Ashley Batz/Romper

How To Properly Sanitize Your Baby's Most Used Items, Because Those Things Are A Germ Paradise

Ad failed to load

My house is probably a breeding ground for every possible germ. I like a clean home as much as the next girl, but with four boys ages eight and younger I take what I can get. I'm usually able to keep it looking presentable, but there are times when I can't remember when I last mopped the floors or really scrubbed the high chair. A little grime isn't the end of the world, of course, but this awful flu season has me worried about my infant, so I figured out how to properly sanitize baby toys and gear, to hopefully keep sickness at bay.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a difference between cleaning and sanitizing, and parents should know it. "Cleaning uses soap and water to physically remove germs from the bottle. Sanitizing is an extra step to kill more germs on items that have been cleaned. Sanitizing provides more protection against all infections," the CDC website explains.

It is well known that babies explore their environment primarily by putting things in their mouths, yet even babies too young to do that come in contact with more germs than you realize through the simple ins and outs of daily life. So how often should baby items be sanitized? Fisher Price recommends it be a weekly ritual.

Ad failed to load

"Don't go crazy scrubbing your baby's toys and other play equipment too frequently, but be sure to give them a good once-over when you notice they're particularly gummed up with food or saliva," the company states. The toy manufacturer encourages parents to clean "everyday toys" weekly in addition to extenuating circumstances like after play dates or when recovering from sickness.

According to the Fisher Price website, how you sanitize toys should depend on how they are made. Plastic toys can be submerged in boiling water or run through the dishwasher. Wooden toys can't be submerged without damage, so wiping them down with a vinegar-soaked cloth should do the trick. Fabric items can go in the washing machine and dryer as long as they don't have batteries, in which case, spot cleaning will have to do. Bath toys should be soaked weekly in a 50-50 mixture of hot water and vinegar, or alternatively, run through the dishwasher. Metal cars and trains can be dunked in a mixture of bleach and water.

Ad failed to load

And what about sanitizing baby furniture like the high chair, the bouncer, and the swing? Some of the same principles apply. Remove all fabric pieces and, unless there is a battery pack inside, throw them in the washer (with a baby-safe detergent) and dryer where the heat will work its sanitizing magic. Then wipe down the item's hard surfaces with a cloth and a disinfectant. Many parents opt for an all-natural or baby-friendly brand free of hazardous chemicals, but for an even more natural, but highly effective approach, Mary Findley, cleaning expert and author recommended using a vinegar and water solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water) on "If anyone in your family has a cold or flu wipe these surface with hydrogen peroxide to kill any lingering germs." she explained. For hard to reach areas, consider using an old toothbrush to do the hard work for you.

Keeping your home sanitary is certainly beneficial in avoiding illness, but some scientific evidence suggests that its possible to go too far. Parents magazine has reported that kids who don't get enough exposure to germs may not get the practice they need battling them, resulting in immune systems that can't self-regulate. This can actually lead to autoimmune disorders like allergies or asthma.

Ad failed to load

Such information can easily make a parent feel they can't win, but as with most things moderation is probably the key. Allowing our kids to have healthy exposure to natural germs, especially through outdoor play, is important. And indoors, a once a week cleaning is probably the most any of us can realistically handle anyway.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik