Teddy bears, Beanie Babies and of course, our very own Sock Animals: there is no doubt that stuffed animal toys are popular, and enduringly so.
Most nurseries in the land are littered with fluffy, fuzzy creatures of all shapes and sizes for children to shower with love. Many smaller children cannot nod off if their favourite critter isn’t right next to them.
But not only are they cute, stuffed animals are really good for childhood development too. Here’s why:
- They encourage kindness and nurturing habits
Having something to love and care for is a huge part of developing empathy. Knowing that another creature has needs to be met – food, warmth, cuddles and play – is the first step towards nurturing compassion in little ones.
- They promote role play
Make believe, with a cast of soft toy characters, is excellent for a child’s social skills. Children will copy a parent’s actions with their toys meaning cooking, bed time, talking on the telephone can all be achieved easily but with them in the ‘starring’ role of mummy or daddy (sometimes it’s hard to imagine that our children think of us as heroes when we’re juggling work, rest and play with ketchup stains on our lapels). Using their imagination in this way will absolutely help them better understand the world around them.
- They offer comfort
Cuddly, fluffy, soft or cosy – who wouldn’t want to fall asleep with a squishy animal friend in their bed? Stuffed toys provide an enormous source of reassurance to young children, who feel safe and protected by their presence.
- They improve language skills
As any parent can attest, when a child starts to talk, they are unlikely to want to stop. But, learning a whole new language takes practise. This is where soft toys come in. From deep and meaningful early morning chats in bed to laughing over lunch or afternoon tea parties, an animal companion is a welcome sparring partner for little ones!
- They provide a slice of childhood long after we’ve grown up
Adult life can be overwhelming, boring and exhausting. Who doesn’t like to cast their mind back to the halcyon days of childhood – Iced Gems and constant sunshine, long days of make believe and zero responsibility? There’s a lot we have to leave in childhood, but a beloved soft toy is not one of them. So many adults keep their first teddy for their entire lives, because just looking at it brings about a wave of nostalgia for a time when life was a lot less complicated!
*Click to read Daily Telegraph article