Your sweet baby is at a wonderful stage in her life. Her world is interesting and new, and she is continually exploring everything around her. That’s the good news! The not-so-good news is that part of this exploration involves her putting everything – absolutely everything — in her mouth. As a mom, you are constantly ensuring that your child stays safe and healthy, and a large part of that battle is keeping germs and bacteria far away. So, when your little angel sucks on her stuffed animal or puts her favorite ducky in her mouth, eats the board book while you’re reading it or slobbers on her tummy time blanket, you are Mrs. Clean to the rescue.
Now, before you put on your rubber gloves, grab the bleach and a bucket, let’s discuss how often Baby’s toys should be cleaned as this should not be an everyday household chore. If certain toys are looking particular gummy or grimy, it’s a good time to clean them. Baby’s “favs,” or everyday toys should probably be cleaned once a week. If you are at a baby playdate and your child’s BFFs are putting your toys in their mouths, it’s a good idea to separate those for cleaning. And of course, anytime your child is sick – diarrhea, cold, fevers or stomach bug – you want to sanitize toys to prevent continual spread of germs. Otherwise, once a month should be a good, healthy schedule for keeping playthings clean. Now you know the When; let’s tackle the What and the How to wash baby toys.
Plastic Toys: One of the best ways to wash plastic toys is with hot, soapy water, and for a little extra elbow grease, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adding a bit of vinegar and baking soda to the mix. Another option, assuming the toys don’t have batteries, fabric, buttons or other non-plastic parts is to run them through a gentle cycle in your dishwasher; you can even use a lingerie bag or your cutlery holder so that the toys stay in one place. Toothbrushes or nailbrushes are great tools to help you get into little crevices and creases. When finished with cleaning, let the toys air dry and they’ll be good to go by morning!
Wooden Toys: You don’t want to submerge these in water, so a better option is to wipe down the toys with a clean cloth, slightly dampened with a mix of vinegar and warm soapy water. Microfiber cloths are great for this chore and will help you keep wooden toys in good condition. And here’s a little-known secret: use a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol to clean off especially dirty spots and stains and then wipe off with a damp cloth.
Books-a-Million: You know that reading to your baby is great for her, no matter how young or old. However, keeping her little library clean is another story altogether! For Baby’s books, you can wipe these down (board books, too) with a 50/50 mix of distilled white vinegar and warm, soapy water. When done, stand the books upright with pages separated so they all can dry. All ready to read again!
Fabric Fun: Blankies, plush animals and other fabric toys are probably some of your baby’s favorites to put in her mouth because they are so nice and soft. When these get soggy with germs, the easiest thing to do is to put them through a gentle cycle in your washing, preferably with smaller items in a lingerie bag. If you want to give them an especially thorough clean, pop them in the dryer on medium for 15 minutes. Afterwards, you can let anything that is still wet air dry. However, be careful – especially with plush – about batteries and toys that make noise. A cycle in the washer will silence them forever!
Bath Time Fun: While your baby may be getting fresh and clean in the bathtub, her toys are not. Since bath toys are used frequently, you want to soak these weekly to keep them clean – and free of mold and other bacteria. Once again, a 50/50 mix of hot water and vinegar will do the trick – you can also run them through your dishwasher and be done with it. Be sure to periodically inspect toys, like a rubber ducky, that takes in water as sitting water will definitely cause bacteria or mold to build up.
It is unrealistic – and impossible – to create a completely clean environment in which your little one can play. Germs are a part of life and definitely a part of parenthood! However, these simple routines can keep your baby a little bit healthier and you a lot happier!
Happy Cleaning & most of all, Happy Parenting!