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[Baby Teething #2] More reviews, including Sophie the Giraffe

2013 February 18

Mummy's Reviews - Keptin Jr Organic Cotton Teether Jae. Organic Cotton Teether Jae

Finally, here’s a continuation on my quest for the best natural baby teething solutions. Baby Jae started teething discomforts from about 4 months old. He kept drooling, put everything into his mouth, gummed things, and fussed a lot when he slept.

In a nutshell, these are my selected materials for teethers:

  1. Natural wood with safe finishing
  2. Organic fabric

These are what we decided NOT to use:

  • No plastic and silicone: to avoid leaching of potentially harmful chemicals into baby’s mouth. Even BPA-free plastic may not be safe enough for babies
  • No teether with liquid filling: to avoid risk of the teether bursting and exposing baby to potentially-contaminated liquid
  • No teether with small rattles or parts such as beads: to avoid choking risk
  • No teething gel and pain-relief medication to relieve teething pains: baby could be teething for many months, so how can I offer him the gel or medication for months?!?
  • No rubber: frequent exposure to latex proteins increases the risk of latex allergy. May also contain nitrosatable substances.

 Why I changed my mind about rubber teethers

Initially, I was receptive of natural rubber teethers with extremely low or minimal latex content to reduce the risk of latex allergy.

However, after more reading up while writing this review, I learnt that rubber products may contain nitrosatable substances that could pose health risks.

Since teethers are meant for frequent mouthing and I cannot simply rely on organisations to keep manufacturers in check, I decided not to offer rubber teethers to my baby anymore.

Teethers we tested out

I bought 2 teethers, was gifted with 1, and negotiated 1 set for review. Little Alouette teething toys were reviewed in Part 1 of this series. Today’s article covers 3 detailed reviews, including my take on the ever-popular Sophie the Giraffe teether.

To jump to any review, simply click on the name of the teether below:

  1. Little Alouette Wooden Teething Toys
  2. Sophie the Giraffe (original)
  3. Hevea Panda Teether
  4. Keptin Jr Rattle Ring Teether

2. Sophie the Giraffe (original)

Mummy's Reviews - Sophie the Giraffe teether

Crazily, this is probably the world’s most famous teething toy.

  • Materials: 100% natural rubber derived from the sap of the Hevea Tree (BPA and phthalates free), and non-toxic food paint
  • Country of origin: Rubber from Malaysia, made in France (French Alps)

First impressions on background and packaging:

During my search for the ideal teether, I read up on Sophie and decided not to buy it because of these reasons:

  1. Recall of Sophie the Giraffe (sold before 20 December 2011) in Germany due to dangerous nitrosatable substances above the limits permitted in Germany
  2. Reports of babies sticking Sophie’s legs too deeply into their throats, resulting in gagging or near-choking (Reviews at Amazon store)
  3. The food paint can come off after prolong use
  4. The price is out of our budget for a teether

If baby has latex allergy, Sophie the Giraffe UK website recommends that you avoid contact with all latex products, including Sophie the Giraffe. I couldn’t find information about the latex protein level in Sophie.

Then fate has it that a close friend gave us a Sophie when Jae was about 7 months old. Oh well, no escape from reviewing Sophie!

Packaging: It came in a cardboard box with a small card, and squeaked rather loudly when pressed. I don’t remember seeing any warning on latex allergy on the packaging.

Rating Guide: Oh no!     ★★ Poor     ★★★ Fair     ★★★★ Good     ★★★★★ Excellent!

(a) Care & Maintenance: ★★★★ The FAQ on Sophie the Giraffe UK website states “Wipe Sophie clean with a damp cloth – use Milton or other fluid on the cloth if you wish to sterilise. Please do not submerge Sophie in water as it enters the squeaker and she’ll stop squeaking, and she is not able to go in a microwave or steam steriliser.”

I usually wipe it clean as recommended. If needed, I’ll wash it under the tap with a bit of soap, without getting water into it.

(b) Effectiveness: ★★ Baby Jae wasn’t attracted to Sophie at 7 months old and after. Occasionally, he’d hold and squeeze it. Often, he ignores it in the play yard. He loves his other rubber teether though, so I don’t think it’s the rubbery smell.

To be fair, he loved teethers the most from 4 to 6+ months old, when the teething first started. Perhaps Sophie just missed this phase when she arrived our house. In contrast, Jae’s older cousin used to love her Sophie.

Personally, I’m not into Sophie because I prefer quieter toys over the sharp squeak. There were occasions when Jae was sleeping and Vee squeezed Sophie to make her squeak!

(c) Quality:  Jae hasn’t tested Sophie vigorously enough to judge its resistance to wear and tear.

Our Sophie’s batch number is 270300. This means it was produced on the 300th day of 2010, BEFORE the content of nitrosatable substances was reduced.

Mummy's Reviews - Sophie the Giraffe batch number

Dear Sophie, I can’t let my babies mouth you anymore.

(d) Overall Value: Sophie the Giraffe retails at USD25 (or SGD39.90 in Singapore and RM99 in Malaysia) — gasp, the most expensive teether I’ve seen. In France, it seems to be packaged at about USD12, which is a more reasonable price.

Sophie the Giraffe is a super-popular teether, but Baby Jae wasn’t attracted to it.

If you like Sophie, be sure to look out for batch numbers xx1230, xx1300 and higher. This means the production dates are from 230th day of 2011, 300th day of  2011, and later.

Latest update from Our Homegrown Adventures on 7 March 2013: It seems that only batch numbers 321230, 321300, 322090 or 322105 are confirmed safe.

What we like about it:

  • 2-in-1: teether for baby, toy for older child
  • Relatively easy to clean and maintain

What can be improved:

  • Remove latex proteins in the teether to avoid increasing risk of latex allergy in babies
  • Be proactive in ensuring product safety instead of waiting to be pressured into conforming to stricter standards

To avoid the risk of Sophie’s legs getting stuck in baby’s throat, there’s a new Sophie teether called Sophie the Giraffe So Pure Vanilla Teether*

It’s the first teething ring made of 100% natural rubber. Available in 2 models: a soft flexible model for first teeth, and a hard model for mode advanced teething stage. (Source: Sophie Giraffe USA Website)

We haven’t had the chance to try this out.

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3. Hevea Panda Teether

Mummy's Reviews - Hevea Teether

This is the rubber teether that I bought after reading many positive reviews, but before understanding more about latex allergy and nitrosatable substances.

  • Material: 100% natural rubber latex (Free from phthalates, colours, PVC & EVAtane, silicone & BPA)
  • Country of origin: Made in Malaysia, Danish design

First impressions on background and packaging:

Regarding latex allergy, Hevea’s FAQ webpage states that the “latex contents in Hevea’s products are extremely low. No allergic reactions to any Hevea products have been received to date but users should note the potential for a latex allergic response. “

Regarding nitrosamines, it states “It is correct that nitrosamines is to be found in natural rubber, but Hevea passes all the test and regulations for pacifiers, which also test for the amount of nitromines. If the limit is too high it can be dangerous, but we have NOT detected any in our products, and we have them tested randomly. “

It complies to these standards: Pacifiers – EU standard EN1400, CPSIA (U.S.A.) and the AUS.

Packaging: The teether came wrapped in a thin plastic wrapper and a small cardboard box. Packaging is made from recycled and biodegradable materials printed in soy ink.

The warning on potential latex allergy is stated on the plastic wrapping.

Rating Guide: Oh no!     ★★ Poor     ★★★ Fair     ★★★★ Good     ★★★★★ Excellent!

(a) Care & Maintenance: ★★★★★ This Hevea teether can be sterilised in boiling water. It should be cleaned by hand or in machines especially suitable for it. Not by dishwasher or microwave unless with a relevant sterilising box.

