Concerned parents have reported mold inside the Sophie the Giraffe teething toy for years, but the story recently gained widespread attention after pediatric dentist Dana Chianese shared photos of the mold with Good Housekeeping.
About a month ago, Chianese was cleaning the toy when she noticed the air coming out of the hole in Sophie smelled musty.
“I decided to cut into Sophie out of curiosity and discovered a science experiment living inside,” Chianese told Goodhousekeeping.com. “Smelly, ugly mold living in my infant’s favorite chew toy!”
The toy, made by French company Vulli, is made of 100 percent natural rubber and comes with a warning not to submerge Sophie the Giraffe in water. Vulli recommends cleaning it with a damp cloth and soapy water without getting any liquid in the hole.
But Chianese and other parents who noticed mold say they followed the instructions and still ended up mold in the toy.
“I spot cleaned Sophie following the directions,” said Stephanie Oprea in a Jan. 17 update to her 2016 Amazon review that’s also been getting more attention. “She never went in the tub, dishwasher or a boiling pot of water as all of those methods would’ve obviously gotten more water in the hole. This mold growth was due to excessively drooly babies using it for over two years for it’s intended purpose- a teething toy.”
Sophie the Giraffe has become a trendy teething toy for babies and toddlers over the years with photos of celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Kate Hudson showing their kids with it. But parents have become wary about giving it to their children.
“I, like many, bought into the whole Sophie Giraffe craze. I had read a story about her legs getting caught in the throats of some babies recently, and it scared me a bit, since my daughter LOVES chewing on the legs,” wrote one mother on the What to Expect site in August. “Well, when we chopped the legs, it revealed a lot of mold growing inside!! Needless to say, Sophie is now residing at her new home at the dump.”
Is the Mold Actually Dangerous?
While the thought of small children chewing on toys with mold inside might scare parents, it may not be something to be too alarmed about. A child is unlikely to get sick unless he or she has a compromised immune system, according to some doctors.
“[Parents] don’t need to be worried in the sense that their child’s health may be harmed by ordinary quantities of mold in the environment,” said Dr. Paul Williams of Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center to Babble. “There are thousands of mold spores in the air that we breathe every day. So, in a lot of ways, molds are just a part of our everyday environment and our system handles it quite nicely.”
Still, parents are not happy with the idea of mold growing inside a toy their children chew on and have been wondering whether Vulli will offer a refund or recall the toy.
What Do the Manufacturers Say?
Recalls for child products susceptible to mold are not unusual. In May 2016, Tommee Tippee sippy cups were voluntarily recalled after the company received more than 3,000 reports of mold inside the cups. Roughly 3.1 million products were recalled.
Vulli has yet to say whether refunds will be offered, but a spokesperson did get back to Good Housekeeping about the reports. Along with emphasizing the importance of following the correct cleaning instructions, the spokesperson said the company complies with the most stringent global standards.
“Please know that each complaint received is taken very seriously and that the return of the product is always asked for further examination,” the spokesperson told Good Housekeeping. “Furthermore, please know that the safety of children and satisfaction of their parents is our main priority.”