Once your baby turns a couple of months old, he or she starts to discover the world. The eyes begin to see clearly, and the hands can now grab on to toys. Soon after, babies explore these toys and other things, by putting everything in their mouth.
It might seem strange but actually at this age, their sense of taste is the strongest. This is why they prefer to “taste” everything they can get their hands on. Plus when they start to teeth, they would chew their hands and whatever is around. This is why cleanliness is very important when you have a baby at home.
How Toys Become Dirty
Even if your baby is mostly at home and staying on the playpen most of the time, it does not mean that their toys do not become dirty. There are many causes of grime and germs that can get into toys, and in turn get transferred to the mouth. From there they may cause illnesses to your little one, which is bad considering his or her immune system is still developing.
Washing hands after going to the bathroom or touching raw food can expose any person to a whole lot of germs. Even if the baby does not do this, parents or siblings who have bad hygiene and then touch baby toys after can transmit these microbes. Moms or dads are especially guilty when they do not properly clean their hands after changing diapers.
Contact With Unclean Surfaces
Parents might sometimes fail to realize that these bacteria can live on kitchen countertops or other surfaces where they might put down the baby’s toys. General cleanliness affects the health of everyone at home, all the way to the youngest and most vulnerable member.
Coughing or sneezing on hands or toys will expose them to germs. Whenever a family member gets sick, it might be a good idea to clean everything, especially the toys that your baby loves to put on his or her mouth.
Families with more than one kid are vulnerable to a lot of dirt and bacteria because older kids who go to school or kindergarten may interact with sick children. When they come home and play with the baby, they transfer these to the baby’s toys. It is a good idea to train everyone to wash hands upon coming home to reduce this risk.
Good Cleaning Materials
Parents who are scared of germs accumulating in the baby’s favorite toys might be tempted to just run to the store and grab the strongest disinfectant spray to kill every microbe. While this might be a good idea for certain situations like the kitchen or the toilet, such chemicals do not belong to that stuffed animal your baby bites on the whole day. Can you imagine applying it on something that will end up on the little one’s mouth?
Thankfully, there are other ingredients you can use to clean baby toys. This might depend on the material of the toy, but in general, you may be able to use the following all around the nursery.
- Water and Soap
A basic first step to cleaning baby toys is to use water and soap. If the toys are plastic, rubber or silicone, you can use your normal dishwashing soap and sponge to rub dirt and germs. You may also put them in the dishwasher and run a normal cycle. On the other hand, cloth or stuffed animals can be added to the laundry. It is very important to check the care instructions to be sure it can be washed and at what temperature. Woolen ones should definitely be hand washed only.
However, toys that have wiring and batteries should not be cleaned this way. This is to avoid short circuits when they get wet. You should instead wipe the surface with some of the other materials mentioned below.
- Baking Soda
Toys that are soiled can benefit from some baking soda before being put in the laundry. It may also be added with the normal detergent so that those stains will finally disappear. Beyond this, it might help with some bad odors that might be common to older toys, for example.
The most common household ingredient that can be used to clean toys is vinegar. You can make your own cleaning solution by mixing water and vinegar, applying it to toys using a clean spray. However, most parents are put off by vinegar because of its strong smell. You may try cleaning toys outside so the stink will dissipate, or add some fragrance oil to mask it. Don’t worry, though, because it will fade quickly.
- Lemon Juice
An alternative to baking soda is lemon juice. Spraying a bit on discolored or stained toys before leaving it to dry under the sun will work wonders.
This is normally used as an alternative to bleach, which is harmful and toxic not just for babies. Alcohol is mostly the main ingredient of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. They are perfect for toys that cannot be put in the dishwasher or the laundry machine. This is also a great option while outdoors.
You may create your own mix of water and alcohol in a spray and use as needed. It is recommended to rinse or wipe the surface again before letting your child gnaw on the toy. Make sure that the product you also buy is appropriate for baby toys.
The very high temperatures of steam can remove dirt and kill bacteria without even using any cleaning solution. For parents who are looking for the easiest way not just to clean and disinfect but to also sanitize baby toys, they can invest in a good steam cleaner. However, it might not be appropriate for toys made of thin plastic and other materials that might melt in high temperatures. Refer to the toy’s instructions and tags to be sure if this is recommended.
Most parents who want to use chemical-free and safer cleaning products can mix together their own solution and invest in a good spray to be used when cleaning baby toys. Because whatever you use might end up in your baby’s mouth, it is very important to choose natural and safe ingredients as much as possible.