There are of course plenty of different types of soft toys available for kids of all ages. Broadly speaking you will be looking at two categories thereof – on the one hand you have the educational toys, and on the other hand there will be the “classic” soft toys, the comforting toys like teddy bears and plush animals. Both the learning and classic varieties have their own place in the nursery and both will deliver their own styles of fun and entertainment.
Educational toys are ideal for encouraging questing minds to start exploring the world around them. As far as types of soft toys go, educational toys tend either to be things like finger puppets and glove puppets, or sets of toys that illustrate a certain thing about the world, like a pack of farm animals or jungle animals. A puppet can actually help to awaken a child’s interest in the world around it – the colourful animal or character on the hand or on the finger can be used as a “teacher”, pointing things out to the child on a walk or in the nursery.
Classic types of soft toys perform two basic functions in the life of a child. First, they give the child what is probably its first experience of an attachment to something other than its mother and father (or of course its father and father, or its mother and its other mother). This is an extremely important thing for a child to learn. An attachment to a soft toy is a natural and healthy way of starting to learn that there are other things in the world to which one can become attached. In other words, that one is able to make friends.
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Second then, the classic types of soft toys also encourage a child to start using its imagination. The child that starts to play with his or her toys regularly, and to give them imaginary personalities, or to take them on wild adventures, is a child learning to use his or her brain to make imaginative links between his or her internal world and the world outside. An active imagination is well reputed to be a sign of a healthy mind – so making sure that your child has access to the toys that are often his or her first outlet into the world of the mind is an important part of parenting.
There is of course one other attribute that all types of soft toys share. They are soft. This means that they are completely safe to give to even very young children. There is nothing about a soft toy that can cut or bruise or in other ways cause harm to a child and so parents can safely leave them to play with them, or to keep them in bed at night for a feeling of security and warmth. The only caution one might give is for parents of children still young enough to sleep in cots to take the cuddly toys away at night to prevent suffocation.