Poor teddy needs more loving care

Isla Whitcraft, writing for the Mail Online, as far back as in 2010, was convinced that the home may harbor more germs than people realized. In fact, she was so concerned that she took matters into her own hands and did an experiment, swabbing areas within the home and sending the swabs to a laboratory for investigation. The results were startling and although other areas showed up as potential risk areas for bacteria, the poor teddy bear showed the potential to carry germs and had a reading for Staphylococcus aureus which was unsatisfactory. Apart from this, poor Teddy also carried mold spores and was considered as highly contaminated.

The problem with soft toys such as Teddy bears is that they are prone to becoming dirty. With rough handling and with the potential of tears, their warm bodies are the ideal breeding ground for germs. These germs may in turn affect a baby’s health. Imagine the first place that a sick child may turn for comfort. That teddy bear may be exposed to all kinds of germs from colds to spilled food remains though he still remains a firm favorite as far as the children are concerned.

The problem with poor Teddy bears is so serious that hospitals are even questioning having Teddy Bears as part of the standard kit of toys available for children who are in their care. The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne has asked people who donate toys not to include Teddy bears for this reason. Many of the children in their care are very sick. A spokesman for the hospitals, Prof. Mark Davies, said that it was dangerous to introduce the Teddy bears into an environment where children’s immune systems were already weak. 

Hospitals in New Zealand are banning the bringing in of toys from home for the same reason since this may introduce a risk into the hospital environment that is thought to be an unnecessary one. Professor Mark Davies also states that these toys could be a contributing factor to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and this is indeed worrying for parents. 

While the United Kingdom hospitals recognize the comfort gleaned by children from Teddy bears, some hospitals now insist that all bears brought into the hospital environment should be newly purchased, in boxes which are sealed so that the risk is lessened. 

Should the bear be worried about being rejected at the hospital door?

A spokeswoman for the Association for the Wellbeing in Healthcare thinks not, although does advise that they should be discouraged in favor of toys which can be cleaned easily. Professor Davies understands a child’s need for the familiar and states that sometimes a child needs that comfort toy to be with them and that their need for Teddy should always be balanced against the risk to the particular child, who may not be immuno compromised. 

So what is the best way forward for parents who know that their child will be in a hospital environment? It’s worth taking the policy of the hospital into account in advance, so that the child can be weaned off their need for Teddy in favor of toys which are acceptable to the hospital. Perhaps even putting Teddy in his own hospital at home may satisfy young minds. If there is a policy in place concerning Teddy or other soft toys, the parent should find out what this policy is as the germs harbored may affect other children on the same ward. 

If in doubt, talk to the hospital about the recommended washing of the Teddy bear in question or the potential purchase of a new boxed and sealed bear to give to the child while they spend time in the strange environment of a hospital. 

As far as germs within the home are concerned, parents should be aware that Teddy may just have “caught” germs from recent illnesses a child may have suffered and make sure that Teddy has his fair share of washing to ensure the health of their children. 

When drying a Teddy bear, it’s extremely important that the bear is thoroughly dried. Unfortunately, with the padding placed inside a bear, it’s not always possible to see just how dry the bear is inside. Dampness inside the bear may cause problems later and parents should ensure that extra drying time is added to take account of this. Mold build up inside the bear will be of no help to the child with breathing difficulties. Dust mites are another health hazard and Boots Chemist in the United Kingdom recommend washing the bear once a week and if this is not possible, placing poor Teddy into a sealed bag the deep freeze to kill off these mites. 

It looks like a bleak future for the Teddy bear, although those bears who are looked after by caring parents may continue to be a child’s favorite toy without risking that child’s health. By looking after the bear, parents can be sure that he does not become a risk to their little darlings and will continue to be a favorite.