Sophie La GirafeBy Nicola Martin 16th July 2015
It is the simplest of little giraffes with a super-cute face and an adorably soft body, but if I’m entirely honest, I had no idea what all the fuss was about when Lou said ‘We MUST have Sophie!”. There she was, on the original TMBaby hit list in big capital letters, with six underlines and a little love heart doodled next to her name. Sophie was a no-questions-asked-we’re-having-her kind of a toy!
I first witnessed Sophie fever when Lou and I were standing in the lift of the Tate Modern, taking Miss Skye Daisy to her first exhibition! Skye was teething at the time and Sophie’s skinny little neck was held in a vice-like grip wherever she went. Enter a gaggle of French school girls on a trip to London, who on spotting our super cute girl (no bias at all!) started oooo-ing and ahhh-ing over her. However, as soon as one of them spotted Sophie, there was loud applause and much animation as they spoke far too quickly for my rusty French ear to understand – all I caught was the word ‘Sophie’ punctuating the air with smiles and giggles!
You see, Sophie has been a much-loved toy in France for generations, making her first appearance on 25th May 1961. (25th May is Saint Sophie’s Day in France and her production birthday gave our little friend her name.) In those days, the only animal toys available were farm animals or pet figures but one Monsieur Rampeau, had a vision of a little giraffe who would be the first exotic wildlife figure on the market, and the perfect size and shape for a baby's small hands to grasp.
Sophie looked exactly the same then as she does today and to this day, Sophie la Girafe is "traditionally" produced in a process that involves more than 14 manual operations. VULLI, the company based in Rumilly in the Haute-Savoie region of France has continued to keep the highly guarded secret of how this wonder toy is made!
She was an immediate success and as the little giraffe's fame spread across Europe, generations of children came to love Sophie, and Mums and Dads felt safe in the knowledge that she was a natural teething toy for their little ones. Apart from being the perfect shape, Sophie is made from 100% natural rubber derived from the sap of the Hevea tree which is a flexible, renewable, natural materials and non-toxic paint mean. It is natural, elastic and water-resistant, acts as an insulator and is pleasant to the touch and smells nice.
But perhaps more importantly, babies and toddlers love her! Since Skye’s love of Sophie transformed my opinion on the simple little toy, I have bought Sophie for several of my friends' babies and hear the same story from everyone. She is amazing! There is no real explanation for this; yes, she is a perfect size which may go some way to explaining it, and she is super-cute, soft and smells just lovely. But why has she stood the test of time, with over 50 million Sophies sold in the past 50 years? Why has she caused the Kardashians, Elton John and Uma Thurman all to come out as fans? What is it this little Giraffe has that babies just can’t resist?
I don’t know, but I do know if you are looking for a gift for a newborn, or searching for a toy that will help soothe your crying baby or toddler while they teethe then Sophie needs to go onto your wishlist!
HOW SOPHIE HELPS DEVELOPMENT
Touch is the first means a baby has to communicate with the outside world and Sophie’s soft feel which mimics a mother's skin, stimulates physiological and emotional responses that soothe baby and promote healthy growth and well-being.
To begin with, Sophie la girafe's squeaker keeps baby amused and stimulates hearing and then later, she helps baby understand the link between cause and effect.
At 3 months old a baby's eyesight is still limited and can only make out high contrasts. The dark and contrasting attention-catching spots all over Sophie’s body provide visual stimulation as she becomes a familiar and reassuring object for baby.
Sophie has a soft texture and lots of chewable parts (ears, horns, legs) making her perfect for soothing baby's sore gums during teething. She is made of 100% natural rubber and foodgrade paints making her completely safe to chew.
The singular scent of natural rubber from the Hevea tree makes Sophie very special and easy for your child to identify among their other toys.
Easy to grip
Thanks to her shape and 18cm size, Sophie la girafe is perfect for baby's small hands. She is very light, and her long legs and neck make it easy for baby to grip, even from his earliest days.
Now on TMBaby!
Much to Lou’s disappointment, we didn’t get Sophie on our first visit to Harrogate. They are very particular with regards to their stockists and look for quality brands with strong family values. As we hadn’t launched at that point, we had no track record or credentials to check and we were politely declined. However, ten months after our site went live we tried again and were delighted to be accepted; it was like winning an award!
Happy Teething, Happy Playing and Happy Loving Sophie!
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