As every parent knows, baby toys get wet. Whether it’s a well-worn teething toy or a favorite bath-time ducky – where there’s moisture, there’s probably always a possibility for mold.
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The mold inside the bath or teething toy looks yucky and might frighten parents. But does this mold pose a real health danger to babies and children?
While teething toys and bath toys can grow mold, it’s usually not dangerous, because the mold usually appears only in small traces, says pediatrician Kimberly Giuliano, MD.
“In general, these types of mold are not concerning for a healthy child,” Dr. Giuliano says. “A normal immune system is going to fight off this mold just fine and trace levels of mold are all around our environment. It doesn’t only come from toys like these.”
When mold is a concern
There is more cause for concern, however, for children who have allergies or a compromised immune system, Dr. Giuliano says.
Children undergoing chemotherapy, taking certain medications or who have received an organ transplant are at higher risk for infections and as a result, parents need to be more vigilant, she says.
Mold is likely to grow anywhere there is moisture and darkness. So whenever possible, try to dry out any toys that continually get wet.
The good news is that most of these toys can be cleaned, Dr. Giuliano says. Try to avoid letting any additional moisture into the toy while cleaning it.
“It’s best to wipe these toys with warm soapy water, or a little bit of bleach, and avoid the area around that hole where the moisture could potentially get in and grow some mold,” said Dr. Giuliano.
Dr. Giuliano said if a toy has been put into storage for a while and is a couple of years old, it’s probably worth replacing before passing it down to younger siblings.
If there are obvious signs of a problem — like if the toys smells foul — she definitely recommends throwing it away.
Also, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s advice for cleaning a toy, she says. Sometimes special care is required for some toys that may be different from other toys your child owns.
You can check a toy’s packaging for care instructions before discarding it. If the packaging has already been thrown away, check the manufacturer’s website.