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Sound machines can be an amazing tool to support baby sleep and even parent sleep! Babies are notoriously loud sleepers, between the grunts, gas, and short crying bursts, those little noises will keep you up all night long! There are plenty of reasons to use a sound machine for Baby’s, but we can all agree…
Babies have their own unique ways of exploring things around them.
With their natural curiosity, they are very eager to every little thing about their surroundings, including their toys. Unfortunately, they tend to answer their curiosities by putting things in their mouth to discover taste and texture.
Mouthing is a part of a baby’s natural development, that’s why it’s important to maintain the surroundings clean, especially their toys. When toys are passed around, dropped on the floor, or placed on a dirty surface, they can attract germs and viruses that we don’t want near our children’s bodies, especially in their mouths. With their weaker immune system, it’s easy for babies and younger children to get sick.
Hence, regularly cleaning your child’s toy properly should be a part of your regular parenting routine. In this article, we will know more about 6 ways to effectively and safely clean your child’s toys and how often should you consider cleaning them. The effective cleaning method will depend on what type of toy needs to be cleaned.
How Often Should You Clean Your Baby’s Toys?
The rule of thumb that most parents follow is to clean the toys if the child is frequently using them. And yes, you should clean the toys regularly even if it’s still not looking dirty. Frequently used toys usually need a bit of scrubbing at least once a week while least-favorite toys can wait for a little while.
Toys that will likely be nipped upon by your young ones would need frequent attention. Wash these toys every day or after each playing session. This is to ensure that each toy is clean and properly washed each time your child plays with it.
Wash the toys immediately if your pets had carried or licked your baby’s toys with the mouth. You should also clean and disinfect the toys when shared with a sick child or touched by any sick person. And make it a habit to do wash your child’s toys after playdates and travels. After each cleaning session, don’t forget to store these items in a clean and dry environment.
Each type of toy requires different methods of cleaning due to different material properties. For instance, washing plushies and other soft toys using water and soap might not be a good idea. On the other hand, almost any cleaning method should be fine on plastic toys. You can check out which cleaning method works best with your child’s toys on the list below.
1. For Plastic Toys
Plastic toys are very popular with both babies and parents alike. Babies love the bright colors and different size options that stimulate their cognitive functions. Parents love the ease and convenience when it comes to cleaning these toys. The best way to clean plastic toys is to clean them with hot water and soap (or dishwashing soap).
You can bulk-wash these items by using a dishwasher (on the top rack).
2. For Stuffed Toys
Machine-washable soft toys are a thing, there are manufactured teddies out there that can be safely tucked into the washer. But for the unwashable bunch, the best way to keep them clean is to spot clean them before the dirt sticks to the surface. Use a clean cloth to wipe the surface, feel free to add a lovely scent to keep it refreshing.
3. For Wooden Toys
Wooden toys such as building blocks and some train sets would not end well when submerged with water and soap. Moisture can encourage mold growth or weaken the wood when it dries out. To clean wooden toys, the best way is to use a soft brush to remove dirt and a soft cloth for other unwanted things. You can also spray vinegar or a non-toxic multipurpose cleaner before wiping things with a dry cloth.
4. For Bath Toys
Bath toys are not used for a prolonged period of time, but they are still considered as frequently used items. Unfortunately, you cannot use warm water to clean these toys, which can develop mold and mildew. To keep them clean and mold-free, wash them with soap and water after use and keep them dry. Make sure to squeeze hollow items to avoid residual water from staying in.
5. For Gadgets
Baby gadgets and electronic devices require a bit more attention during the cleanup. Although there are instances when battery-powered toys can be cleaned with water, the best way to clean electronic toys is to use surface wipes to avoid short-circuiting electrical components.
6. During Travels
Baby toys still require regular cleaning even on travels (in fact, even on short trips). You never know when it will fall to the ground or when dirt goes into it. During these trips, the best way to immediately clean and disinfect your baby’s toys is via surface cleaning wipes.
Put them in your diaper bag to make them more accessible.
When my daughter was a baby, every car ride ended in tears—hers, and often mine. She could only entertain herself for a few minutes before starting to wail. It was so bad that for a while, we tried to just stay close to home, going to local playgrounds instead of meeting friends across the city.
Unfortunately, some kids just hate their car seats. “My daughter screamed every time she was in the car as a baby,” says Toronto parenting coach Sarah Rosensweet. “I remember her screaming, and then I would get so upset, I was almost sweating.”
But we can’t always just stay home. Grocery-store trips and school runs for older siblings are facts of life. So what can you do if you have a pint-sized protester in your back seat? Here are some tricks to try if your baby or toddler hates car rides.
