Don’t throw out the giraffe just yet

Teething toys are a staple in just about every household with children. They make teething a little less painful for kids — and parents. But are teething toys, like Sophie the Giraffe, hoarders of dangerous mold and germs?

“Thinking about letting your child use a toy filled with bacteria or mold has a strong ‘ick’ factor for parents,” said Kristina K. Bryant, M.D., hospital epidemiologist at Norton Children’s Hospital and infectious disease specialist with University of Louisville Physicians. “That being said, there is very little science that these toys are going to cause any real problems for a healthy child.”

Though a recent Good Housekeeping article stirred controversy over the popular giraffe toy, using common sense about cleaning teething toys can keep them safe to use.

“Unsanitized teething toys can potentially harbor all sorts of germs,” Dr. Bryant said. “It’s important to clean teething toys properly and regularly.”

Clean the toys on a routine basis.

  • Clean teething toys once per week using a safe combination of hot water, vinegar and dishwashing soap or consult your favorite cleaning product’s website.
  • Consult the manufacturer’s instructions when available.
  • When you clean the toys, be sure to scrub the surfaces, cracks and crevices.

Toss the toys and get news ones every so often.

  • If you aren’t diligently cleaning toys after each use, you may discover black specks inside or in crevices. If you see this, toss the toy.
  • When purchasing new ones, avoid toys with a pinhole in the bottom.


epidemiologists infectious disease

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