by Yu Qing
Children begin playing as soon as they're born. Toys pique their interest and can even help them develop sensory perception, motor skills and their imagination. There are lots of options in stuffed toys, and it is important to find stuffed toys that are the best for the age of your child.
Newborn to 6 months: Newborn babies have little strength in their hands, so look for toys they don't have to hold. Instead, find plush toys that make noise or blink with lights to get the baby's attention. Another option is to purchase puppets for adults to use to play with the baby. The fabric on plush stuffed toys should be safe for babies who are mouthing. For example, look for animals with short rather than long fur.
Six months to 1 year: At ages six months to 1 year, babies become more active. They begin to hold things, so purchase plush toys that are soft and light for them to handle.
1 to 2 years: Children begin to explore when they reach 1 to 2 years of age. They may want to mimic adult activities with dolls or stuffed animals. Purchase several, different stuffed animals to begin teaching your 1- or 2-year-old about animals. You can even show them how to care for their pretend pets to develop their nurturing instinct.
2 to 3 years: At ages 2 to 3 years, children are less prone to putting things in their mouths. You can purchase stuffed toys with long-pile fur. They also begin to develop hand-eye coordination. Help them develop these skills with hand puppets or interactive stuffed toys. For example, purchase a stuffed doll for a 3-year-old girl, and she can learn how to brush her hair and change her clothes.
3 to 6 years: From ages 3 to 6, children begin making associations. They will begin naming their favorite stuffed toys. One idea is to buy stuffed animals from their favorite cartoons. Your child will be thrilled to play with a character he sees on television.