Archive for December 4, 2012

How to Disinfect Bathtub Toys

How to Disinfect Tub Toys | @BloomMaternity

How to Disinfect Tub Toys

When getting kids to take a bath is a battle, a few fun toys can make the experience a bit more enjoyable for everyone involved. While your child is getting clean and having a ball, however, her toys can collect mold, bacterial growth or hard water deposits if they’re not draining properly and aren’t periodically cleaned. Rather than tossing the entire lot and replacing them, which can be bad for the environment as well as hard on your pocketbook, you can take advantage of a few tips that will allow you to clean them thoroughly.

Be Careful With Bleach

Household bleach is an effective cleaner, but it’s also a harsh chemical that can be dangerous for children. Your first instinct may be to clean your child’s bath toys with a solution of diluted bleach, but it’s important to note that the concentration of chemicals in commercial bleach products changed in December of 2012. Before the change, most brands contained a 5.25% – 6% solution of sodium hypochlorite. Now, bleach sold under both national brand names and as generic products may contain up to 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. New recommendations for using bleach on children’s toys include choosing only Environmental Protection Agency registered products, carefully following the manufacturer’s dilution instructions, and modifying contact times accordingly.

Vinegar is Your Friend

The same stuff that makes a great salad dressing and has a host of culinary uses is also an effective alternative to harsh chemical cleaners, killing mold and inhibiting bacterial growth. Soaking bath tub toys in a basin containing a solution of two parts hot water to one part white vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes at least once a week, then letting them air dry in the sun or on clean, folded towels near an open window can help them to dry quickly without forming dangerous mold or bacterial growth. As an added bonus, vinegar will not irritate your child’s sensitive skin or expose him to dangerous chemicals.

The Dishwasher: Not Just for Dishes

Tub toys that are made of rubber or plastic can be run through the dishwasher, where high water temperatures and detergents can kill any existing mold or bacteria. If you opt to keep your child’s bath tub toys clean by regularly washing them in the dishwasher, it’s important to keep in mind that proper drainage and thorough drying is still very important. When water collects in hard-to-reach places, bacteria and mold can still flourish.

Keep Bath Tub Toys Out of the Bathroom

It may seem like an unnecessary complication to store your child’s bath tub toys somewhere other than the bathroom, but it can actually help to keep them clean and disinfected. Steam from baths, showers and hot water running in the sink makes the bathroom air moist most of the time, which can promote bacterial growth and mold formation on your child’s newly-cleaned toys. When they’re stored elsewhere and brought in for bath time, they’re not cluttering your bathroom or subjected to constant moisture in the air.

Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

Using an old but clean toothbrush or other small scrub brushes to clean hard-to-reach cracks and crevices with antibacterial dish soap allows you to see any mold that has formed and attack it directly. If toys are particularly gunky, it may be best to start cleaning with this method and then follow up with a soak in vinegar solutions or a trip through the dishwasher cycle. Adding a small amount of tea tree oil to your scrubbing solution can also help, as it’s a natural substance with strong antiseptic qualities. Be sure to thoroughly rinse any toys that you’ve cleaned with a tea tree oil solution, however, as it is not considered safe for ingestion and bath tub toys seem to always end up in kids’ mouths.

Check for Cleaning Products Targeted to Kids

There are some commercially-available products on the market that are designed to clean kids’ toys safely and effectively. If you do choose to go this route, however, be sure that you check the label to ensure that there are no warnings or overly harsh chemicals. Despite “green” names and deceptive packaging, some specialty products are just re-packaged versions of their full-strength, chemical-laden brethren.

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Day 3 — 12 Days of Christmas

Code: ROCK12 Expries Dec. 15, 2013

Code: ROCK12 Expries Dec. 10, 2013 |

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10 Ideas to Save Money on Childcare Without Risking Quality Care

10 Ways to Save Money on Childcare | @BloomMaternity

10 Ways to Save Money on Childcare

Hard economic times have forced many households to make tough financial adjustments, and families in need of childcare services have thus been presented with a daunting challenge: how do you cut expenses while still maintaining a high level of childcare? For those who find themselves in that predicament, there is some good news: there are several ways to cut back on the expense of childcare without sacrificing the quality.

  1. Nanny Share – It’s becoming more common for dual income families to share the services of a single nanny. The cost of her service is also shared, and the nanny alternates care of the kids in one of the families’ homes. This allows both families to maintain the quality of care their kids receive, at half the cost.
  2. Split Shift Care – A family with school-age children can reduce their childcare expenses by paying a nanny to work only the hours that the kids are home from school, giving her the rest of the time off. The family could save 35-40 hours’ worth of salary each week.
  3. Alternative Compensation – A nanny’s salary can be structured so that non-monetary benefits are substituted for financial compensation. In other words, some nannies may be willing to accept less of a wage if their salary package includes a gym membership or some other desirable benefit. Some benefits, like contributions to health insurance premiums, can also save employers money because those contributions are tax-free.
  4. Telecommute – Working parents who have the option should consider working from home when they can. Since education and experience influence a nanny’s salary, opting for a less educated or experienced nanny when you’ll be in the home may reduce your childcare costs.
  5. Flexible Hours – Alternately, some companies offer flex time to their employees, allowing them to work non-traditional hours. This can allow parents to work a schedule that reduces the need for child care. Filling in the gaps with part-time nanny care, rather than having full-time coverage, can cut childcare costs significantly.
  6. Budget – Assign a strict budget to your household expenses and make sure your caregiver adheres to it. Buy food in bulk, use coupons wherever possible, and cut out expensive snacks in favor of much more affordable ones, like celery sticks and peanut butter.
  7. Live-in/Live-out – If you are presently employing a live-out nanny, you may want to re-think your options.  A live-in arrangement might save you some money if you add in the accommodations to your nanny’s compensation at a lower salary.
  8. Reduce Duties – Families whose nannies are doing double duty as cooks or tutors or who have taken on other additional responsibilities may consider working up a new job description and contract. Sticking with essential child care duties could save you a bit in salary.
  9. Referrals – Some nanny placement agencies offer discounts or rebates when families who contract with them provide them with referrals. If you can find some families who need quality affordable child care, send them to your agency. Securing and screening a caregiver on your own can also save you costly fees associated with using a placement agency.
  10. Flex Accounts – Companies frequently offer their employees a flex account that provides the family an annual sum that they can apply toward any health care – or childcare – expenses they incur that aren’t covered under their insurance plans. Take advantage of those dollars and apply them toward paying your nanny.

As with any considerations regarding budget, saving money on childcare is a matter of deciding on priorities and cutting out the non-essentials. With a little imagination and a few adjustments, you may be able to find some much-needed breathing room in your finances a lot more readily than you initially thought.

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