The right stuffed animal can send a child on a personalized journey that can last for the rest of his or her life. Picking something cute and cuddly is a good place to start, but there's more to the story. For parents looking to choose the best stuffed animals for newborns, it's an opportunity to engage with baby’s developmental path. Stuffies can also make it easy to interact with a newborn in a variety of ways, encouraging a positive sensory experience that is rewarding for both parent and child.
But what are the features to look for in the perfect plush toy? Beyond basic safety considerations, the color, quality, durability, and size will all play a role in helping your newborn bond with a stuffy. As they learn the basics of independent play, newborns begin to see their stuffy as an extension of parental love and security. And while there are few wrong answers, the perfect choice will be an indelible experience that will have an outsized impact on any newborn.
How the Best Stuffed Animals for Newborns Bring Security and Reliability
Anyone who has fed a fired-up newborn in the dead of night can tell you how important reliability is. Newborns quickly attach to the parent(s) who feed and nurture them, leading to anxiety whenever they can't be immediately comforted. As a baby develops, extending this comfort zone through stuffed animals is an excellent way to curb these baby emotions while taking some of the pressure off the parent.
While we can't place a stuffy in a newborn's crib, there are many other times when we can use a stuffed animal as an extension of parental attention. It's helpful to understand a stuffy's role as a transitional object for a child, as it can offer a sense of reliability and comfort as they expand their sphere of recognition. Experts point out that the softness itself is a critical part of this bond: the softer and fuzzier the toy, the more comforting and the better it complements the care and attention they receive from the parent.
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Because of the emotional impact a stuffy can have, have a backup plan for your newborn's first stuffy love. Developmental experts suggest having multiples of the same stuffed animal on hand, if possible, as this allows you to easily overcome potential mishaps. If a stuffy gets damaged or a sanitary disaster strikes, you can swap in a backup and maintain the consistency your newborn craves.
Select Stuffies That Are Made to Last
Some toys can be easily replaced, leading to toy bins filled with dust-gathering castaways. But the stuffed animals that newborns connect with are a completely different story. The wonderful moments of early discovery turn into a lifetime of memories and happy associations. Our favorite stuffed animals extend our world in infancy, often make it through childhood and adolescence, and ultimately turn into cherished heirlooms passed down to future generations. Or at least that's how it goes for the stuffies designed to last for the long haul.
For high-quality stuffies, the long-term retention is both astonishing and telling. More than half of adults still have their go-to childhood stuffy, and about 10% of adults still sleep with them. Favorite stuffed animals have significant benefits for both children and adults, including lowering anxiety and stress levels for any age. This is why choosing a stuffed animal for a newborn is an investment in their present and future, not simply a toy meant to be discarded when they move on to the next phase.
But how do you find the stuffies that will last through the hurricane of child development? Materials that are known for durability and retaining color (like polyester) tend to be a great place to start. Inspecting materials and reading reviews to determine stitching quality is a simple way to get a sense of a stuffy's long-term viability. Buying from a reputable company is another great way to ensure quality. Ultimately, the last thing you want is Mr. Unicorn's horn to pop off at a critical moment of baby's development.
Choose the Right Color and Size for a Stuffy
Looking at stuffed animals as a conduit to exploration is especially important when appealing to newborns. The soft texture provides a sense of safety and comfort, but the colors also give a boost to a newborn's emerging imagination. Children typically respond very well to pastel colors, especially those on the warm side of the spectrum. Because they are less saturated, pastels give off calm vibes that are particularly useful for exhausted parents trying to soothe a newborn.
Specialists also recommend introducing some bright colors to newborns, but avoid the sharpest colors when choosing a stuffy. Vibrant colors on playgrounds can stir excitement, but a nursery or play area may be better as a place of peaceful discovery. Because newborns are just starting to differentiate colors, pastels that are relatively bright – yet not glaring – can be the perfect way to split the difference.
Sizing is also an important part of the process when seeking the best stuffed animals for newborns. Babies are just beginning to learn how their hands operate in the later part of the newborn phase, but they need plenty of help to spur on their coordination. Some newborns might do well with very small stuffies, though medium or larger stuffed animals can help with engagement.
Consider Proportions of the Stuffed Animal to Maximize Playfulness
The color and size are a great starting point, but what else do you need in a stuffy to make it truly special? The proportions of a stuffy are a key part of its success with little ones, so make sure the proportions exude the cuddliness you're hoping to pass along.
A long time ago in a factory far, far away, toy makers thought realistic proportions were the way to go with stuffed animals (think of a teddy bear with a long snout). These days, parents should look for animals with more human-like proportions, making it much easier for a newborn to connect.
Animated features can also be great in a couple of ways. While newborns and babies love the goofiness of big floppy ears on a bunny, such features can help parents slide into silly mode. Cute tails, elephant trunks, and adorable paws can help a parent forge a connection with their newborn, giving it a voice and acting out playful scenarios while sweet baby giggles in delight.
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Silly playtime isn't just a way to get a parent through the day; it's a way to help children feel safe while inspiring creativity. While much of the research revolves around older children, the newborn phase is an ideal trial run for parents learning to engage with their baby. To help find the silly zone, it's helpful to imagine how the stuffy will be played with – not just how it looks and feels.
Interacting with a stuffed animal is also a sign that a newborn is entering the earliest phase of independent play. Newborns need plenty of encouragement in the beginning stages, but parents are planting seeds of self-efficiency.
Stuffed Animals for Newborns: The Best Gifts
Of course, the right stuffed animals make the perfect gift for any newborn, baby, or toddler. When thoughtfully chosen, they provide a sweet, cuddly object that will be a well-loved heirloom reminding baby and parent frequently of the gifter and their relationship. There are a few things to consider when choosing a stuffy as a gift:
- What is the nursery theme of the newborn? Is there an animal that will fit perfectly, even if the nursery is not an animal theme?
- What color scheme does the nursery use? What color stuffy would complement it and add to the atmosphere?
- Does the parent have a favorite animal that they’ll love sharing with their newborn?
While babies will grow to love any stuffy that’s been a friend since birth, considering these elements adds an additional level of depth that will increase the impact of the gift.
Find the Best Stuffed Animal for the Little Ones in Your Life
For a newborn, the right stuffy becomes a part of their closest family – a loved one nearly indistinguishable from a sibling or pet. They begin to play and learn with a stuffy while using it as an instrumental security blanket. The earliest memories can even stay with them for the rest of their lives.
That's why it's a good idea for a parent or loved one to shop thoughtfully when choosing a stuffed animal for a newborn. Combining adorable features with superb craftmanship is a way to ensure a newborn gets the most out of their new play partner. By using a stuffy to inspire creativity with a newborn, a parent can use the experience as a way to hone their own parental skill set while encouraging an unshakable bond.
Elegant Baby has been making cuddly toys for more than 50 years, with a focus on bringing high-quality stuffed animals that will pass the test of time. Contact us or check out our collection of plush toys to find the perfect companion for your newborn.