First there was a scare about hidden mold in nasal aspirators that are commonly used to help clear a baby’s stuffy nasal passages. Now many parents are concerned about finding mold in baby toys! One particular toy in question that is causing a stir is the classic Sophie the Giraffe toy by Vulli.
It’s a classic toy that dates back to 1961 that hasn’t lost its appeal through the years because of the natural composition that has remained the same. After a concerned parent noticed a musty smell coming from her child’s beloved squeaky giraffe, she cut it open to discover it was full of mold!
Afterwards many parents came to discover similar results after opening up their Sophie Giraffes. The problem stems from the opening in the squeaky toy where moisture can become trapped inside, contributing to mold growth.
What are the dangers of mold in baby toys?
Exposure to mold is not uncommon. In high concentrations mold can lead to respiratory problems and aggravate allergies. A person’s sensitivity to mold exposure will affect the severity of the symptoms they might encounter. According to the CDC, everyone reacts differently to mold with some people experiencing no effect on their health at all. With babies, however, the concern lies in the risk of ingesting mold from toys they frequently put in their mouth. In people with immune-compromising conditions or lung diseases, mold can cause serious infections.
Should parents be worried about possible mold in baby toys? The truth is, despite the fact that toys like the Sophie giraffe are frequently put in the mouth and chewed on, the possibility of a baby actually ingesting the mold contained inside is highly unlikely. The same is true with bath toys. While the amount of mold in a toy is very minimal to cause severe health risks if ingested, it can still be concerning for a parent of a child who may have an allergy or sensitivity to mold.
How to Clean and Sanitize Baby Toys
It is recommended that all baby toys are properly cleaned and sanitized regularly to help keep your baby healthy. Typically, a toy that has mold growing inside is a result of moisture getting inside, which can be from submerging them in water such as the bath or overly cleaning them. To prevent water or moisture getting inside the teething toy, the makers of Sophie la Giraffe instruct parents to clean the surface only of the toy using a damp cloth. It is not intended to be immersed in water nor rinsed off. The same is true for all plastic teething toys.
So what about tub toys? These are meant to go in the water so they’re also prone to developing mold. A good rule of thumb is to avoid toys that have holes in them. Look for rubber duckies and other fun bath toys without squirt holes or crevices that water can get trapped in. Additionally, you should clean toys regularly to prevent mildew from developing on the surfaces. You can do this by soaking in a solution of bleach and water for 10 minutes, or if you prefer a non-bleach alternative try this method:
- One part hot water
- One part distilled vinegar
- A few drops of dish liquid
Use a toothbrush to get in between cracks and crevices if necessary then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Be sure they are fully dry before putting them away and use a ventilated storage system such as mesh bag.
If you already have bath toys with holes in them that your kids love, inspect them carefully for mold. Be sure to squeeze all the water out and allow them to drain properly. You can also use a hair dryer to blow into the toy while squeezing the opening to ensure there is no moisture inside. Afterwards, use a glue gun to dot a dab of hot glue over the hole to seal it so water won’t get in it during the next bath time.
If you discover mold in your child’s toy, it is strongly encouraged that it be reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.