By: Em Cruz
There are tons of advantages in visiting popular indoor play places found in malls with our kids, including letting them have some much-needed physical play and activity, socialization with other kids, and even give us moms some much-needed breather from home life.
However, indoor playgrounds may also come with their own health risks. Posts from moms whose kids’ have fallen ill after playing are circulating online. So does this mean that we have to stop visiting such play places altogether? Not necessarily, but we might have to take certain precautions just to be on the safe side.
Here are some tips on how you can keep your kids safe and happy while playing in public indoor playgrounds:
Be a germ freak.
Considering the number of kids that play in these playhouses, it’s no wonder that germs, viruses, and bacteria are everywhere. So if your child’s immune system is particularly weak at the time, then he might be more at risk to fall ill. You can somehow minimize this risk by ensuring that your child’s hands are properly sanitized after playing. You can use wet wipes or alcohol every few minutes and ensure that he washes his hands properly with soap and water after your play place session. You can also wipe down any tables and toys that might seem dirty.
Be wary of your child’s immediate surroundings.
In the social media posts, parents have recounted seeing dirt or even poop in certain areas of the play place. So it’s best to pay attention to your child’s immediate surroundings for any err questionable substances. And if you do find one, then it’s best to stay away and play another day.
Go in prepared.
Ensure that you have everything you need: bring wet wipes, alcohol, snacks, and even extra diapers, clothes, and socks. Kids can get distracted while playing, so accidents are bound to happen. The best way to handle accidents is to bring everything you need to properly clean up — which includes wet wipes, extra clothes, and even soap. Also, ensure that your child has socks on at all times — aside from this is a requirement in most play places, it’s also good hygiene. If necessary, you can also bring extra socks that your child will change into after playing so that his shoes would not get dirty as well. After playing, always, always let your child have hand sanitizer or alcohol for his hands. And if possible, visit a comfort room ASAP to let him wash his hands with soap and water as well.
Play good, play safe.
While the maintenance of such indoor play places is the management’s responsibility, us parents can also help out in making such places a safe and happy haven for our kids and others as well. Here are a few simple ways to do so:
- Ensure that your child is properly dressed to play. This includes wearing properly fitting clothes and diapers. Doing so will somehow minimize accidents brought about by tripping from loose pants and even potty incidents that can result from loose-fitting diapers.
- Teach your child to keep his hands away from his mouth and face while playing in public. Doing so might minimize the transfer and spread of germs and viruses. If your child is too small to understand and follow your reminder, then it might be a good idea to be his wingman and wipe his hands before and after he puts it in his mouth or face. This might also minimize him from getting sick afterward.
- Always ask your child if he needs to go potty. If your child is somewhat potty-trained or is on his way there, then ask him every 15 minutes or so if he needs to go potty. As mentioned, kids can get distracted while playing and might forget or even hold it in. So to prevent any unwanted incidents, be vigilant.
- Be polite to other kids and parents. At the same time, always remind your child as well to be on their best behavior — share toys, play nice with all kids, and generally be polite to both kids and adults alike. The same goes for you. If you notice that your kid is beginning to play rough or is getting cranky, then it’s up to you to intervene, say sorry to any child he might’ve inadvertently hurt, and finally…
- Know when it is time to pack up. Indoor play places typically have a minimum number of hours, but your primary consideration should be not the money you’ve paid or the number of minutes left, instead, it should be your child’s mood. If your child is starting to get cranky or fussy, then it’s best to just pack up and leave. There’s no point in staying any further if your child is no longer enjoying and his bad mood might also affect how he interacts with others.
It also goes without saying that if your child is feeling under the weather, then it’s best to postpone your playdate to another time. If your child is dealing with a cold or has a slight cough, then chances are his immune system is also compromised so he might be prone to get sick. At the same time, you might also be putting other kids at risk by exposing them to possible viruses or germs.
Ultimately, the safety of such play places is also partly our responsibility, as parents. So play good, play safe, and have fun.
Em is MomCenter’s editor and a doting mom to a decisive yet sweet daughter. When she doesn’t have her hands full of motherhood, she moonlights as a geek and bibliophile. Follow her mom-adventures via her Instagram.