Earlier this week Good Housekeeping.com published a story about a mother and pediatric dentist who reported that she found mold inside her son’s Sophie the Giraffe teething toy. For those of you unfamiliar with Sophie, she is an adorable little giraffe made of natural rubber and manufactured in France. At first glance, she may appear to be an overpriced dog toy, but she is so much more. Babies everywhere fall in love with Sophie’s texture, smell and shape, which makes her a baby registry necessity.
The article stated that Dana Chianese cut open her son’s Sophie and found it infested with black mold. Dr. Chianese is now sharing her story so other parents can be aware. Sounds scary, right? Let’s not panic.
Stories like this are not new. There have been numerous reports of mold found inside rubber toys previously. Here’s the thing, guys. If you let moisture sit in an enclosed rubber environment for an extended amount of time, it will get moldy. It’s science. No, really…it is actual science.
Sophie the Giraffe comes with specific care instructions. According to the Sophie website, “The best way to clean the surface of Sophie la giraffe is with a damp cloth and soapy water, which is also stated on the product packaging. We do not recommend immersing her with water as she may become damaged.” According to the Good Housekeeping article, Dr. Chianese states that she did follow these instructions but found mold anyway.
My daughter received two Sophies as gifts when she was a baby. As I am a germaphobe and a stickler for following rules, I made sure that no water got inside Sophie during cleaning as per the instructions. I made a point to put one of my fingers over the squeaker opening as I used a soapy sponge to wash her surface at all times. Sometimes a miniscule amount of water touched the opening causing the squeaker to sound a bit funny until it dried out, but Sophie was never submerged and water was never poured directly onto the hole.
When my daughter outgrew her beloved Sophies, we packed them away to save in case they were ever needed again by another bundle of joy. Five years later when my son was born in September 2015, we dug them out of the attic along with all the other forgotten baby toys.
My son is now 16 months old. He never took to Sophie like my daughter did, so she has not been played with in a while. Therefore this left me with two, now 6-year-old, adorable giraffe toys with which to conduct my own research. I will call them Sophie A and Sophie B.
Because of my diligent cleaning practices, I felt confident that I would not find mold inside my Sophies. However, for a split second I felt a twinge of doubt about what I would see when I opened them. I reached for the scissors anyway.
I cut into the first unsuspecting toy (which is not easy to do, by the way). When the incision was made, I folded Sophie A open. There it was – NOTHING. Phew! I felt better already.
Worrying that maybe Sophie A’s clean bill of health was a fluke, I proceeded to check Sophie B. Again as I struggled to cut the rubber teether toy open, I wondered if I would possibly find something undesirable inside. Slowly, I pulled Sophie B’s two halves apart and again – NOTHING. Both Sophies are spotless!
Now, I am not saying that mold never happens. As I stated earlier, it is known that mold can form inside rubber toys given the right conditions. I can only speak about my own experience with Sophie. While some of these toys may have developed mold, it is not necessarily the norm as evidenced here. If you keep her insides dry and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, she should be OK.
I will continue to love Sophie as I did before and will continue to buy her for my expecting mommy friends, if requested. I will just make sure to remind them to follow her cleaning instructions.
Now after all is said and done, I just feel bad about doubting Sophie in the first place and about destroying two perfectly good (expensive) toys.