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Cuddly Creatures

by Kathryn Funk

Do you recall the special stuffed animal always by your side throughout childhood? One of the first relationships your child will build outside of the family is likely to be with a stuffed toy. A fuzzy, soft and cuddly creature - providing great comfort to the hearts of littles. Stuffed friends are more than just ornate nursery decor, they play an important role in your child’s life. Infants may embrace a blanket or small soft toy, by 12 -18 months their interest in stuffed animals will likely increase. Gradually, your toddler will become attached to one or multiple soft companions who will aid in their development.

Read on to learn about some of the benefits of plush play for your child’s mental, emotional and social development.

Source of Comfort
A child’s cuddly creature will provide them a great sense of comfort - of course, it is familiar, it loves them, it reminds them of home and happy moments, and it feels safe. The smaller size gives children the control to move and carry their stuffy about. It’s natural for toddlers to take along their stuffed friend wherever they go, theres no harm and they’ll eventually grow out of this, so no need to discourage this. They’ll have comfort in it’s warmth, especially when experiencing new
environments.

After they’ve reached toddlerhood, sleeping with their favorite stuffed animal will be cherished during the nighttime hours. For some toddlers, having stuffy is arms reach if they awake may be all they need to quickly soothe themselves back to sleep.

Language
Beloved toys are an infinite source to build language skills. Toddlers can learn and practice tons of words with their toy. With your support and encouragement you can always use stuffed animals as a prop to teaching your child new words.
“Awh! Hug the cat.” “Do you want to kiss your stuffy?” “Oh wow, you are making your stuffy jump.” “Jump, jump, jump.” Actions, colors, adjectives, and the feelings and meanings behind words can be taught during playtime with stuffed toys. Take every possible opportunity to build language!

Pretend Play
Children re-enact what they notice adults doing, and things they themselves do on their toys, whether it’s feeding their soft friend, making it dance, putting it to sleep and much more. Parents and caretakers can play along with this sometimes, while other moments its best to just let your children explore their imagination on their own. Of course you’ll be gazing at them and grinning so wide from from the sidelines as you watch them mother their toy. Kids use pretend play to practice real life experiences. As they experiment with different ways of socializing they enhance in areas of cooperative play, and sharing skills and creative problem-solving.

Emotions
Empathy and confidence builders: a stuffed friend allows children to explore complex emotions which they haven’t yet learned how to fully process. Through independent play with their stuffed toys, children actually experiment with their cuddly creature. They act out situations with the toy as really a type of practice. Children feel assured stuffy provides them a safe place, so they feel secure to express new emotions and ways of releasing new feelings by acting them out on their stuffed friend.

Additionally, children can learn the emotions/feeling behind words when you use interactive language methods to teach vocabulary.

Social Skills
Through a stuffed toy, kids learn the importance of kind social acts and skills such as: hugging, kissing, being gentle and taking care of our loved ones. Referring to the cuddly creature as their friend emphasizes that genuine and loving actions extend to our peers as well as our family.

So, what cuddly creatures to buy?
Funk’s Wooden Wonders has a unique selection of cuddly creatures on our website. An array of quirky animals from Paris, each eye-catching and imaginative with their own story to tell. Plok the Leopard has several different colors and textures for babies to experience, she’s an excellent sensory stuffy, while Kiwi the Kiwi upholds the friendly reputation of New Zealanders, and musical Parisian street cats, Lulu and Alphonse are smooth and cool. All of the stuffed animals on
Funk’s Wooden Wonder’s website are gender neutral, out of the box style and extra cuddly with a durability that will withstand years of constant play.

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