By Martin Fox, Ph.D.
Having a newborn is exciting but comes with a number of safety concerns! As you childproof your home you need to also consider how to make a baby's sleeping and play spaces safe and clean. Toys, mobiles or other objects that will be in close proximity to a baby should be evaluated from a safety perspective. This includes looking at the potential for viral transmission to a baby.
First, let's talk a little about what we know of COVID-19 since concern about this virus in on everyone's mind. Studies coming out of China indicate babies are very susceptible to catching COVID-19. Thankfully most babies are asymptomatic or have had very minor symptoms. However, there has now been one reported baby death in the US, and there are many unknowns associated with this virus. There are concerns about the possible unidentified, long-term effects this virus could be having on babies during this very critical brain development period.
Like COVID-19, flu, measles and other viruses can survive on hard surfaces for many hours and some can live for days. There is no vaccine yet for COVID-19, and vaccines for flu and measles are not recommended for babies under 6 months These and other pathogens can then be inadvertently transferred through contact with the baby. Clean and disinfect toys and other products by thoroughly washing or using a disinfection cloth-like Cavi Wipes or Lysol wipes. Pay particular attention to any parts of an object that could be touched by a baby directly or another person who then might come in contact with the baby. Cleaning and disinfecting should be done routinely, and absolutely after anyone that could be a carrier comes near a baby. It will help this process greatly if parents choose baby products with surfaces that can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
Martin Fox, Ph.D.
Dr. Fox is the President of PlayAbility Toys - Nurture Smart. He is a former instructor at the University of Arizona and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. Dr. Fox leads the Nurture Smart product design team that has developed baby mobiles and toys in conjunction with clinicians that address the safety concerns noted above. Nurture Smart mobiles are used in over 500 hospitals and thousands of homes in the United States and Canada.