Bath Time - Check your toys


The Ugly Duckling:
Bath toys are full of bacteria and infected water.

Happy children playing with their toys in the bath is a cute and cuddly sight. However, it gets less cozy, when you realize that the cavity in bath toys is the perfect breeding ground for some particularly malevolent bacteria that infest the bath water.

Ten years ago, infection control nurse Elisabeth Pettersson proved how hollow bath toys with a hole in them store bacteria that can lead to ear infections and infections of sores. Just four years ago, the American microbiologist Philip Tierno also showed the link between bath toys and dermatitis, diarrhea and nausea in children. Yet many parents do not realize that it is almost impossible to avoid bacteria in the bath water if their children play with bath toys with holes in them.

'You can clean and disinfect every surface in the bathroom, but the real villain is the climate inside plastic ducks and other hollow toys, which is moist and warm. Bath water contaminated with bacteria from the child’s body is sucked up into the toy and can survive there for months’, explains nurse Elisabeth Pettersson, who conducted a very thorough investigation of the problem in 1999. 'It's very difficult to make people understand that these innocent and cute-looking toys are actually breeding grounds for e.coli and strep bacteria and therefore hazardous to your child’s health’.

Terese Hoffeldt is the founder of Hevea, a company which produces pacifiers and toys in natural rubber. 'It amazes me that there is not more focus on the bacterial danger that these toys represent. Not to mention the fact that most plastic toys excrete toxins when the plastic gets warm. The result is that many parents unsuspectingly let their children play in a soup of bacteria and toxins every time they put them in the bath’, says Terese. Hevea was originally founded because Terese herself was unable to find a pacifier without toxins for her daughter. She consequently decided to manufacture one herself and followed up that success with bath toys, teething toys etc.

'It's really important to make sure your children wash their hands and to keep a clean home in general, but if you want to improve your children’s health in one swift move – just open the trash can and throw out every bath toy with a hole in them', concludes infection control nurse Elisabeth Pettersson.

Emma Primrose
30 March 2014  |  7:44

Hot glue gun and seal the hole, first thing we do with any new bath toy