How to choose a soft toy?
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Thousands of models, materials and shapes of stuffed animals are stocked on online stores and physical stores. From baby's first cuddly toy to his companion when he is a little older, the soft toy plays a very important role in the child's psychomotor and psychological development .
Safety is the most important selection criterion when purchasing. The perfect soft toy is one that lasts and does not harm the health of the child , even if he puts it in his mouth. Also take into account the choice of the ideal material which respects the natural skin integrity of the baby or slightly older child. Also think about the maintenance process, the goal being to make your life easier.
1- The guarantee of safety above all :
Baby must play safely with his cuddly toy . It must be soft, strong and easy for little hands to handle. The ideal soft toy for him is designed to current European standards. If possible, keep a close eye on the label in this case to gauge the quality of the item. Choose a plush toy manufactured to NF or CE standards , information that you must find on the label.
If the plush toy you choose has additional elements, such as buttons or accessories like bows or a headband, it is imperative to check their grip. These elements must be securely attached to the body of the cuddly bear or other animal, for example. They must not be torn off easily at the slightest movement, when baby pulls on them or grabs his comforter by these elements. It’s actually the first thing that will intrigue him and arouse his curiosity.
A well-secured soft toy for your child must also be appropriate for their age. Also on the label, the age conditions are clearly indicated. Be careful, many soft toys are, for example, not recommended for children under 36 months. A newborn's comfort blanket should never have batteries.
2- The choice of the material of the plush toy :
There are two main choices for your child's stuffed toy : natural material and synthetic material . The first is always recommended against the second, because of its solidity and softness. Natural materials resist frequent washing without affecting the color. Synthetic materials are much less durable and their fibers can quickly deteriorate on contact with water and washing products. Often, the color of synthetic plush toys fades over time, especially if the covering is of poor quality. Which natural material to choose?
A. Cotton: why choose it ?
Cotton is a plant fiber highly appreciated for its quality and ease of manufacture for all types of fabrics. Cotton is a very soft material also frequently used for making soft toys. Beyond its very soft character, this material also has increased capacity to resist heat, especially washing machines. Colors fade less quickly, despite regular washing.
B. Wool: what are the advantages ?
Wool has been used for centuries and has not lost an ounce of its qualities, for which it is widely used, particularly in the manufacture of quality stuffed animals. Wool is first of all an insulating material which therefore does not retain heat , but which keeps you warm in winter. Wool is also very easy to wash and resists shock and cleaning products.
C. Linen and its characteristics :
Linen completely eliminates hazardous materials for your child. It is also very strong and resistant to bad weather and time. However, you must make sure to choose quality linen, that is to say with long fibers which ensure its unfailing strength. Linen is also highly resistant to washing .
D. Choose a hypoallergenic material :
The little ones quickly and easily put their soft toy in their mouth. It is therefore important to choose a hypoallergenic material , which also respects the child's skin which is still fragile and easily sensitized. The anti-allergic soft toys are also designed with micro-aerated breathable materials . The air circulation technology by which types of cuddly toys are made makes it possible to design the parts that are suitable from birth.
3- Assurance of ease of maintenance :
No matter the color and material, when the child chooses to take his stuffed animal everywhere, it gets dirty very quickly and often. The comforter is then constantly exposed to stains and splashes.
The quality plush to choose is therefore also one that is easy to wash , especially in the washing machine to relieve you of additional stains. It must then withstand a minimum washing temperature of 30°C . The plush should be washed very regularly. It is indeed a real nest conducive to the proliferation of bacteria in the absence of maintenance in the rules of the art. Baby's health may be affected. Even if your child is reluctant to send it to the machine to be left unused while it dries, find a way to wash it for their well-being.
The manufacturers advise washing at least once a month, if the plush is not very dirty. This washing frequency therefore depends on how baby uses his stuffed toy. Many parents choose to wash it when baby is asleep and return it to him when dry before he wakes up.
4- The choice of plush toy according to its durability :
The child will quickly become attached to his cuddly toy. It is therefore important to choose one that lasts over time and is not easily damaged. Whether reversible plush toys or classic plush toys , this choice matters a lot.
The durability of the plush of course depends on the material, the design or the brand. But regardless of these points, the main thing is always to maintain it well. Without regular washing and dusting as it should be, it's hard to count on the longevity of the plush, whether it's a classic type or a giant stuffed animal .
