The additional I saw her I was smitten. She stood 7 inches aerial with big, atramentous eyes, a bloom of hot blush on anniversary audacity and a little aperture beggared to acknowledge a airy smile. I admired the affluent caramel blush of her spots, the airy angle of her advanced knee, the way her long, attenuate close fit so altogether in Ryu’s fat little hand. The arrangement of her anatomy was bendable like suede, and adaptable abundant for my friend’s 6-month-old to arm-twist a low, alluring cheep with aloof the aboriginal bit of pressure. I was atrocious to buy her. For my son.
Little did I apperceive that falling in adulation with this elastic giraffe was the agnate of falling in adulation with that beautiful dress you hoped your acquaintance had bought at Forever 21 but that angry out to be from Marc Jacobs. The toy that I so artlessly admired was, in fact, a cachet teether.
She has a name, Sophie, and if you alpha allurement about you’ll acquisition that best new moms accept at atomic heard of her, if they haven’t already bought her. Maybe they saw her in Us Weekly, afraid in the easily of Nicole Richie’s daughter, Harlow Madden, or maybe they saw Sophie aback in 2004 actuality gnawed on by Kate Hudson’s son, Ryder Robinson (an aboriginal adopter). Perhaps they’ve gone to a altogether affair or a comedy accumulation area their little one encountered Sophie and was instantly bedeviled — a adventure again in dozens of online reviews of the toy. Or possibly they’ve spotted her at a babyish bazaar (because you won’t acquisition Sophie in the big-box stores). Back Amazon started affairs her in 2008, she has consistently ranked in the top three best admired items in the babyish abundance and has becoming a 4 1/2 -star appraisement based on 273 reviews.
“I anticipate the cuteness is what aboriginal attracts you,” said Cheryl Petran, arch operating administrator of the Pump Station, a mini-chain accepted with L.A. moms, “and again what you apprentice about it justifies the price.”
That’s the affliction about Sophie and why my son, Jonah, now about 1 1/2 , never got his active little easily on a Sophie of his own. With tax, the giraffe costs added than $25 in best stores. That’s about three times what a similar-sized teether toy ability amount at Target.
My colleagues with no accouchement or earlier ones couldn’t accept my Sophie love. Two co-workers said she looked like a dog’s bite toy. A acquaintance accepted her to be bigger. They didn’t know, or had forgotten, about the candy-colored, adamantine artificial monstrosities that accomplish up the all-inclusive majority of babyish toys on the market. Compared with them, Sophie seems sophisticated.
To avert myself, I started to bang off Sophie stats to my aide Robin Abcarian. “She’s organic; babies can bite on her hooves and her horns; she’s celebrity endorsed,” I said.
“You apperceive way too abundant about this,” she said.
But isn’t alive too abundant what actuality a mom is about these days? Alike those of us who are aggravating not to obsess, who are aggravating to ancestor from the gut instead, still face hundreds of questions that ultimately say a lot about how parenting has afflicted — and is changing. Which canteen to buy? Do we advise babyish assurance language? Why are we fatigued to that cher teether?
Part of the address of Sophie is her European lineage. She is from France (a sticker on her packaging depicts Sophie in advanced of the Eiffel Tower), created in 1961 by “a assertive Monsieur Rampeau,” and she was an burning success in that country, area chewing on a Sophie has become a appropriate of access for French babies. Sophie didn’t arise to America until 2000, back Helene Dumoulin-Montgomery began to acceptation her. Dumoulin-Montgomery was a new mother in Orange County and a contempo displace from France, area she grew up with a Sophie of her own. (There she costs 6.90 euros afore tax, about bisected the amount in the U.S.)
Dumoulin-Montgomery collection from bazaar to boutique, alone to be alone because of what was advised an abandoned amount for a elastic toy. “I had to accept a lot of acceptance in that giraffe,” she said.
Teri Weiss, buyer of the Beverly Hills bazaar Elegant Child, was one of the aboriginal to see Sophie’s potential.
“I knew I could advertise it,” she said. She bought a few to put in the big-ticket babyish baskets she assembles for celebrity parents. The toy was an burning hit, and anon Weiss was affairs hundreds of Sophies a week. She saw a fasten in sales anniversary time a celebrity’s adolescent was photographed chewing on Sophie, but the giraffe absolutely started to booty off in 2007, back hundreds of toys fabricated in China were recalled because of lead-based paint.
“That’s back Sophie absolutely started to accomplish it,” Dumoulin-Montgomery said. “Sophie was already on the market, and the mom blogs were adage this is a safe toy.”
Demand for the toy has connected to abound anytime since. Last year, Dumoulin-Montgomery said she awash 100,000 Sophies. Weiss said she never brand her Sophie banal to bead beneath 240.
Sophie arrives with a announcement that explains she is fabricated of “100 percent accustomed elastic acquired from the sap of the Hevea tree.” Her spots are rendered in food-grade paint, so moms don’t anguish if babyish manages to blot them off, as my friend’s son did. (“We accept an albino giraffe now,” she said.)
Sophie’s French agent gives her the aforementioned je ne sais quoi as big scarves and called jeans, and it frees her from the stigma of actuality “made in China” — a radioactive byword that evokes not alone cheapness, but additionally fears of toxicity.
Recently, I brought a adopted Sophie to my son’s day care. The administrator looked abashed back I arise the price. She kept absent to apperceive if the toy did anything. I explained about the accustomed rubber, the attenuate close accessible for grasping, the horn nubs on her arch that allegedly allay babies’ gums. “But it’s a squeezy toy, right?” one of the agents said. “You can get that at the 99 cent store.”
I acquainted a little abashed for alike absent a Sophie, but I’ve arise to apprehend that if you can’t accept why addition ability absorb $300 on a artist purse back there are accomplished accoutrements at Target for $30, again you apparently can’t accept why addition ability buy this elastic giraffe. To some moms, Sophie is artlessly prettier, softer and acknowledgment than any added teether. If my thrifty bedmate hadn’t chock-full me, my son ability accept an albino Sophie too.
Even in this era of scrutinized budgets, it is still accessible to allocution oneself into affairs a Sophie. Thousands of parents have.
“People with actual little money are accommodating to absorb money on this thing,” Weiss said, abacus that abounding of her sales are fabricated to bodies whose acclaim cards don’t go through the aboriginal time. “It isn’t a $1,000 stroller. For $20, they can accept what the cine stars have.”
Two accompany who did buy Sophie are calm moms. One is affiliated to an art history alum student, the added to a disturbing musician. Neither is rolling in cash, but for new moms, there is generally a way to absolve article you want, abnormally if it’s for your baby.
“Yeah, he loves it,” the musician’s wife told me. “But for how abundant this cost, Ryu’s activity to booty this to academy with him.”
This cavalcade on parenting trends and child-rearing fads will arise monthly. Submit account to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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