Play Areas

A variety of play areas stimulate children’s minds and are fun. However, they are often used by many different children and, as a result, can be a medium to spread pathogens and infections. If you have one of the following play areas, follow the outlined precautions to reduce the spread of infections.

Water play table

  • Do not use water tables during an outbreak of illness, especially diarrhea.
  • Do not allow children with colds, coughs, stomach upsets or skin infections, etc. to use the water play centre.
  • Fill and empty water daily.
  • Wash and disinfect emptied table and allow to air dry for next day’s use.

Sensory bins/tables

Bins are to be constructed of smooth, non-absorbable, easily cleanable materials.

They must be maintained in good repair and free of paint chips, splinters and sharp edges.

It is recommended that bins be fitted with a tight fitting lid so as to prevent the entrances of insects and other unwanted materials while the bin is not in use.

The following list of materials are among those commonly found in sensory bins: popcorn, macaroni, dried lentils, rice, dried leaves, cornmeal, dried corn niblets, etc.

Unacceptable items include non-play sand (i.e., potting soil), items that could be a choking hazard, or items that can support pathogenic growth ( i.e., hot chocolate mix).

Determining the appropriateness of materials is essential in preventing illness and injury.
Appropriateness of materials is based on the potential for bacterial growth, the moisture content, source of materials, possible insect infestation, size of objects and unusual properties of objects.


  • Infants – wash and disinfect daily.
  • Toddlers – wash and disinfect weekly.
  • Preschoolers – wash and sanitize bimonthly or more often if soiled.
  • Any toys observed entering a child’s mouth should be washed and disinfected before going to another child.
  • Any toys visibly dirty or contaminated should be removed, washed and disinfected before use again.
  • Wash stuffed toys in automatic washing machine at least weekly.
  • Avoid bringing mouth toys into the daycare, i.e., blowpipes and musical instruments.
  • Wash dress up clothes weekly. If there is an outbreak of head lice or scabies, wash clothes in hot water or use a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes and store them until outbreak has stopped. Remove stuffed toy until outbreak is over

Outdoor sandboxes

  • When not in use, cover outdoor sandboxes to keep animals and pests out.
  • Check sandboxes for evidence of animal droppings or foreign material. If found, remove droppings and surrounding sand.