Soft Toys and Allergies in Children

While children can be born with various allergies, some develop later in life. One such example is a dust mite allergy, which may appear during childhood or the teenage years. Living with a child who has this type of allergy is very challenging, and parents often think that dust-gathering toys, particularly stuffed animals, have to be eliminated.

For infants and young toddlers, this might not be much of an ordeal, but how do parents manage to keep stuffed animals in an older child’s room, especially when they are attached to a particular one? A lot of kids become fond of a favorite bear or animal, making it a difficult transition from regular play to dust-free play.

Dust Free

To keep a child’s bedroom as free from dust as possible, bed linens and other items known for collecting dust, like stuffed animals, need to be washed regularly. They should always be washed in hot water; if this is not possible, a dryer can be used to eliminate any stubborn dust mites that remain.

There are specifically-designed solutions that can be added to washing water to kill dust mites. Some experts are hesitant to prescribe such mixtures, since the effects of some additives are questionable. However, there are organic solutions on the market, which help to eliminate even more dust mites than washing alone. Despite the washing method used, stuffed animals should be washed weekly, or bi-weekly at most.

Another way to kill dust mites is by placing stuffed animals in the freezer. Wrapped in a bag, about forty-eight hours in an extremely cold environment will prevent dust mites from being able to survive. In order to flourish and multiply, mites require an ideal temperature, explaining why strong heat or coldness produces an inhabitable environment. In fact, even a few hours’ worth of hot sun exposure will kill dust mites.

When purchasing stuffed animals for a child with a dust mite allergy, select small items that are washable and, preferably, dryer-friendly. If your child is drawn to a larger stuffed animal, be sure it will fit in the washer, dryer, or freezer (when using the freezer, remember that larger animals will need more time to reach a frigid temperature than smaller ones).

Taking control of a dust mite allergy requires some awareness, creativity, and additional housework, but being able to keep your child’s treasured toys is well worth the struggle. The good news is, a dust mite allergy does not have to control your family’s lives. With all the changes going on within the house to alleviate the dust mite count, your child will appreciate sharing the journey with his or her favorite stuffed friend.