Germ Patrol: Keeping Your Toddlers Safe from Germs

During Playtime

Though a well-loved toy may start to smell a little funky, there's no need to worry about germs -- unless your child is sick or has been sharing it with a playmate. "Influenza viruses can survive up to three days on plastic, and ones that cause diarrhea can survive for up to a month," warns Dr. Gerba. So after a friend comes to visit (or your sick child is done playing), give plastic toys a once-over with a disinfectant, and toss stuffed animals that can be cleaned into the washing machine (others should be placed on a top shelf for a few days, suggests Dr. Rotbart).

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