Stuffies and dolls are perennially popular educational toys that your kids should definitely be playing with. This desert island toy is so very useful for a child's development. 

Too often, stuffed animals are unfairly categorized as a just for fun kind of toy. Something to trip over on your kid's bedroom floor. Another thing your kid just wants but doesn't do anything but look cute. 

Well, that's just plain wrong, and here's why. 

Here are our top five reasons why stuffed animals and dolls are a toy box essential. 

1. Stuffies and dolls help kids develop their softer side - love, tenderness and compassion. 

One of the best things about them is their ability to enhance a kiddo's nurturing abilities and empathy. This is a big focus in education these days as raising children to become compassionate citizens is one of the most effective ways to elevate society. 

Kids will test drive emotions out on their special soft buddies. They may play out emotional exchanges they had with a loved one or friend on the playground. 

It's a big lesson to learn that we can bring comfort to others with how we act. Kiddos practice this on stuffies and dolls - consoling an "upset" doll or dressing their favourite teddy for bed. Our son loves to play vet and watching him tenderly care for an "injured" animal is absurdly heartwarming. 

Nurturing a stuffie is often a child's first chance to practice compassion. We all know the world needs more of that! 

2. They are a top dog when it comes to imaginative, open ended play. 

Today Teddy is a guest at a tea party. Tomorrow she's an enthusiastic audience member for your child's impromptu dance recital. The next day, an eager adventurist accompanying your kiddo on a grand exploration. 

We all want our kids to grow up with a healthy, active imagination. Creating stories and adventures with stuffed animals is not only fun for kids - it is essential brain building work that will serve them well in school and beyond. 

Who's going to solve all the complicated problems facing our children's generation? People with ingenuity. People who think creatively. People with strong imaginations who can problem solve with fresh thinking. I want my son to be one of those people, so I take imaginative play seriously. 

So, I happily trip over his stuffies on the bedroom floor. They are excellent learning tools and I'm grateful for them. 

3. Stuffies and dolls can comfort a child like no other toy. 

Stuffies and dolls are an always present, always supportive, always in their corner buddy for a child. I can't think of a better gift to give a kiddo than something that brings comfort and consolation during the most changeable time of their lives.

It's easy to forget how challenging growing up can be. Kids have a lot to overcome just to get bigger. Their bodies grow and expand faster than feels comfortable. They must learn to navigate friendships and family dynamics for the first time. They are always underprepared for the millions of new experiences they face every day (the dentist! a new food! a distant relative they've never met!). They experience visceral fear that can't be logically explained away. A cuddly buddy who's always ready with a hug is a priceless childhood companion. 

Plus, kids will often confide in a stuffie or doll secret thoughts they aren't ready to share with anyone else. A cuddly buddy is a perfect listener for whatever is on a child's mind. 

4. They top the charts of play value. 

I'm in my 40's and I still have my childhood doll. That's a lot of years of use! There aren't many toys you can have as a toddler that you can still play with as a seven year old. The way kids play with stuffies changes as they get older, but they are a wonderful toy for a broad range of ages. 

Babies will explore textures and practice grasping and holding. 

Toddlers will find comfort in and begin to nurture their stuffies. 

Preschoolers and early school years kiddos will create the most elaborate creative play scenarios you could ever imagine. 

Older kiddos will find pleasure in collecting only their very favourites and secretly draw comfort from them for many, many years (even if they'd never, ever admit it). 

5. They enhance language development. 

All that imaginative play fuels language development as kids work out story lines and have discussions with their fuzzy buddies. New vocabulary gets a test drive and questions often come up during these creative play sessions. Sometimes my son will say something like, "Boo is feeling overwhelmed. What does overwhelmed mean, mama?" He has an inkling what it means, but isn't sure so he tries it out with his stuffed rabbit and then checks in with me for more info. 

Stuffed animals help kids develop creativity, compassion and language skills. 

A squishy, cuddly toy can bring comfort and stability to a kid who feels uncertain or scared. 

A stuffed animal can be a confidant, travel buddy, pillow and an always enthusiastic playmate. 

Is it any wonder kids love stuffies and dolls so very much? 

 Explore our stuffed animals and dolls section and find a perfect buddy for a special little one. 


Tyler Quantz