I’ve spent the past 3+ years buying toys for my children. My daughter has close to 50 stuffed animals, along with my son who also has a growing collection. Not to mention, we’ve filled up at least 7 or more tubs full of toys over the years.
Whether it’s Christmas, birthdays, or Easter, the piles of stuffed animals continue to grow. This is why I’m fairly confident that I’m nearing expert Dad status with choosing “safe” stuffed animals and other toys for my kids. Let me explain what I look for and how you can also start feeling more confident with picking out stuffed animals for your own children.
Early on, I figured out that child warnings on toys are a bit silly, in my opinion. Of course, everyone understands the choking hazards from extremely tiny pieces that come with some toys. However, you’ll find stuffed animals that have a tag saying “Choking hazard, don’t use without parental supervision”. The toy itself might be a stuffed bear, two arms, two legs, a head, nothing to pull off, no moving parts – get the picture? My guess is that some group somewhere is covering any possible problem with their product – avoiding lawsuits.
Is this helpful to parents? I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t help me at all. If every single toy warns of choking hazards, the notice becomes useless when you’re picking out baby toys. How are parents supposed to decide if everything has a warning on it?
Trust your gut – that’s my strategy. As parents, we have ingrained decision making skills that we often underestimate. Nowadays, pop-psychology and mainstreaming child-rearing has many parents questioning how they raise their children. If you’re questioning your parenting ability, my best advice is the following. Remember that you’re the product of parents. You used to be a child. You survived your childhood as a result of parenting. In the process, you learned skills that will help you raise your own children.
With that said, let’s talk about plush or stuffed toys once more. Stuffed toys are largely safe in my experience. My son sleeps with his Jedi bear that we had made at Build-a-Bear. My daughter sleeps with her 4 princesses. We’ve never had an inkling of a problem with this arrangement.
Before I forget, I should also touch upon over-sized toys. Of course common sense tells us that an over-sized stuffed animal in your child’s crib is a bad idea. Again, seeing the danger in an over-sized plush in your child’s crib is something you figure out with your parental “gut”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or 5 paragraph long tag-warning to determine the danger with a stuffed animal that is 10 times your child’s size.
Now go forward, use your parental gut, and trust your best judgement in making decisions for your child.