Monkey is a germ magnet.
The truth: Germs can hide in the fur or fabric of a child's stuffed animal, so take measures to keep it clean. "Although most cold and flu viruses will die off within a matter of hours, other germs can survive for days or weeks," explains Kelly A. Reynolds, Ph.D., a microbiologist and associate professor at the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health, in Tucson. If your child had diarrhea, a staph infection, or strep throat, wash the stuffed animal in hot water and put it in the dryer, just as you would her sheets.
Plush toys are also likely triggers of allergies, since allergens, dust mites, and mold can accumulate on them. Dust mites can be killed by occasionally placing the stuffed animal in a zip-top bag and putting it in the freezer overnight, suggests Dr. Reynolds.
Of course, wresting a lovey out of your kid's hands long enough to clean it can sometimes be as tough a challenge as cleaning it. Lisa Johnston, of Tustin, California, takes this approach with her 15-month-old daughter, Aven: "When her stuffed lamb gets dirty, I wash it right when she sits down for breakfast. She's too busy eating to notice it's gone -- and then I can have it ready for her morning nap."