Start with the basics—maybe your baby is uncomfortable for some reason. Is there light shining in their eyes? Is it hot or cold in the backseat? Are the straps adjusted correctly, so they’re not too tight or too loose, and are they in the right spot behind their shoulders?
“The straps could be pinching skin, the buckles might be hot from the sun, or the baby may be cold,” says Shawn Pettipas, director of Community Engagement at BCAA, which runs one of the largest carseat education programs in B.C. “There could be lots of reasons.”
Check your seat
Next, double-check your car seat is installed correctly—most aren’t. “You really do need to make sure that your child is correctly reclined for their age and stage,” says Pettipas. An incorrect angle can be uncomfortable, and be dangerous—your baby could suffocate if their neck is at the wrong angle. It’s different for every seat, so Pettipas recommends going to a car seat safety clinic or checking the manual of your car seat to make sure you’ve got it right.
Some parents find switching from an infant bucket seat to a roomier convertible style can help their babies feel better. Look for one that’s safe for your baby’s age—they do go all the way down to newborns (though most parents choose the portability of infant bucket seats at this age). Other young babies are the opposite, and are calmed by feeling a bit more snug. A safe way to do that is to roll up two receiving blankets, and tuck them in the sides of the seat.
Whatever you do, don’t turn the seat around from rear-facing to front-facing too early. “I’m asked all the time if parents can turn the seat, because they think the baby doesn’t like being rear-facing. They think they’re upset because of that, or maybe they have some FOMO,” says Dina Kulik, a paediatrician in Toronto. “But babies absolutely need to be rear-facing until at least two years of age, and actually as long as you can possibly go. Later is better.”
Test out different feeding schedules
Rosensweet suspects her daughter was screaming because she was feeling ill—as she got older, it became clear that she had carsickness. “Now, she takes Gravol before car rides,” she explains. (Note that Gravol is not safe for kids under age two.)
It’s unusual to have a carsick kid who doesn’t show it, says Kulik. “Usually you would know if it’s carsickness, because your child would be vomiting. Carsickness is much less common than parents think,” says Kulik.
Kids who are carsick tend to do better on an empty stomach, so putting your baby or toddler in the seat after it’s been awhile since they’ve eaten can help. Having the windows open or the air conditioning on can also help with motion sickness.
Distract, distract, distract
Try to make your baby forget that they’re strapped in, and perhaps a bit further away from their parent than they’d like, by making it fun. Talk to them, play kids music, or just belt out a few tunes. While it’s not safe to offer snacks that could be a choking hazard in a moving car, car seat-safe mirrors can be very helpful, says Kulik, because babies like looking at themselves. (If you do offer a pouch or puffs in the car seat, a mirror can help you keep an eye on them while they’re rear-facing.)
When babies are a little older—usually after about nine months old—toys can help distract them, too.“Having some special toys that they only get to play with when they’re in the car seat can work really well,” says Rosensweet. Just make sure they’re age-appropriate and soft, like stuffies or pillows, because hard toys can injure passengers in a crash. “Everything that is not tied down gains weight exponentially in a collision,” says Deanna Lindsay, executive director of SEATS for Kids, an organization that runs car seat inspection clinics in Ontario. “I usually say, would it hurt you if I threw it at you? Then it can’t be in the car.”
Empathize and console
For many parents, car seats are one of the first times they have to set a boundary that their child is unhappy with.
To help a baby or toddler through big feelings, the first step is to stay calm. Little kids naturally co-regulate and match your internal state, says Rosensweet, so give yourself some empathy first. “You might think, my child is really upset, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” she says. “This is really hard.”
Then, validate your child’s emotions. “You could say—even over the screaming—‘Oh sweet pea, you hate the car seat so much, this is so hard. You wish you weren’t in the car seat so badly. Mama’s going to get you out in a few minutes,” she says.
For a toddler who is testing boundaries, and able to understand and communicate more than a baby can, you might want to take a bit of a harder line. “The key thing is to stay very neutral,” says Jennifer Kolari, a child and family therapist and the founder of Connected Parenting. “If you’re coming at it from a place of fear, then the child is going to pick up on the idea that they have a lot of power, or maybe this is something bad.” Instead, stay positive, and say something like, “I love you. It’s OK if you’re mad at me, but you’re going in this car seat, and it’s going to be fine.”
It builds resilience—and it’s a good chance for you to practice responding in a helpful way when they’re upset, she says. “It’s a skill you’ll still be using when they’re teenagers.”
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