IF you've had a baby recently, chances are Sophie the Giraffe has already arrived in your life.
The leggy lady has been around since 1961 when she was first made in France, but it was the last decade that saw her shoot to international fame and become the must-have baby shower gift. With a pleasing shape that's perfect for gnawing, parents feel secure knowing that the natural rubber toy is free of nasties.
But what's lurking beneath the surface?
Sophie's instructions say you should clean the toy by wiping it down with a damp cloth, and not submerging it in water, but some parents have found that that is not enough to prevent moisture causing problems.
This week, paediatric dentist, Dana Chianese contacted Goodhouskeeping.com to share an unpleasant discovery. The mother to two young boys had noticed a musty smell coming from the teething toy and investigated further
"I decided to cut into Sophie out of curiosity and discovered a science experiment living inside," Chianese told the website
"Smelly, ugly mould living in my infant's favourite chew toy!"
A cursory glance around the web reveals that Dana isn't the only one who has found Sophie's secret.
Amazon user Stephanie Oprea also did some dissecting and wasn't pleased with what she saw.
"Beware!! If you have a drooly baby, moisture will get in the hole and you'll end up with mould! We've had ours for two years and the entire inside is coated with black mould!"
Other users have taken to parenting sites like What to Expect to voice their anger with the product.
The response is reminiscent of the Tommee Tippee controversy last year when parents discovered mould hidden inside the drinking cup valves.
There's no doubt that it's gross, but is this mould actually bad for your child's health? Probably not.
Although it looks bad, Dr. Paul Williams of Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center told Babble that it's not a huge worry.
"The likelihood of a child getting sick from this is close to zero," notes Dr. Konopasek. She compares ingesting mould from a bath toy to accidentally giving your child a piece of mouldy bread to eat.
To try to keep mould out of your child's toys try these handy cleaning tips:
- The dishwasher can be a perfect mould killer as it heats and sanitises. Try chucking a few bath and chew toys through it on a regular basis.
- Mix water and white vinegar and soak the toys in the solution before scrubbing any visible mould loose. Let them dry completely before returning them to circulation.
- If all else fails, boil the suckers and squeeze out the gross stuff that comes loose.
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