Posts Tagged ‘germs’

I live in New York and ever day I walk by kiddo playgrounds which I am sure (aside from the city dirt and grime) has plenty of germs. In any metropolitan city, or even the suburbs, it is important to get kids outside, playing in the sunshine and most importantly – active and not cooped at home.  So how do you protect your little one from the many germs that reside on public playgrounds?

Firstly – relax. We all follow the smart mommy guide’s anti-germ playbook: regular hand washing, once-a-day kitchen counter wiping, and the like. The vast majority of germs are harmless; experts even say they can be helpful. “Exposure to germs is what teaches young immune systems to fend off bad bugs and mature into efficient germ fighters.”

Secondly – Hand washing is key. Wash before the playground and after the playground. Carry those pop-up wet ones in the car with you at all times. You really can’t keep kids from all the germs in the world. Like I mentioned, actually exposing them to germs (a little at a time) helps build their immune system. Once they are in kindergarten, they are exposed to the same germs so building the immune system now, may help later.

Lastly – public sandboxes are pretty dirty and I would do my best to keep your kids out.

Kids may see the playground sandbox as their own little beach in the city or suburbs, but cats, dogs and other unknown critters consider it a public litter box. Although the risk is small, if your child sticks his fingers into his mouth after playing in sand soiled with animal feces, he or she could get sick with parasites like roundworms, which can lead to fever and stomach pains; or hookworms, which result in painful skin infections and diarrhea. I love handy anti-bacterial wipes! When your kiddo is finished playing, use the handy wipe and then wash them again with soap and water when you get home to remove lingering traces of dirt.

Voila- playing outside isn’t so bad after all!

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Before you panic, it’s important to remember that many germs—millions of them, in fact—are essential for our survival. BUT, during the cold and flu season, I wanted to give you some tips on where germs hide.

Quick Spots to Watch for Germ Hideouts:

  • Steering wheels of children coin-operated rides
  • Shopping cart handles
  • Vending machine slots
  • Bath toys
  • Baby walkers
  • Telephone handset
  • Computer keyboards
  • Television remote control
  • Carpeting, especially wall-to-wall
  • Door handles and door bells
  • Cell phones


  1. DIAPER CHANGES: Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after each and every diaper change.
  2. DOORKNOBS: Infection-causing germs can linger on doorknobs, especially during cold and flu season. Remember to clean them daily or whenever visitors stop by to visit your baby.
  3. STUFFED ANIMALS: Dust mites love to hide inside stuffed animals and other plush toys.  Wash Teddy and his soft friends weekly on a gentle cycle-especially during the winter season. Or if Teddy can stand a little more winter cold, put the stuffed pal in the freezer once a week to kill the mites.
  4. TAKE OUT THE TRASH: Protect the air quality in a baby’s room all winter long by taking out the trash frequently, using a tightly covered diaper pail, keeping pets out of the nursery, and, if possible, choose hardwood floors over dust-and-odor harboring carpets.


  1. FLUSHING: According to BabyZone.com, “”Flushing the toilet with the lid up can send drops of aerosolized [fecal] matter onto toothbrushes, combs and brushes, as well as faucets, sinks and counters.” You can keep germs at bay by sanitizing toilet lids, bowls and seats weekly with a germicidal cleanser.” Wear gloves to protect your hands from water or surface contact, and always use a rinse-able brush or disposable cloth (never a sponge).
  2. LAVO LOS MANOS: It’s recommended that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. That’s about the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice! According to Parents.com, “Nearly 22 million school days are missed each year because of the common cold. Teach your family to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds (sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice), especially when one of you is ill.  This will help prevent spreading sneeze and cough droplets through contact.”

Living Room:

  1. SHOES: Your winter boots protect your feet, but they don’t protect your home from the germs they track inside, so put your boots somewhere they can dry off.
  2. TOYS: Usually, a nontoxic cleanser like soap and water or hydrogen peroxide does the trick. Cold viruses can live for days or even weeks on plastic, vinyl, or metal surfaces such as toy cars (and many germs that cause diarrhea can survive on dry surfaces for months!).  Clean toys regularly in the dishwasher or with dish washing soap and warm water, rinsing thoroughly—especially if a sick friend comes for a play date.

The most germ-infested spot you (and your kids) touch every day is not at the playground or in your bathroom, but on the average kitchen table.

  1. SPONGES: Kitchen sponges are the top source of germs in your whole house, and nobody wins when you “clean” counters and dishes with a dirty sponge.  Zap a damp sponge in the microwave for two minutes, or run it through the dishwasher to clear out the germs before you wipe down surfaces.
  2. GLASSWARE: Remember that cold and flu are most easily transmitted through contact with germs on the rims of drinking glasses. Avoid accidently sharing glasses at home this winter.
  3. RING-A-DING: According to Parents.com, “Telephones can carry upwards of 25,000 microbes per square inch.  If you’re chatting while cooking, get into the routine of wiping down the phone along with the counters and sink every night.”


  1. CUTTING NAILS: We all do it – cut our nails in our bedroom, don’t deny it! Did you know shorter fingernails harbor fewer germs than long nails, and unpolished nails stay cleaner than manicures?  Stick with short, unpolished nails during flu season (if you can).



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When my young sons were exploring the streets of Brooklyn, I couldn’t help but wonder how good crushed rock or dried dog droppings could taste when delicious mashed potatoes were routinely rejected.

Amy can teach us a thing or two about playing in dirt!

Amy can teach us a thing or two about the joys of playing outside in a field of dandelions and...dirt!

So starts one of the latest articles in the New York Times Health section. I couldn’t resist the quote, as I understand having a fussy eater can be incredibly trying! Authored by Jane E. Brody, this is an interesting and short one-page read about germs and health, and how babies (those amazing creatures!), seem to know a little more than we adults do sometimes! Read the full article here…and go play!

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