Baby Jae used to love his Hevea teether every morning, so I’d wash it with soapy water and soak it in very hot water for a while before offering it to him. After 6+ months old, I simply washed it and skipped the soaking part.

When he wasn’t using it, I’d leave it on the kitchen countertop to dry. However, after some time, I discovered some very tiny dark spots at the corners of the vertical grooves. Since my home is prone to mildew issues, I should have wiped the teether dry before airing it.

(b) Effectiveness: ★★I knew the existence of latex allergy, but no one in the family has it. I first rubbed the teether rather hard on Jae’s arm and observed for allergenic reactions such as rashes. Nothing appeared, so I offered it to him; he loved biting it immediately.

It seems to have just the right bite and is easy to hold.

(c) Quality: ★★★★★ Our Hevea Panda teether is very well-made, with smooth rounded edges. From all the biting and throwing, the teether still looked excellent. (The tiny black spots is my fault for leaving it in a moist environment.)

(d) Overall Value: Each Hevea Panda Teether retails at USD13.50 (or SGD22.90 in Singapore and RM40 in Malaysia). The price is reasonable.

Baby Jae loved his Hevea Panda Teether, but I’ve recently decided against offering rubber teethers due to the increased risk of latex allergy and potential exposure to nitrosatable substances. Soy allergy and eczema run in our family, so I’m a little more paranoid than most people.

What we like about it:

  • Simple and safe design
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Effective — Baby Jae loved using it
  • Green packaging

What can be improved:

  • Remove latex proteins in the teether to avoid increasing risk of latex allergy in babies
  • Replace the vertical grooves design with a smoother surface, to reduce mildew issues

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4. Keptin Jr Toddels Rattle Ring

Mummy's Reviews - Keptin Jr Organic Cotton Teether. Teether

After buying Hevea teether, I bought this Keptin Jr Toddels Rattle Ring at a baby fair.

  • Material: Organic cotton, stuffed with wool, beech wood (ring)
  • Country of origin: Made in Lithuania, designed in Netherlands

Keptin Jr Toddels come with or without the wooden ring, and in several colours. There’s a wide collection of Keptin Jr organic cotton dolls and toys.

First impressions on background and packaging:

I’ve been eyeing the Keptin Jr range for some time. I like the simple recycled cardboard packaging but couldn’t find information on the wood finishing.

Rating Guide: Oh no!     ★★ Poor     ★★★ Fair     ★★★★ Good     ★★★★★ Excellent!

(a) Care & Maintenance: ★★★★★ Keptin Jr Rattle Ring is machine washable at a high care programme of 30ºC (86ºF). I used to hand wash the teething toy every weekend and hang it to dry indoors.

(b) Effectiveness: ★★The Rattle Ring has cloth for a soft bite and wood for a hard bite. Great options! Baby Jae loved holding it and chewing at the ears.

When he was about 1 year old, I allowed him hold the Rattle Ring teether as a lovey-toy while he slept in his cot bed. When he woke up from nap or at night, he often held the Rattle Ring and fussed for me.

Nowadays, he can sleep through the night with no or minimal assistance, so I’ve left the Rattle Ring outside the cot.

(c) Quality: ★★★★★ Our Rattle Ring is very well made, with reinforced stitching and standing up to many hand washes.

(d) Overall Value: ★★Each Keptin Jr Rattle Ring retails at ~USD19.50 (or SGD17.50 in Singapore and RM59 in Malaysia). I bought it at 15% off during a baby expo, the price is reasonable. Thankfully, Jae likes it!

Keptin Jr Rattle Ring cleverly combines organic fabric with wood for soothing baby’s teething gums. We love it!

