Parents Report Finding “Sophie The Giraffe” Toys Filled With Mold

Image courtesy of Amazon/Stephanie Oprea

Except for certain cheeses, you wouldn’t sit around and gnaw on something full of mold, and you wouldn’t want your child to do so, either. That’s why parents were horrified to see photos online of familiar Sophie the Giraffe toys full of mold. Mold!

If you don’t immediately recognize Sophie, it may be because you don’t hang out with parents of young children or attend baby showers: she’s the celebrity-approved $25 rubber teething giraffe that babies love as a chew toy, which has been popular in this country for the last decade or so.

Sophie is a squeaky rubber toy, which is so pricey because, the marketers tell us, she’s made in France from natural rubber and painted with food-grade pigments. What people don’t realize until they have a reason to cut the toy open is that mold can accumulate inside.

Over the weekend, parents reacted with horror to photos of a mold-filled Sophie. “If you have a drooly baby, moisture will get in the hole and you’ll end up with mold!” one parent warned other prospective Sophie buyers in an Amazon review. “We’ve had ours for two years and the entire inside is coated with black mold!”

Care.com spoke to a pediatrician about the problem during an earlier scare over mold-filled sippy cups, and she explained that it is probably not an issue unless your child has an immune disorder or an allergy specifically to mold.

The company that makes Sophie, Vulli, sent a response to Good Housekeeping when they asked about the issue, emphasizing that parents should follow the cleaning instructions exactly.

Those instructions directly contradict the recommendations of an expert at the Good Housekeeping Cleaning Institute, who recommends washing plastic toys in hot, soapy water or the dishwasher and soaking them in a bleach solution to sanitize. The manufacturer tells parents to clean the product with a cloth, and not to immerse it in water: that’s allegedly how mold gets inside.

The important thing is that if you have a problem with your Sophie, let the company know, because their teether detectives will check it out.

The brand told Good Housekeeping:

We thus would like to emphasize on the fact that is it important, while cleaning the product, that no water gets inside the hole. As of now, we have not been contacted by [the parents who have shared their stories online] and were not aware of the situation before reading your article.

It is thus difficult for us to comment on the current situation, as we haven’t had the chance to examine the products. Please know that each complaint received is taken very seriously and that the return of the product is always asked for further examination.

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