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Why Stuffed Animals Are Important

It’s no secret that little ones love their cuddly pals. After all, what’s not to love? But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that these imaginary companions play a more vital role in child development than you may think.

They provide much-needed comfort
Perhaps the most obvious function stuffed animals serve is to ease distress and anxiety. (Any parent who’s watched their baby’s tears turn to giggles at the sight of their favorite stuffed animal knows this to be true.) For infants, the world can sometimes feel like an uncertain, scary place. Stuffed toys can help them cope with these emotions because they represent familiarity and reassurance.
This is also important for gradually building your baby’s ability to self-soothe without the help of mom or dad. Big life events, like welcoming a sibling, for instance, can feel less threatening with a favorite stuffed buddy by your child’s side.

They help develop social skills
When you see an infant loving on their favorite stuffed animal, it may not look like play. However, the truth is that these types of toys help lay the groundwork for fundamental social skills. Experts say that 12 to 18 months is the optimal time to start using toys like stuffed animals and dolls to encourage pretend play. This often includes mimicking the familiar, everyday activities that are part of their regular routines. Pretending to eat or drink from a bottle, for example, is a relatable activity that allows the child to take on the role of caregiver and use their imagination.
Allowing young children to immerse themselves in pretend play with other children is also profoundly important to social development. This can include everything from siblings role-playing with stuffed animals, to your child using their favorite stuffed toy to interact with a playmate at daycare. The point is that engaging in cooperative activities together bolsters social skills.

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