Germ Patrol: Keeping Your Toddlers Safe from Germs

In the Bathroom

Bath toys are a bull's-eye for bacteria and mold, since water often gets trapped inside them, creating the perfect breeding ground. Squeeze out your kid's duckies, tile appliqu?s, and other water playthings after each use, and then place the toys on a drying rack or in a mesh bag, suggests Parents advisor Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., author of Germ Proof Your Kids. Once a month, give the toys a thorough bleach bath, he adds. (To do so, fill the sink with water and a quarter cup of bleach, then let the toys soak for about 50 minutes before rinsing and air-drying.)

Once you start potty training, teach your child to wash his hands after doing his business -- use liquid soap and warm water, and scrub for as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song before drying. Also teach him to shut the lid before flushing. Studies have shown that the first flush after a bowel movement vaporizes up to 3,000 bacteria and viruses per cubic meter of air space, notes Dr. Rotbart, so it's also important to keep your toddler's toothbrush far away from the toilet in case he forgets to close the toilet lid.

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