As most moms know, bath toys are very susceptible to growing mold if water gets inside of them—particularly any toys that squeeze and squirt. Most of those bath toys can be easily cleaned or bleached with no problem. But lots of moms don't consider that teething toys are also at risk due to constant moisture from drooling, teething babies.
Photos of the popular teether known as Sophie the Giraffe have been making rounds on the internet because some moms say they've found mold inside their baby's toy, despite following the packaging instructions for cleaning it.
The go-to teething toy isn't cheap, retailing at around $25, but lots of moms swear by it. There's a small hole in the teether (where the squeak comes from) and that's where moisture gets in and mold can develop inside.
Dana Chianese, a pediatric dentist, told Good Housekeeping that she has recommended Sophie the Giraffe teething toys to many of her patients' parents, and given them to her own two boys as well. But when she recently was cleaning her sons' giraffe and noticed a weird smell coming from the hole, she decided to cut the toy open. She was horrified to find the inside filled with black mold.
According to the manufacturer's care instructions, you should not sterilize Sophie, nor should you put it in the dishwasher, bath tub or under water (which can affect the squeak, as well as allow water to get inside and potentially cause mold to grow). Sophie the Giraffe teethers should be wiped clean with soapy water and a damp cloth.
Chianese maintains that she always followed the toy's cleaning instructions and never submerged it.
"It still hurts my heart to know that for months I allowed my babies to chew on moldy toys," Chianese told Good Housekeeping. "I no longer buy any chew toys with a hole or recommend any to my patients."
And Chianese isn't the only mom who has discovered mold inside her child's Sophie teether, either.
Stephanie Oprea, shared a photo (shown above) in her Amazon review of the product, with her child's Sophie cut in half and filled with black mold. After two years of constant use with a "drooly baby," she was also shocked to find the toy filled with mold. She wrote that she followed the manufacturer's care instructions and never put Sophie in the bath, dishwasher or a boiling pot of water—which she points out would obviously cause water to go into the hole.
"I did not put hot glue over the hole," Oprea wrote, "because that pops right out if it's chewed enough and it would've become a choking hazard."
Although not all parents have the same experience with mold growing inside their child's teething toy, it is still cause for concern, and parents should be vigilant about checking their Sophie regularly.
If your child's teether smells even faintly of mold, it should be thrown away and replaced with a new one.