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8 Ways to manage sticky toddler messes

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Little bodies, big messes

I've asked myself countless times, "How can something so small make such a big mess?" Any mom can testify that toddlers can be something of a tornado. But managing their messes, and even preventing some, is within reach.

Messy toddler covered in paint | Sheknows.com

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1

Set the stage

Toddler feeding time is one of the major mess makers in any home. But with a little prep, you can eliminate some of the mess and make cleanup a breeze. First and foremost, purchase a high chair with a plastic/washable pad. The kind that simply wipes clean is my preference. It's also a good idea to line the floor around Baby's high chair with a large plastic garbage bag or a layer of newspapers that you can simply gather up and pitch in the trash after Baby is done tossing the contents of his plate overboard.

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2

Toys, toys and more toys

Make a habit of cleaning your toddler's plastic and cloth toys on a regular basis. You can easily wash plastic toys by dumping the whole lot of them in a big tub of warm water mixed with bleach, letting them soak and then rinsing and drying them. For special stuffed animals, wipe clean often or toss them into the washing machine on the gentle cycle. Take care when drying as some may shrink — causing a toddler tantrum of epic proportions.

3

Overcome marker madness

What? Your toddler has never taken the chance to totally cover himself from head to toe in marker masterpieces? Consider yourself lucky. For those moms who know exactly what I'm talking about, tackle those tough-to-remove marker stains or even temporary tattoos by soaking a cotton ball in baby oil, baby lotion or Vaseline and gently rubbing on your toddler's skin. Then wash with soap and warm water and pat dry. Good to know, right?

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4

Make friends with a disinfectant

Preventing a mess can be half the battle when it comes to motherhood. You know as well as the next mom that toddlers seem to love putting things in their mouths that have been sitting on the table, the kitchen counter or the tub. To avoid having germs come in contact with your toddler, clean nonporous surfaces with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, which kill 99 percent of germs that can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, including viruses and bacteria like Staph, E. coli, Salmonella and strep. They're are also great for wiping messes after mealtime and other sticky situations, too.

5

Get good at food stain removal

After a meal, always remove your child's stained shirts and rinse them in cold — not warm — water to prevent food stains from literally getting "cooked" into the clothing, making them really hard to remove. To avoid stains all together, strip your toddler down and let him lunch in his skivvies. But remember, eating in your undies is only cute if you're under the age of 5. OK, 6.

6

Bring backup

Once again, those toddler hands tend to go from touching other kids and dirty playground equipment directly into their little mouths, so keeping their hands clean is a never-ending, yet ever-important, feat. As a mom of two young kids, I still never leave the house without a pack of baby wipes or antibacterial hand/face wipes tucked into my purse. At the very least, they are great after a trip to the ice cream shop for a totally messy — and totally worth it — treat.

7

Limit messes where you can

If you hand over a pile of spaghetti (complete with sauce) and some sliced bananas, you're pretty much guaranteeing yourself an afternoon of major cleaning. When he's learning to feed himself with a fork or spoon, give him "mess-free" finger foods like dry cereal or sauce-free spaghetti. Save the really messy stuff for when you have time to airplane the food directly into his mouth.

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8

Succumb to the sticky

Moms, we don't have to tell you that parenthood is messy business. Sometimes it's not worth trying to fight the inevitable mess. So we suggest you learn to embrace it. Let the kids jump in the muddy puddles, get spaghetti sauce in every orifice and paint their whole bodies blue with finger paint... just remain on standby with our clean-up guide.

This post was sponsored by Clorox.

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