It's the hugely popular chew toy that can be found in millions of homes around the world. 


But it seems that Sophie The Giraffe could also be a health hazard to your child - simply because parents are not aware that they need to clean the item regularly.


Indeed, concerned mums and dads are now posting images of what the inside of Sophie REALLY looks like... and it's not pretty. 



One such mum is Stephanie Oprea, who via Amazon warned: "Beware!! If you have a drooly baby, moisture will get in the hole and you'll end up with mold! We've had ours for two years and the entire inside is coated with black mold!"


Another user on What To Expert also shared a similarly worrying snap, explaining: "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.



"My DH and I thought we'd be smart and cut the legs, so they weren't so long... Afterall, she's a $30 toy, we didn't want to just throw her out.


"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. Just a little heads up to other moms who have this toy."



US-based paediatric dentist Dana Chianese has voiced her concerns too. A mum of two boys under the age of three, previously she had recommended teething toys - including Sophie The Giraffe - to parents.


Not anymore, however. According to Good Housekeeping, a month ago she decided to clean the toy and noticed the air coming out of the hole smelled musty.



"I decided to cut into Sophie out of curiosity and discovered a science experiment living inside," Dana told the website. "Smelly, ugly mold living in my infant's favorite chew toy!"


She added that she always cleaned Sophie according to instructions, using hot, soapy water with a damp sponge and never submerging it into water.


"It still hurts my heart to know that for months I allowed my babies to chew on moldy toys," she said. "I no longer buy any chew toys with a hole or recommend any to my patients."



Other parents, however, have been quick to highlight that if the item isn't regularly cleaned, then fungus is probably inevitable. And some who went to the trouble of cutting open the toy discovered it was completely mould-free inside. 


"No mold in our Sophie and I run it through dishwasher all the time," said one user on Amazon


Another recommended: "All toys that squeak or squirt water are vulnerable to this, not just Sophie The Giraffe.


"You can either let it soak in vinegar or bleach and squeeze it through it, put it in the dishwasher now and then, or just take your hot glue gun and close up the hole when it's new."



The manufactures furthermore issued a statement to Good Housekeeping which read: "It's important to know that Sophie la Girafe [Sophie The Giraffe] is composed of 100 percent natural rubber, so the cleaning instructions have to be carefully respected."


It added: "We recommend to clean the surface of Sophie La Girafe with a damp cloth. It should not be immersed in the water nor rinsed off, to prevent water from getting inside, as she may become damaged."


It concluded: "Please know that the safety of children and satisfaction of their parents is our main priority. For the past 55 years, we have always strived to exceed security standards and all of our products comply with the most stringent global standards."