The benefits of stuffed animals for children
Stuffed animals are an almost constant companion for young children, being of great relevance for their cognitive development. Thus, teddybears are part of their life from 6 months to 6 years of age, although they are indispensable and become their attachment toys between 7- 8 months and 2 and ½ years of age approximately.
Additionally, the benefits that these stuffed animals have for them are transcendental and go beyond the decorative use, becoming almost essential in many moments of their lives. Let's see below the benefits of stuffed animals for children.
Benefits of stuffed animals for children
They help them express their feelings
Cuddly toys help children to express their feelings, especially the youngest ones, who cannot easily regulate or recognize what is happening to them. Thus, and depositing those feelings in the stuffed animal, children can express annoyance, pleasure, affection, tiredness, anger, etc.
Especially, stuffed animals help children to calm down in times of stress or anxiety, for example during a visit to the paediatrician, when they feel ill or are sick, etc. Don't miss this article by Pili Rodriguez from elblogdetubebe.com on how to calm stress in children.
They are also infallible companions at bedtime, a situation they often cannot achieve if they are not hugging their favourite stuffed animal. In fact, our children's favourite stuffed animal allows them to fall asleep deeply.
Facilitates the development of social skills
Stuffed animals help them increase their self-confidence. In this way, they can develop and show their emotions and foster the first social bonds.
In this regard, it is important to remember that stuffed animals represent an extension of the parents for the child. Consequently, being close to their favourite stuffed animal will lower the child's anxiety levels, bringing feelings of comfort, peace and security.
Helps develop the imagination
Stuffed animals, for children, are not only a psychic extension of their parents, but (as told in the Toy Story movies) they seem to have a life of their own. In other words, stuffed animals smell, move and feel warm and cosy when they are near them.
Consequently, talking to the stuffed animals (asking them how they are doing) and making them part of the family's daily reality will be of great importance for the little ones. It is also essential that children want to move the stuffed animal from one place to another both inside and outside the house.
Allows the separation between mother and child in a harmonious way.
With the help of a stuffed animal, children will be able to make the necessary separation of the first months (after 7/8 months) thus avoiding the anguish known as 8th month anguish, produced by the child's ability to recognize when the mother (or whoever fulfils this function) moves away or is absent for short periods of time leaving the children in the care of another person.
Such anguish arises as a threat for children but, on the other hand, it turns out to be essential for their emotional, social and psychic development. Consequently, teddybears allow children to cope with the first anguish of separation from their parents in the most pleasant way possible.
The choice of soft toys
Although many stuffed animals can be offered to the child in terms of textures, sizes and colours, the truth is that it will be the child who will choose the stuffed animal that will become his beloved doll, also known as an attachment toy or transitional object, according to Dr. Donald Winnicott.
Likewise, although traditionally thought of as a teddy bear, nowadays there are hundreds of designs, and the one chosen by the child can be a rabbit, a puppy, a kangaroo, a monkey, etc.
In most cases, children choose stuffed animals with soft textures (cotton and cloth) and soft colours (although there are exceptions, of course). The size of the stuffed animals may vary but mostly the stuffed animal is neither too small nor too big.
As mentioned at the beginning, stuffed animals are very important for children up to 2 and ½ years of age, although in certain cases they can fulfil the function of attachment up to 6 years of age. In the case of boys, they tend to move more quickly from stuffed animals to rigid toys, such as cars, trains or toy airplanes, while girls tend to take a little longer to make this transition.
Personalized stuffed animals
There is a tendency to give personalized stuffed animals, with the owner's name or initials embroidered on them.
This is very useful, especially if the children attend kindergarten or nursery school. In this way, there will be no confusion or loss since the child's name or initials will be embroidered on the plush toy.
Characteristics of the stuffed animals
Although each child will choose the plush toy that best suits him/her to become his/her attachment, it is also true that as parents we must take into account certain characteristics:
- The eyes and nose should be boiled and never glued. This will prevent children from accidentally putting them in their mouths and causing a domestic accident.
- Avoid stuffed animals with glitter, glitter, frosting or any material that is eye-catching but could easily come off.
- If the plush toy chosen contains batteries, it is important to make sure that they are not easily found, thus preventing the little ones from opening and removing them.
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Washing stuffed animals
Because stuffed animals accompany children everywhere (being dragged, stepped on and then tucked into their bed) thinking about frequent washing is a concern on the part of parents. Thus, there are two ways to think about washing children's stuffed animals:
Washing in the washing machine
A type of washing machine can be used for delicate items as well as placing the stuffed animal in a pillowcase. This will ensure that the stuffed animal is not accidentally deformed.
It is preferable to wash by hand with cold water and detergent, rubbing the stuffed animal in the stained areas. Then let it soak for a few minutes, rinse and dry it in the shade, previously wringing it out with a towel.
In both cases, and taking into account all of the above, it is advisable that the washing is not done in sight of the children, since for them, the smell (even the dirt) is part of their attachment toy.
And you, did you know all the benefits of soft toys for children? We are waiting for your comments and opinions!
Article written in collaboration with Pili Rodriguez, graduated in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Bachelor of Science and Food Technology, both from the University of Granada. She also has a Master's degree in Microbiology from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, specializing in Food Microbiology.