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Choosing safe stuffed toys is an important way to protect your baby.
Look for stuffed toys that are made of washable, flame resistant, nontoxic materials.
Ensure the toy is free of strings, removable parts, and other choking hazards.
Select a toy that is approved for your baby’s age group, and always supervise your baby as they play with safe stuffed toys.
Giving the Toy a Once-Over
Ensure the toys do not have long strings.
Babies are liable to wrap long strings and cords around their necks and choke.
They might also swallow the string and choke.
To avoid these unhappy outcomes, take a good look at the stuffed toy you’re considering giving your baby.
Check the back of the toy for pull strings that might make the stuffed toy say something.
Ensure the toys do not have removable parts.
Removable parts are more common on sturdier plastic toys and action figures.
But stuffed toys often come with removable accessories like cups or glasses that might detach with Velcro, for instance.
Some toys even have special tags or price tags on them, which could be dangerous to your baby.
Cut off these tags and any plastic or string holding them on.
Give the toy a thorough investigation for parts that are removable or could break off and pose a choking hazard.
Some stuffed toys have parts that seem irremovable, but actually are.
For instance, stuffed toys with marble or glass eyes, or button noses, are considered unsafe for babies.
If bits ever break off a stuffed toy, do not try to repair it.
Instead, return the toy to the store and get a safer stuffed toy.
Do not attempt to get a replacement.
Be careful when giving a stuffed toy with batteries.
Batteries are a serious choking hazard for babies.
If your baby wants a stuffed toy with batteries, ensure that the batteries are secured by a panel that must be unscrewed in order to remove the batteries.
Do not give your child a stuffed toy with a battery panel that simply snaps open.
While it is unlikely your baby would be able to open the battery panel, it’s not a risk worth taking.
If your baby’s stuffed toy lights up, dances, or engages in some other sort of action, it is powered by batteries.
You can also identify battery-operated toys by the label on the packaging that reads “battery operated.”
Check battery-operated stuffed toys for leaking battery acid from time to time.
Battery acid will leave behind a crusty, discolored area inside the battery panel.
It might be brown or white in color.
Discard any batteries that leak battery acid, clean out the toy’s battery panel, and insert fresh batteries.
Avoid toys with sharp points.
Even stuffed or semi-stuffed toys sometimes have sharp bits on them.
For instance, do not give your child a stuffed goat with plastic horns protruding from its head.
Your baby might jam the pointed horn in their eye.
Such an injury may impair their vision.
Even soft, stuffed bits of a toy should be treated with suspicion.
Avoid any stuffed toy that has sharp points.
Ensure the toy is of high quality.
When examining stuffed toys for safety, give a gentle tug along their seams.
If you sense that the toy is shoddily sewn, do not buy it.
Instead, look for stuffed toys that are durable and will not easily tear or rip.
Low-quality stuffed toys are unsafe for babies.
If they rip open and spill their soft stuffing, your baby might eat it and choke.
Select stuffed toys that can withstand chewing and similar abuse.
Choose lightweight stuffed toys.
Avoid, for instance, giving your baby the giant stuffed gorilla you won at the fair.
Stuffed toys that are too large and/or heavy are unsafe for baby.
If a heavy stuffed toy fell, it could easily smother your baby.
Follow age guidelines.
Safe stuffed toys will include a label that informs parents about how old a child needs to be to use the particular toy.
For instance, you might encounter a stuffed toy with a package that reads, “For children 2 and up.”
This means that children younger than two years old should not play with that stuffed toy.
In this case, if your child is younger than two, search for a safer stuffed toy.[
Do not choose old toys.
If an older relative offers to provide you with an older stuffed toy, graciously reject the offer.
Older stuffed toys might not meet current safety standards, and without the original packaging you’ll likely have no way of knowing.
Plus, as hand-me-downs, they might be worn and more likely to break open at the seams.
Selecting the Right Materials
Choose washable materials.
After regular use, your baby’s safe stuffed toys will be quite grimy.
When choosing safe stuffed toys for your baby, you must ensure that you will be able to keep them clean.
Check the care label or back of the box that stuffed toy is packaged in for info about the material the toy is made of.
Avoid buying stuffed toys that cannot be washed.
Toys that are not washable (or not washed) collect germs and bacteria.
This presents an unsafe situation for baby.
Buy nontoxic stuffed toys.
Since your baby will surely put the stuffed toy in their mouth and handle it endlessly, you must provide your baby with nontoxic stuffed toys.
You can check the manufacturer box for information about what ingredients went into a particular stuffed toy, but to be safe, you should buy stuffed toys from a distributor that only offers toys with natural materials.
For instance, you might buy a toy from Nature’s Crib, The Soft Landing, Under the Nile, or Mama’s Earth.
The best stuffed toys are made of organic hemp, wool, and cotton.
Avoid stuffed toys made of materials that were exposed to pesticides, artificial dyes, finishes, and fertilizers.
Ensure the stuffed toy is flame resistant.
While checking the care label or the box the stuffed toy is packaged in, look for confirmation that the toy is “flame resistant” or “flame retardant.”
This means that the toy will not catch fire easily.
Stuffed toys that catch fire easily are not safe for babies.
Identifying Stuffed Toys Your Baby Will Love
Give your baby a stuffed ball. Babies enjoy watching balls roll around.
Your baby can learn to roll the ball themselves, or roll it back and forth with a baby buddy.
You and your baby will have hours of fun rolling the ball back and forth across a clean, soft surface.
Give your baby a soft doll.
Your baby will have great fun with a stuffed doll.
The stuffed doll could be a boy or a girl.
It could represent a police officer, fire fighter, astronaut, or some other occupation.
You could even give your baby two dolls to double the fun.
Give your baby a stuffed animal.
With a stuffed animal in hand, your baby will begin learning all about the world of animals.
You might, for instance, give your baby a stuffed monkey, cow, or pig.
Teach your baby the appropriate sounds that the animal makes.
For example, if you gave your baby a stuffed pig, say to your baby,
“This is a pig. It makes a sound.
The sound it makes is ‘oink oink.’”
Give your baby stuffed blocks.
Stuffed blocks are, like normal blocks, approximately cube-shaped objects that can be stacked and played with.
You might, for instance, encourage your baby to build a wall with their stuffed blocks.
You could also use the stuffed blocks to help your baby understand colors.
For instance, you might take all the red stuffed blocks and pile them together.
Point to the stuffed blocks and say, “These blocks are red.” Continue this pattern with other colors.
Keeping Baby Safe at Playtime
Supervise your baby.
Babies are very creative.
Your baby may find a way to hurt themselves or get into mischief with even the safest of stuffed toys.
For that reason, it’s important to always monitor your child while they are playing with the safe stuffed toy and never leave them alone in their crib with a stuffed toy.
Don’t leave your baby alone even for a moment while they are playing.
Wash your baby’s safe stuffed toys
Babies love to sneeze and slobber on things, including their toys.
Safe stuffed toys get yucky after regular use.
Wash your baby’s stuffed toys regularly according to manufacturer directions.
Wash any safe stuffed toys that fall on the floor or are visibly soiled.
Most stuffed toys have a care tag attached to them that provides information about washing and drying.
Read the information included on the tag to wash the toy appropriately.
Help your baby put their safe stuffed toys away.
If your baby leaves safe stuffed toys lying about, the toys might cause others to trip or fall.
Help your baby learn from an early age where toys belong once they are no longer being played with.
For instance, when your child is finished playing with its safe stuffed toys, say, “It’s cleanup time.
Let’s put away our toys in the bin.” Place a safe stuffed toy in the toy chest.
If your baby can walk, encourage your baby to do the same.
Store the safe stuffed toys in a lidless chest.
If your baby has a toy chest with a heavy lid, they might accidentally slam it down on their tiny head or hands and hurt themselves.
In order to avoid this misfortune, choose a chest without a lid.
This also makes the safe stuffed toys more accessible to your baby.
Do not allow baby to take a safe stuffed toy to bed.
Unless your baby is no longer sleeping in its crib, no stuffed toy is safe in bed with your baby.
With a safe stuffed toy in bed, your baby is at greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).