Stuffed toys are an integral part of any child’s life. We’ve all had one at some point and we bet many of you still keep theirs for memory’s sake or have handed them down to their children. But what may seem as an item for fun as entertainment at first is actually a very potent tool that can impact their future and today we tell you exactly how and why.
The dictionary defines stuffed toys as items with an outer fabric sewn from a textile and then stuffed with a flexible material. They are referred to in various terms all over the globe such as plush toys, stuffed animals, plushies, snuggies, stuffies, snuggled animals, soft toys, cuddly toys and a few other variations. They’ve been around for more than a century with the earliest ones made at home up until 1880 where the first commercial manufacturer and designer opened shop in Germany.
As to how they impact a child and their future is one that’s more than meets the eye. A lot of people would categorize them as items for fun and leisure but they also contribute to skills development and even emotional and mental health.
For toddlers, they are able to introduce the concept of the basic senses and motor skills. Their varied textures help teach touch while their colors, patterns and designs teach vision. Some of these toys come with music and sounds which satiates the sense of hearing.
Stuffed toys have also been seen as a healthy mechanism in helping kids cope with things like trauma, fear and nerves. How many times have we asked for our favorite teddy bear to accompany us to sleep because we’re afraid of the dark? They’re also a great tool in easing negative emotions like anger, sadness, disappointment and failure. They’re always a hug away which brings us to our next point.
They trigger the release of happy hormones. The thing with stuffed toys is that they are very cuddly and huggable. One cannot help but lock them in a tight embrace and as science has proven, hugs release a happy hormone in the brain. Ever wondered why those warm embraces feel addicting? This applies whether or not you give or you receive the hug.
Additionally, stuffed toys help in nurturing a child’s creativity and imagination which are essential qualities that will prove useful as they grow up and go through with life.
Just because something is fun doesn’t mean it is any less rewarding. Stuffed animals for instance may be seen as a mere play thing but what others don’t realize is that there is more to them than meets the surface.
As a matter of fact, stuffed animals can play an integral role in the growth and development of a child. Let’s start from the very beginning.
Even before a child is born, the nursery is often filled with stuffed toys from the excited parents, their family and friends. Since the baby is often exposed to it, they get better acquainted to vision through it. The colors and patterns allow them to familiarize the environment they see.
As the baby moves about more often, the toy now serves to help better acquaint them with the other senses. Stuffed animals are soft and often come in different textures which aid in touch. Some have musical features to it which aid in sound and hearing. And believe it or not, there’s smell and taste too. We know kids will always want to sniff and bite into anything they can get their hands on. Moreover, they help them in developing their motor skills as they eventually learn to crawl, walk and run.
Now a toddler, the stuffed animals are more than just a toy. They become friends which most kids tend to bring into their adulthood. A lot of us still have our favorite toys for safekeeping for memory’s sake and for others to pass onto people they love.
They can help in reducing, minimizing and eventually eliminating anxiety, anger, negativity and sadness among children or even fear such as when they’re always hesitant and scared to sleep on their own. They can also encourage happy thoughts because they imbibe positivity with the use of attractive, colorful and comfortable design aesthetics. In fact, a lot of therapists and psychologists make use of stuffed animals in treating kids who have emotional problems, anger and fear issues or even trauma.
You see, stuffed animals are more than just toys. They can be a friend too and one that teaches a child so many things from simple movement to a color to making them feel better on a gloomy day. How many of us remember hugging our toys when we scraped our knees as a kid or when we were feeling down because we missed someone?
Taking care of one’s stuffed animals is essential to their survival. Adequate and proper upkeep will help ensure that wear and tear is slowed down and the toys are kept at their best shape in as much as possible.
Care and maintenance for these toys is not rocket science. It’s simpler than what one would initially assume. In fact, here are a few easy tricks that will serve as your guide as you give those stuffed animals their much deserved TLC.
- A handheld vacuum cleaner can do the trick. For toys that aren’t too dirty and would only require a few dusting, a good old vacuum can be pretty handy. Just make sure that it’s not placed at the highest setting to avoid damaging the fur or hair of the stuffed animal.
- Small stains may be spot treated. Let’s say that your juice accidentally soaked a small part of the toy’s limb. You don’t have to throw it in the wash just yet especially if the stuffing wasn’t drenched. A damp cloth can easily fix the dilemma. Just make sure to use a clean and white one to avoid transferring colors or staining the toy.
- One has to wash their toys every so often. A regular schedule should be part of their care routine. This can be done by hand or machine. In both cases, use lukewarm water and mild laundry detergent. Avoid bleach at all costs. If the latter is preferred, place the toy inside a mesh bag or a pillow case for added protection. Dry using a handheld dryer or a machine.
- Never expose them to direct heat for prolonged periods. This applies both in storing and even in washing and drying. High temperatures may cause their colors to fade or some accessories to melt.
- Keep them in a cool dry place that’s away from moisture. Open shelving, toy chests and even cabinets are great options. But make sure to do away with areas of the home that tend to develop a lot of humidity. The moisture can encourage the development of molds and even attract insects and rodents.
- Make it a point to brush their hair. Over time, they can get tangled and frizzy too. To keep one’s stuffed animals looking as pristine as ever, use a wide toothed brush or your own hand to comb through the toy. Easy-peasy right?
More on stuffed toy cleaning at Instructables.com.