Nursery Safety: How To Clean A Baby's Playpen

Keeping your baby in a clean playpen is important to avoid germs that cause illness and remove substances that can lead to choking.

A baby's playpen is perhaps just as important as the crib in terms of cleanliness, since an infant may spend hours each day playing or sleeping in this strategic device. Obviously you should wipe up spills or messes right away.

But it is vital to keep the playpen clean, orderly, and sanitized on a regular basis. Failure to do so may lead to bacterial build-up or the possibility of an infant's choking on a bit of dust or debris. Invest in a mild detergent that is compatible with your playpen materials, some clean scrubbing cloths, and hand gloves if your skin is sensitive.

Place the baby in a safe place while you take care of this chore. An infant swing or the crib should work well, depending on the child's age. Then remove all toys, blankets, and bottles or anything else that is in the playpen. Look for objects that may have become stuck under the mat, in a crevice, or between the slats as well as underneath the playpen. You don't want the baby to find these before you do.



Unsnap or otherwise remove the mat that lines the bottom of the playpen, along with side mats or cushions that are mounted to protect the child. If these are washable, throw them in the laundry for a quick run-through, using hot water to kill germs and infant-friendly detergent that will not excite any latent or pre-existing allergies. If they are not washable, use a clean wash cloth and a bucket of soapy water to wipe them clean, front and back. Then rinse the cloth in warm water and wipe away all soapy residue. You may need to do this twice, depending on the material of which the padding is made.

Get another bucket of warm, soapy water, using infant-friendly detergent. Do not add bleach, ammonia, or other household chemicals. Dip your cloth and wipe down the bottom, underside, slats or netting, and other framework of the playpen. Look for missing screws or weak bolts while as you work. Give extra attention to formula or juice spills or areas where the baby has spit up, removing all traces of these substances to avoid attracting insects or germs.

Allow the playpen to air dry. Or you can use an old, clean towel and wipe it dry of moisture. Make sure the pads are completely dry before replacing them in the pen. You may want to air them outdoors if possible, checking for bird visits before bringing them inside.

Make sure you do not put heavy pillows or blankets inside the playpen. Avoid the use of toys with small parts that may come off and pose a choking hazard. Fuzzy blankets or stuffed animals should be avoided as well, since the baby may chew on these and choke on loose threads.

When your child returns to the clean play area, both of you will enjoy the fresh smell and clean environment.

Change your cloth or rinse it thoroughly and remove the soapy residue.

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