Are Public Ball Pits Safe For Children?
We found a really interesting article on the NHS asking if children's ball pits are 'riddled with killer germs'? after sensational articles from the Sun and the Mail Online.
The Sun and Mail Online reported that "ball pits could contain life-threatening germs because they can go weeks without being cleaned, research has warned" and "nine germs that can have disastrous outcomes, including septicaemia, meningitis and pneumonia, were identified in a study."
Which prompted some concerned comments from their readers:
"Weeks. LOL. more like never cleaned."
"When my kids starting going to these places they would always end up sick within days. Their immune systems are stronger now, but I avoided the place for years, absolute cesspit of disease."
"Years ago when my children were young, I took them to a ball park. I discovered, after lifting up those big pvc cushions...there was dirt, socks, food wrappers underneath !!! I complained to the local council about the filth....they investigated and the report came back as "ok"....it was filth and we never did go back"
The NHS took a measured response to the investigation, concluding that the study that the Mail Online and the Sun were referencing only sampled 6 public ball pits in Georgia (USA), so it's unclear if the results are relevant to the UK.
They added that people, especially children, are covered in micro-organism, so it would be normal to find bacteria in ball pits, where lots of children play together in a public environment. Mostly this would be harmless bacteria. But they end saying "if your child is using a ball pit at a clinic run by the NHS, you might ask staff how often the pit gets cleaned. The small risk of infection needs to be set against the potential benefit and pleasure that children get from using these play areas."
If your child is vulnerable to illness then maybe stay clear of big public ball pits. Although most of the bacteria found is harmless, when lots of children (that you don't know) play together they all share their germs. Plus the mix of ages means smaller children do risk being accidentally bumped or hurt by the bigger kids.
Tweepsy Foam Ball Pits
A foam ball pit is great way for kids to get that soft play experience at home. Tweepsy ball pits have a removeable and washable cover, so they can be easily cleaned. They're also suitable for children from six months old. Best of all you, you don't have to travel to a soft play centre and little ones are easy to supervise while you get on with jobs.