little one?
From when your child was first born, they may have formed an attachment to a particular soft toy, which is often referred to as the child’s ‘lovey’. More often than not, these small teddies or comfort blankets are a big part of the bedtime routine, with the child refusing to sleep without knowing that the comforter is nearby. With being constantly dragged around, chewed and dribbled on; these loveys can get pretty filthy, even if they don’t look it. Most are machine washable, so, during the day when your child is occupied, put the comforter on for a quick spin. Try to opt for a less pungent detergent as one of the things your child associates with their toy is its smell.
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Sterilise cups, cutlery and other plastic items
If your toddler still makes use of a dummy, it is important that this too is sterilised on a regular basis. Saliva, food and milk residue harbours a whole host of bacteria and can make for upset tummies. Often when washed, the water can become trapped slightly in the dummy itself, so squeezing it to release this water will help. Sterilising these items every so often will also reduce bacterial build up.
Cups can have milk residue which has built up, which can go sour and even mouldy around the rims. Bacteria can even seep into the plastic itself, meaning that even when washed, the cup can still be germy. Again, sterilising the sippy cup will help.
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Bath Toys and Mats
Rubber ducks, fish and other such bath toys which spurt water, often do not fully dry out between uses. This causes black mould to form inside the toy, where it is less visible and harder to clean. Similarly, bath mats, which are left to sit between uses often form black mould in and between the suction dots. So ensure between uses, the toys are dried as well as possible and your bath mats are washed after every use.
Playgroups are where most children pick up coughs, colds and viruses. This is usually owing to the fact that children all share the toys, and the toys are rarely washed. It only takes one child to be carrying a virus for multiple children and families to end up sick. It is therefore advisable that children wash their hands before and after attending playgroups. When borrowing a toy from a library; use an antibacterial wipe to disinfect it before you child plays with it.
Pushchairs and Trikes
A fantastic day out may include a trip to the zoo, beach, or the local petting farm, where children can pet the animals. Although parents are often vigilant when it comes to ensuring their child has washed their hands after touching the animals or fence posts; rarely do parents consider to wash the wheels of any pushchairs or trikes that have been taken, which trawl through excrement, mud, soiled straw and other such debris.
At petting farms, copious bacterial diseases linger, and are easily spread. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common bacteria found at farms may include; E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella and Influenza (particularly bird and swine flu). When preparing food, we regularly wipe surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat and egg owing to the risk of Salmonella, and the knowledge that bacteria spreads. Yet when it comes to our child’s pushchairs and trikes; we seemingly believe that the germs and bacteria collecting on the wheels and lower portions of the buggy would not multiply and spread to the nearby areas, such as the carry tray, that lies close to the floor, which brings us to our next point...
Many parents use the carry tray to store food and drinks, which either produce crumbs or spill whilst the buggy bumps along. Seldom is the carry tray wiped, washed or cleaned, which means new food and drink is being stored where bacteria has formed from old spillages.
Toddlers are notoriously curious, and will touch or pick up most items, whether or not they are considered to be sanitary - mud from the garden, remote controls… you name it, your child will touch it! It is therefore essential that you teach your toddler good hygiene practices from an early age. Help them to wash their hands before and after meal times, and when they come in from a trip out. Children constantly touch items such as shopping trolley handles, which have been touched by thousands of people. When it comes to your child’s health, it pays to be cautious.
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