A toy whose outer surface is made with textile fabric and stuffed with flexible material is called a soft toy. They are also known as plushies, stuffed animals, plush toys, or stuffies. They are called soft toys or cuddly toys in Britain and Australia. Textiles are used as fabric for the outer covering they include plain cloth, as well as pile textiles like plush or terrycloth, or even socks. The most widely used stuffing materials are synthetic fiber, cotton, straw, wood wool, plastic pellets, and beans.
Soft toys are available in various shapes and forms and they usually resemble real animals, legendary creatures, cartoon characters. They are used as toys for children and also for display purposes. They are also given as gifts on various occasions like birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s day. Soft toys are different as compared to other toys in terms of their softness, flexibility, and depiction of animal or fictional characters. Soft toys mainly resemble animals like bears, cats, and dogs. They also take the form of fictional or real characters.
Soft toys are available in different sizes, colors, and fur textures. They are normally sold at stores tourist attractions, airports, carnivals, fairs and places frequented by children.
The first company to create soft toys on a commercial scale was the German company Steiff in 1880. They used new technology for manufacturing the upholstery to make their soft toys. The soft toy Ithaca Kitty was one of the first soft toys to be produced on a large scale in the year 1892 in the USA. In the year 1903 Richard Steiff designed a soft stuffed bear made of plush fur-like fabric. Morris Michtom created the first teddy bear inspired by a drawing of President Roosevelt with a bear cub in the USA. The first soft toy patented was the character Peter Rabbit from English author Beatrix Potter in the year 1903.
Babies love to touch and play with new textures, using with their mouths and soft toys can provide the perfect platform for developing their sensory skills and emotional and social upbringing. It also helps babies to distinguish between the different colors, sizes, and textures of the world around them. As babies instinctively use their mouths to explore new object care should be taken while selecting the soft toys so that they are no loose fibers present as they pose a choking threat to the babies. The warmth of a soft toy provides comfort and security to children when they are tired or facing a new challenge. It also helps to overcome separation anxiety. Soft toys are also helpful in kindling the creative instincts of children. They are also useful in helping the child in terms of bonding. The benefits of soft toys are not restricted to babies and toddlers. They are also helpful in adults in overcoming stress and anxiety. Studies have shown cuddling a soft toy helps to calm and soothe a baby because it releases the hormone oxytocin.