Kids, Toys, Germs and the Pediatrician’s Office: What Parents Need to Know
You may want to steer your kiddos away from the toys offered in your pediatrician’s office and bring your own treasures from home instead, say experts.
Trying to prevent a nasty cold or flu this season? You may want to steer your kiddos away from the toys offered in your pediatrician’s office and bring your own treasures from home instead, say experts.
That’s right. In a newly released set of guidelines, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has formally suggested this strategy as a way to prevent the spread of germs. Their guidelines go on to state that pediatrician offices should also no longer contain plush or stuffed kid’s toys, since these products can harbor high amounts of sickness-inducing bacteria and be difficult to clean.
Hard or soft, health experts say the real issue lies in office hygiene. “The reality is that most viruses can live on a hard surfaces like toys for at least 24 hours which is something that can set the stage for illness,” explains Dr. Lara Darling, pediatrician at Indiana University Health. “And softer, fabric or plush-like toys can be sponges for germs and bacteria when not cleaned regularly.”
So what should parents do?
“Any hard surface, toys included, can be cleaned with disinfectants, but it would be impossible for a medical office to clean all of these items frequently enough or thoroughly enough to get all of the viruses and germs off that pass through these environments on a daily basis,” explains Dr. Rebecca Dixon, pediatrician at IU Health, who’s also a mother of young children.
Her advice: Tote along a few favorite toys from home, she says. “Opt for harder, plastic items that can be cleaned thoroughly and quickly at home once you return from the doctor’s office.”
Can’t keep your kiddo from the office’s toy bin?
“Just stop and wash your child’s hands before they leave the pediatrician’s office as an extra step to ward off sickness,” suggest Dr. Dixon.
-- By Sarah Burns