How Do You Do it, Sophie the Giraffe?
Sophie the Giraffe, the popular baby teether, is known and loved by parents everywhere. But, I didn't always like her. This is a story of my journey from rolling my eyes at to embracing the beloved baby teether.
A few years back, I was hanging with my friend and noticed her baby chewing on a cute, rubber giraffe. “Is that a toy from when you were a baby?” I asked because the giraffe looked like it had seen over two decades of love (torture). “Oh, Sophie?” my friend said, clearly surprised at my lack of baby-toy-awareness, “You don’t know about Sophie the Giraffe?”
I felt two things at that moment—
1. Annoyed. Who is this weird giraffe? It just looks like a basic, squeaky toy to me. And the name! Call it “Giraffe” or call it “Sophie” but do you need to say it altogether? Do we need to clarify that it’s not, say, Sophie the Toucan (who I wished did exist because she’d be a lot less pretentious)?
2. I felt like an outsider. The way my friend had that amused and slightly pitying look on her face made me feel like the Oliver Twist of Moms who had never tried sticky toffee pudding or worn socks with my shoes. This is when my disdain for Sophie began…
Sophie the Giraffe is a rubber teether that looks like, wait for it… a giraffe. The toy originated in France as Sophie La Girafe (even better) in 1961. It is a national icon in France with more giraffes sold each year than the number of babies born. Sophie is a national hero.
Sophie, you are really getting on my nerves.
But then I found out I was pregnant, and I couldn’t NOT run into Sophie everywhere I turned. In the clutch of a baby passing by in a stroller, in the diaper bag of the chic mom who was sitting next to me at lunch, there she was, that long-necked squeaker toy, acting privileged.
Sophie never did anything to me. She didn’t pants me or call me “fat” in high school. I just didn’t understand why a rubber giraffe toy who looked like firecrackers had been lit on it was the talk of Babytown. Population: every baby I had known or encountered. And we all know who the Mayor is.
I received 3 Sophies as gifts from kind friends while I was pregnant. The thoughtful gifts would be accompanied by a note, which explained that “apparently, this was the most popular/favorite/amazing toy on the market”. Even my non-parent friends were riding on the Sophie gondola.
My brother and sister-in-law had welcomed a baby boy during my pregnancy. After my baby, Stella, was born, my brother and his wife brought their baby Kenzo to visit. He was 6 months and in the prime of teething. Whenever he would start to drool and or cry, my sister-in-law would hand her rubber giraffe over to my teething nephew. The crying would immediately stop like, he’d just been given Sophie-flavored Ambien.
I went up to the nursery and pulled one of the boxed giraffes out of the closet. Sophie, your personality is making you more attractive.
Then Baby Stella was born, and my heart and head were spellbound by this amazing little miracle. Whenever I would breathe in her baby fragrance, I would close my eyes (I know, it’s tender) and think “I will do anything to protect you and keep you happy.”
Sophie, I think you know where this is going…
Stella had severe acid reflux, and one night, after having spit up more than a dozen times throughout the day and being dragged around with me all day, she just lost it and started crying inconsolably. My husband, son and I rocked her, walked her and all but juggled fire to calm her down, but to no avail. We offered her a smorgasbord of toys varying in texture, color, and size. She started to consider them all and even examined most, but the one that did the trick was, you know who!
Well WTF! Sophie for President!
It seems that Sophie was always the toy that would stick. I started carrying Sophie in my diaper bag. She’d earned “emergency” status and rode in my bag with formula, diapers, burp clothes and Ranch-flavored popcorn seasoning (I love that stuff). Sometimes that weird giraffe would find the perfect spot in my bag and squeak with every step I took. Her stupid squeak became endearing. Sophie became endearing!
Stella is teething like mad now. She’s drooling, whining, fevering, rashing—all those teething things. And she’s biting, just trying to get relief. And you know what fits perfectly into her mini, little mouth giving her the perfect thing to sink her gums into? That’s right, folks. Oui. It’s Mademoiselle Sophie.
Never leave us, Sophie…the giraffe.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN