At the Playground
Thanks to the sheer number of kids who use them each day, the swings, slides, and rings at your local park are teeming with germs. It's practically impossible to keep your child's hands off the equipment, so instead focus on keeping her fingers out of her mouth while she's playing and use alcohol-based gel on her hands when she's taking a breather and before you give her any snacks. Same goes for when she's digging in the sandbox (you might assume it's germy because animals may use it as a bathroom, but the risk actually isn't very big, Dr. Rotbart assures).
You'll also take some extra precautions at the water fountain, since germs can multiply with moisture. Tell your child to keep her tongue and lips away from the spigot, and then let the water run for a few seconds before she takes a sip. Once she's refreshed, she can get back to playing -- and you can relax knowing she's (relatively) germ-free.
Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine.