From the dawn of child’s play, there has been one toy that has stood out among the rest: the stuffed animal. Kids everywhere go nuts for these soft, stuffed creatures.
In a study published by Time Magazine, which listed the most popular toys by decade throughout the past century, the one toy that appeared in almost every decade was – you guess it – a stuffed animal. The 1980s saw a sustained interest in stuffed animals, from regular stuffable animals and trademarked television show animals to wild animals and domestic pets. There is no doubt about it; children love stuffed animals.
But what is it about stuffed animals that is so appealing? Is it their likeness to real animals that makes us to cuddle them? Is it our instilled sense of nurturing that tells us we should cradle our stuffed animals, treat them as if they were real and care for them like no other?
Perhaps it’s because real pets – or wild animals brought down to stuffed animal proportions – would never stand for constant petting, cradling, poking, prodding and toting. By caring for our stuffed animals, we get a chance to know what it would be like to care for a rhino, lion, buffalo , monkey or other beast.
Most children have very little control over their day-to-day matters. So when a child plays with a stuffed animal, they are often all too happy to assign roles, play boss, make up scenarios and be in charge. Through interaction with a stuffed animal – something that never talks back, or acts controlling – a child is learning how to work through life situations, find comfort, grow and develop.
For something that is typically just, stuffing and stitches, a stuffed animal might be the best thing every made. It’s a soft, comforting toy that can teach life skills and create lasting bonds and memories for children.