Why, oh why, do pediatrician’s offices have germy toys in the waiting rooms?


Becky Vieira

posted in Parenting

My child sees his pediatrician for one of two reasons: he’s either sick or it’s a well exam. If he’s sick I don’t want to spread his germs to others. And if he’s well I don’t want him to get sick. Which is why I detest the germ-ridden toys in the waiting room.

I can’t fathom why they’re there. We’re talking about doctors. Actual medical doctors who know about germs and how they’re spread. Like on toys.

It seems like common sense to me. But common sense isn’t always common. Which is the only reason I can think of why a pediatrician’s office would have toys in the waiting room.

It was easy to keep my son away from the virus-carrying tempters before he could walk. I’d simply hold him on my lap as we waited. We’d look out the window or I’d point out a shiny object to distract him. Now that he’s mobile it’s a different experience. He wants those toys. Badly. Last week I had to hold him back while he screamed in a most dramatic fashion.

Toddler plays with toys in doctor's waiting room

I can’t relax; my mind races with questions. How often do they clean it, I wonder. And with what. Chemicals? Water and paper towels? If so, would water alone kill the germs? But I don’t want him exposed to chemicals. And…and…I can’t stop worrying.

Have you ever been in a public restroom where there’s a visible schedule for bathroom cleanings? Every hour someone has to initial the sheet of paper after they clean it. I wish it was like that in the pediatrician’s office.

“Well, son, it’s now 12:17 and it looks like this toy in the waiting room was freshly sanitized at 12:15. You’re good to play, have fun!” Or the opposite. “Sorry honey, it’s 2:42 and while it was scheduled to be cleaned at 2:30 it looks like the last two cleanings were skipped. You’ll have to scream incessantly until they call us for your appointment.”

Either way I’m fine. Just give me all the information so I can make my own decision.

My pediatrician does offer two separate waiting area, a “sick” and “well baby” section. But until that well baby section offers a doorman checking IDs and confirming that all entrants are indeed healthy, I’m not comforted. I’ve seen kids sneezing in there. Nowhere is safe.

sign in pediatrician's waiting room

I even put out an SOS for advice on my Instagram page. There had to be a way to keep my son away from the waiting room toys while also avoiding a toddler meltdown. Suggestions from other moms included:
1. Bring toys from home
2. Keep my son in his stroller (sadly that’s not an option for us, thanks to the giant “no strollers allowed in waiting room” sign that adorns the front door of our pediatrician’s office)
3. Make my own non-toxic cleaning solution and bring it with me
4. Have my son wear gloves

At this point I’ll try anything short of finding a new pediatrician (we love ours). On that note, does anyone know where I can purchase toddler-sized rubber gloves?

For more mom moments, follow me on Instagram at Witty Otter.

Does your pediatrician have toys in the waiting room? How do you handle the situation?

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Images by Becky Vieira

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