What we like about it:

  • Simple and safe design
  • 2 different textures (fabric and wood) to suit baby’s preferences
  • 2-in-1: teether for baby, toy for older child
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Effective — Baby Jae enjoyed using it

What can be improved:

  • Provide information on the wood finishing

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Summary of Reviews

Little Alouette
Wooden Teething Toys
Sophie
the Giraffe
Hevea
Panda Teether
Keptin Jr
Rattle Ring
What we like about it
  • Simple and safe design
  • 2-in-1: teether for baby, toy for older child
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Meant to last for generations
  • 2-in-1: teether for baby, toy for older child
  • Relatively easy to clean and maintain
  • Simple and safe design
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Effective — Baby Jae loved using it
  • Green packaging
  • Simple and safe design
  • 2 different textures (fabric and wood) to suit baby’s preferences
  • 2-in-1: teether for baby, toy for older child
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Effective — Baby Jae enjoyed using it
What can be improved
  • Offer more sets for savings
  • Remove latex proteins in the teether
    to avoid increasing risk of latex allergy in babies
  • Be proactive in ensuring product safety
    instead of waiting to be pressured
    into conforming to
    stricter standards
  • Remove latex proteins in the teether
    to avoid increasing risk of latex allergy in babies
  • Replace the vertical grooves design
    with a smoother surface, to reduce mildew issues
  • Provide information on the wood finishing

Thank you for reading through these reviews!

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Get Your Own

The teethers are available at these stores:

  • Little Alouette Wooden Teething Toys: myecobabe (Singapore)
  • Sophie the Giraffe: Moo Moo Kow (Singapore), Sophie[dot]sg (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei distributor)
  • Hevea Panda Teether: Love for Earth (Singapore), The Baby Loft, Tiny Tapir, Blue Dot Baby (Malaysia)
  • Keptin Jr Rattle Ring: Little by Little Singapore, Baby-Mel, Blue Dot Baby (Malaysia)

You may also check the prices at Amazon here:

Useful References:

P.S. You may wish to read how to help a teething baby sleep better with acupressure massage here.

P.P.S. Check out the Winners Announcements for Giveaway #31 (Brolly Sheets) and Giveaway #32 (Airwrap Deluxe).

Disclosure: Little Alouette Wooden Teething Toys were review samples from myecobabe (an ad sponsor); Sophie the Giraffe was a gift from a friend; Hevea Panda Teether was bought at full price; Keptin Jr Organic Cotton Teether was bought from Baby-Mel (previous ad sponsor) during a baby expo sale (15% discount).

Mummy’s Reviews™ is a review site that receives compensation if readers make purchases from affiliate links (these are marked with an *). If we receive compensation from the companies whose products we review, this would be disclosed. These compensation help to maintain and grow Mummy’s Reviews™. We test each product thoroughly and give ratings according to our experience with it. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Esther permalink
    March 1, 2013

    Hi,I’m not able to find info on where I can buy the Keptin Jr. Teether. I tried little by Little and Baby mel but there isn’t a relevant site. Can u tell me where else I can buy it in Singapore? Any retail shops?

  2. Amanda Teng permalink
    June 24, 2013

    Hi i would like to purchase Keptin Jr. Teether in Malaysia, do you know of any website?

  3. lynn permalink
    August 3, 2013

    How do you decipher the manufacturing date? mine has a batch number of 321320. Thanks!

    • August 15, 2013

      Hi lynn, “32″ is the manufacturing plant, “1″ means manufactured in 2011, “320″ means 320th day of 2011.

      From my reading,
      - Before 230th day of 2011: old production before nitrosatable substances were reduced
      - Batch numbers 321230, 321300, 322090 or 322105 are supposedly safe

      Your number is neither before the “unsafe” period nor supposedly safe, so it belongs to a grey area.

      How about contacting Vulli after-sales service directly for clarification? The page is here.

  4. Natania permalink
    March 20, 2014

    I have Sophie the girafe serie #270350…from what i can see it is not safe,,,where should it be returned…????

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