Educational toys

Educational toys
The Creativity Institute for Creative Toys

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ball Pools: The Pits and the Perks

Kids love ball pits. They can become a wonderful fantasyland, these deep pools of three-inch pressurized balls…where children can cull their creativity to imagine they are floating and diving and flying through everything from super molecules to giant candy.

But the ball pit may be the last place you want to think about food, because there could be a lot lurking in there besides balls. Dr. Erin Carr-Jordan, an Arizona State University professor took some swabs at a number of play center ball pits (1) and found bacteria that would make you rush your kids to the doctor for an inoculation, if not quarantine.
Based on her studies, she determined “playlands are packed with bacteria like Staphlococcus Aureus, Acidominococcus, fungus, and mold which can result in skin infections, food poisoning, STDs -- or worse.” (2)

Currently, no state or federal laws regulate cleanliness at establishments that have indoor play lands.(3) And, based on the study, “most places either do not have proper corporate cleaning and maintenance protocols or they are not being enforced.”(3) So, as parents and grandparents, we have a lot to consider when our kids are chomping at the bit to jump in the pit.

While we can’t offer solutions, we do have options. There are school- and home-size versions of these ball pools that give caregivers control over the cleaning of them as often as they feel necessary. Washing machines on cold settings do the trick. (The balls are pressure-sealed, so heat can cause them to get misshapen or pop.) Children’s Factory and Wesco have a wide range of sizes to fit different budgets, space requirements and capacity (i.e., the number of kids and/or balls that will fit inside one). And whether the ball pit is at your home or elsewhere, playing in it is still as much about interaction as it is about imagination.

So, whether your little one likes to pretend he’s a seal arching through a colorful sea or a rocket ship dodging meteors, if he’s like most kids, he can’t resist ball pools. Deciding whether to let your precious cargo play in public ball pits is a personal decision. One way or the other, consider getting a personal ball pit you can control…

…and always carry hand sanitizer.

Chief Imagination Officer



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