Stuffed Animals, Dust Mites, and the Process
I know I need to start washing DSâs stuffed animals, especially the ones he sleeps with. I searched your site for âstuffed animalsâ to see if you had already done up a post about how to do this, but I didnât find it. Is there a link youâd recommend, or could I persuade you to put this somewhere as a âhow-toâ?I know it seems like something I should just figure out on my own – but I havenât done it for the past few months because it seems just that extra bit difficult. I think they need to go in the freezer, is that before or after washing? –Andie
The stuffed animal problem kind of embodies all the frustration and confusion of raising a child with asthma. You’ve got this enduring symbol of childhood, the teddy bear, and then an asthma diagnosis suddenly turns it into a complication. An issue. And you discover there’s this whole washing/drying/freezing process you have to follow.
Because stuffed animals are like petri dishes inside, their stuffing spawning the dust mites that will trigger asthma flares at night like nothing else. I’m sure there’s an asthma patient out there somewhere who doesn’t react to dust mites with nocturnal symptoms, but I’ve never met one. AG had horrible coughing spells in her sleep until we covered her mattress and pillow, but you can’t throw one of those hypoallergenic covers over a stuffed dog.
Hence, the process.
1. Limit Them
Can you have a child without stuffed animals? Probably, but it’s not likely. Someone, somewhere will buy one for Christmas after you beg them not to, and that one will inevitably become the favorite, the one you can’t exchange because your kid keeps the death grip on it at night and you really value your sleep. So forget about a stuffed-free childhood–just go easy on the number you allow. See the photo above? That’s the stuffed toy tub in my house. Clearly, I’ve let things get out of hand.
2. Wash and Dry Them
For the stuffed animals you do keep around, wash and dry them at least once a month. I throw the girls’ in a pillowcase first, too, to cut down on the wear-and-tear of frequent washing.
3. Then Freeze Them
After they dry, stick them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Some websites recommend for as long as 24 hours, and AG’s previous doctor recommended overnight. I compromise by freezing them for 24 hours once a month but also sticking them in the freezer overnight once a week as a kind of backup. My girls slept with security blankets rather than teddy bears, but if your kid cannot sleep without the beloved stuffed hippo (see: death grip) and 24 hours is therefore out of the question, I imagine you could pop it in the morning and take it out by bedtime.
Finally, you can check out the stuffed animal page at the AAFA Asthma & Allergy Certification Program. It lists toys with stuffings not “known to aggravate asthma.”
Thanks for the suggestion for this post, Andie.