Sophie La Girafe holds a special place in my heart. I know you are judging me for saying such a thing about a child’s teething toy – I get it, believe me. But honestly, she does. My daughter has loved her Sophie from about the time she could finally grasp onto something. Sophie went everywhere with us – the beach, the park, the library. My daughter’s love for her Sophie was so obvious that friends and family bought her other Sophie items including a bath toy, a teether, and five Sophie-themed books. The pinnacle of the adoration for Sophie came at her first birthday party, when the Paris theme was inspired by her French best friend.
A few weeks ago, I started noticing Sophie popping up quite a bit on my social media timelines, and not in a pleasant state. There she was – smiling face, adorable spots – sliced into pieces! Some Sophies’ I saw were cut down the middle, others had been decapitated. What was going on? Why was there Sophie carnage all over my Facebook page?
After a quick Google search, I learned that there had recently been an article posted in Good Housekeeping about a pediatric dentist discovering mold inside of her child’s Sophie. The post went viral, unleashing a fear in parents all over the world that their Sophie toys could make their children sick.
At first I thought the exact same thing, and my response was emotional. How dare a company sell us a toy that could become so disgusting inside that it would grow mold! Yet as time passed, I started to think more clearly about what had happened. It appeared that the mold began to grow in these Sophie’s because of the copious amounts of drool created in a teething babies mouth, which would then leak into the body through a small hole, but studies have shown that this theory is not accurate. Even still, parents were doing the finger-pointing (myself included) at the manufacturer, and not personally taking any responsibility for the mold-infested Sophie themselves.
Many of us seemed to forget that there were other ways that Sophie could have become wet, and therefore moldy. Was it possible that some of these had been submerged while cleaning? Of course. Was is likely that a child took their Sophie for a dip in the tub one evening? Definitely. Still, should the manufacturer have included a note that due to the hole in the squeaker, it was possible that this could happen to Sophie? Sure. But we cannot forget that the toys our children have access to are in our control. We put them on our registries and we buy them ourselves, and hopefully under extreme scrutiny. After they are removed from their packaging, it is up to us to take care of them properly.
Since there are millions of babies still clutching onto one of their favorite toys, here are a few tips to keep your Sophie (and your child) in excellent shape:
Follow the cleaning instructions.
The instructions for how to clean Sophie are included in the packaging, but can also be found on the website. They are short and sweet. Wipe Sophie off with a damp cloth and soapy water. The end.
Do not submerge Sophie in water.
While we are accustomed to boiling and dish washing nearly everything that is put into our babies mouths, we cannot do that with Sophie. If you are concerned that you will not be able to properly sterilize Sophie, this option may be better for you and your baby.
Use common sense.
This point refers to any toys that we have laying around. The winter sled does not come with a warning that says, “Beware: riding this sled down the jungle gym slide may result in a broken collarbone,” but what guess what? It probably will! It is nearly impossible for manufacturers to list out every injury or complication that could result from using a product. Many times, it is on us to inspect these items, and to listen to our gut when it comes to proper use. So if a toy with a hole in it gets wet, it’s fairly reasonable for us to expect that the insides may end up moldy. We learned this in middle school science. Just because the instructions don’t list this as a possibility does not mean this fact no longer exists.
I understand that as parents, we are tasked with countless roles and responsibilities. Our to-do lists are endless, and we often are forced to function on little or no sleep. Even with a million other things to worry about, we are the ones who are responsible for our children’s safety and well-being. And given all the external factors, we do the best that we can. That is what our kids expect from us, and all that we can expect from ourselves. While finding something like mold in a toy is certainly shocking, our children will be exposed to allergens like this all their lives. As long as your child is healthy, there is no cause for immediate concern.
Before you slice into your Sophie, please remember that she has been there for us through bouts of teething, stomach bugs, and never ending nights. As our children grow up, they will find themselves in far riskier situations than a rubber giraffe could ever create.
So, keep calm and keep Sophie intact.