Is My Child’s Toy Making Him Sick?

Parents and caregivers understand how vital it is to clean anything and everything that goes into a child’s mouth. The importance of keeping toys clean and sanitized for babies is especially important. Unfortunately, despite care and cleaning, some baby toys are susceptible to mold growth.

The toy in question was made of a soft rubber, ideal for teething babies to chew on. As babies chewed on the toy, spit and bacteria built up inside of the toy, and it became a prime place for mold to grow. One parent noticed an odor and decided to sacrifice the toy and open it up. The parent was horrified at what she found inside the toy- black mold and mushrooms growing inside the toy that had been in her baby’s mouth. The parent compared her discovery to a “science experiment.”

This story isn’t unique to this one toy – it is a danger for any toy that your baby is putting in its mouth, particularly soft, rubber toys that can trap water. In this case, the baby’s saliva, over time, created a damp, moist environment ideal for mold growth. Mold occurs naturally in the air, and only a few spores inside the toy were able to grow. Rubber toys aren’t the only kinds of toys that are susceptible to mold growth. Anything that your baby uses to teethe on becomes damp, making it a source for mold growth. 

The effects of mold on children

The effects of exposure to mold can differ from person to person. Children can be particularly susceptible to mold because their bodies are rapidly developing and their immune systems are weaker than adult immune systems. Mold exposure in children can lead to respiratory problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. In addition to allergies, mold exposure can lead to developmental delays, including brain damage, cognitive deficits, and neurological conditions.  A child’s gastrointestinal system can be compromised if mold enters their stomach, which can result in weight loss and malnourishment. Mold exposure can also cause skin rashes and a range of immune system conditions.

What can you do to keep your child safe?

  • Clean toys regularly (daily or weekly) according to the instructions.
  • Sanitize toys that can be washed on a sanitize cycle or in a microwave.
  • Make sure that toys are thoroughly dried.
  • Check toys for signs of mold growth, including foul odors.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Children delight in discovering the world, which often means chewing or teething on their favorite toys. Parents can help protect their children by keeping these items clean, and stopping mold exposure before it becomes a threat to their baby’s health.