5- The choice of soft toy according to age :
Age is a very recommended factor when choosing the ideal soft toy for your child . The design of the toy according to the age group guarantees the solidity of all the elements that compose it. And for the little ones, the soft toys are free of small parts which risk choking them if they are poorly fixed.
The age indicator also means that the soft toy is the ideal size for baby's size . It is indeed very important to choose a soft toy that is neither too small nor too large for your child.
A. Before 36 months :
Few soft toys are suitable for children under 36 months , because the risk of ingesting fibers and small parts of the material is still very real. Although the plush toy is so soft, it is also potentially dangerous for this age group. So prefer the comforter . Here again, you have to choose carefully. Preferably opt for a hypoallergenic comforter made from a natural and organic material if possible.
Your baby's little companion must also be the same size as his so that he can adapt to his very small hands. A cuddly toy for this age group doesn't need any decorations. Avoid comforters that are too bright or have a sound source. Choose simplicity and tenderness. Whatever the color, opt for an easily washable comforter. It must be kept absolutely clean every day. At this age, babies chew a lot.
B. From 3 years old :
In the majority of cases, when baby grows, his cuddly toy changes role. He becomes his playmate whom he takes for a walk, whom he feeds and who accompanies him in his little invented stories. His daily life, the child shares it with his teddy. His "friend" very often stays by his side, he mainly plays the role of confidant who reassures him in his little moments of worry or sadness.
At 3 years old, the child is also looking for sleeping companionship . He likes to have his stuffed animal in his room, to sleep peacefully. He certainly won't just have a stuffed animal. You can then offer him several, with different shapes, he will like to accumulate them. Even at this age, care must be taken to choose a material that is shock-resistant and solid so that your child's attachment figure lasts as long as he grows up.
C. From 5 years old :
A bigger child experiences more and more emotional desires . He becomes more and more attached to his toys and especially to his stuffed animal, his companion in everyday life . From the age of 5, his stuffed animal, he no longer takes it with him every day. On the other hand, he likes to find her in his room when he returns from school among other things.
At this age too, the little ones like to play with their teddy more and more. They discover new games with them, they like to dress them up or make them wear accessories like hats or ties. It is also from the age of 5 that you can offer your child a giant brown bear soft toy in other forms. These XXL-sized friends can serve as a support for their little cabin in their bedroom, for example.
6- What about the giant stuffed toy ?
A soft toy is said to be giant when its size is larger than traditional models . Its minimum length is 30 centimeters , while the normal size of a standard plush is 20 centimeters. There are also even larger models. Giant teddy bears can even exceed 340 centimeters. But what are the most fashionable XXL plush models?
A. The brown bear, the star of giant stuffed animals :
The famous brown bear or simply teddy bear was born a long time ago in the USA, at the time of President Roosevelt. The man who at the time loved hunting did not always manage to kill the bear. His close collaborators and bodyguards had the good idea to hang a teddy bear on a tree to lure the press on the catch of the day of the president of the United States.
Since then, the brown bear remains the best-selling plush model on the market, despite the existence of many variants today. Safety, comfort and softness are at the rendezvous by snuggling up against this character with a small rounded belly.
B. Mickey Mouse and his friends :
For several decades, these Disney characters have been very popular with children. From generation to generation, this craze for the most famous pair of mice in the world has continued to grow.
Mickey and Minnie can be found in all toy stores, especially in the form of stuffed animals and giant stuffed animals . They will certainly please your children who are particularly fond of these gentle companions who are always present at all times.
7- How to take care of the plush toy ?
Proper maintenance of the plush ensures its long life. The quality of care that must be given to these cuddly toys is obtained by monitoring regular maintenance and not just anyhow.
A decent stuffed animal needs to be dusted properly. How to do this depends on the material and size of the object in question. Besides dusting and washing at least monthly , the plush should also be disinfected regularly . It is possible to do it dry, with baking soda for example.
Other natural ingredients can also be used to clean the plush , such as Terre de Sommières. Cooked potato pulp would also have very appreciable cleansing properties according to many opinions. In addition, depending on the model, it is strongly recommended to remove the padding from the plush before washing, especially XXL plush , at the risk of taking too long to dry.