How do you spend a lazy afternoon with your toddlers? Is playing in a sandbox part of your plan? Most parents provide their toddlers with an enticing sandbox and a couple of beach toys including shovel and bucket and even loaders and toy trucks. The fun that sandbox brings seems to never end for these kids, and even if the sand can hurt their eyes, you let them play in alone since it’s probably the easiest and the most convenient way to let them stay still for a couple of minutes. But did you know that this idea isn’t a commendable one? Here’s why.
A stretch of sand at the beach can mean broken glass pieces, cigarette butts, and other possible stuffs thrown at the beach. However, this scenario might be different from the typical sandbox that we get in a super mart. First of all, man-made sandboxes often contain filthy components, chemical residues, pesticides, exhausts, and even insects among others. In fact, sandboxes may even contain eggs of roundworms. Though it sounds as awful as it may seem, some parents allow their kids to bury their feet and their little fingers into the box as they playfully and seriously start putting sand into their shovel. Secondly, kids don’t recognize the dirt that’s present in the sandbox, so they don’t really mind putting their fingers into their mouths in between games. Thirdly, let’s not forget that the Health Research Group denounced twenty years ago that sandboxes are positive with the tremolite, carcinogen asbestos. Although the claim triggered negative reactions from main clients, who are parents, concerned industries did not make any action, stating that their products are all-safe and scrutinized. Also, reports circulated that diseases caused by asbestos are dependent on one’s exposure to it. For instance, workers in the stone industry are the ones more exposed to it, so they should be the one fearing for this cancer-causing material, and not those kids who merely play in the box for a couple of minutes or so. In this aspect, the Consumer Product Safety Commission did not abolish the product in the market, and still currently being sold worldwide.
If sand isn’t hazardous, they why do you see warning labels in a sand bag sold in department stores? Experts found that sand contains crystalline silica, in which they note as a potent human carcinogen, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees on this statement. Aside from that, most pediatricians agree to the fact that sandboxes aren’t the best playgrounds there is. Apart from that, sandboxes attract crawlers like roaches, rodents, and even snakes! Although we haven’t heard of a child being attacked by a snake while playing in her sandbox, these thoughts are enough to keep them away from sandboxes. Medical practitioners also note that critters usually leave poop and urine remnants in the sandbox, which can expose the kids to E. coli bacteria. In some places, raccoons may also think sandbox as their haven and may leave urine and fecal matter in the area, leaving raccoon roundworms, too. These roundworms can cause ocular and visceral migraines, which can be pretty dangerous to toddlers.
So, what’s the best thing to do when our kids scream for sandboxes? Here are some alternatives to playing in sandboxes: Consider using dried lentils or colored rice instead of sand. Personally, colored rice is way more fun to play with than dried lentils. Plus, you could also teach the child about colors sans the fear of them contacting E. coli bacteria. These are safer and cleaner alternatives to sand. Aside from that, they’re less messy compared to sand, but be sure to provide them with scoops, shovels, etc. However, if the child really loves to dig into sand, choose a shallow container. Do not use a big container that the child can get into. Make sure to opt for a container that has a cover, too. It is always necessary to cover sandboxes especially at night when animals and pests could get into the box. Another alternative is a sand water table, which is fun, yet safe enough to play with. There are also some sand water tables that have a division and another game set in other divisions, which is a great way to diver the child’s attention from playing solely with the sand water. You could also choose safer and child-friendly sands at select stores. Safe Sand Company, Kid Safe Sand, and Oregon Decorative Rock are ideal stores to check out.
There are also other ways to keep the child at bay from sandboxes by not buying one. When they have the urge to dig up, you can put legos in a bucket and let them dig with it. You can also introduce them to other educational games that don’t necessarily need digging like drawing and coloring. It is far easier to keep them away from something that they don’t see and reach.