Why Playing With Plush Toys Is Vital In Child Development

Little children are fond of plushies and soft toys. These cuddly companions are indeed lovely to be around; even adults find them cute. However, did you know that soft plush toys have a role in helping a child's development? Here are some of the ways they do! 

Plush Toys Provide Comfort To Babies

Stuffed animals ease a child's anxiety. A wooden teether with a plushie holder, for example, can soothe a distressed infant. Even older children feel comforted by a favorite stuffed animal since these toys are familiar and reassuring.

Providing children a sense of normalcy and giving them anchors like stuffed animals and plushies help them build self-soothing capabilities. This skill is vital and helps them establish their independence, which is valuable, especially when they encounter life events like having a new sibling or going to daycare for the first time. Cuddling a stuffed animal is good practice for helping children get used to comforting themselves.

Plush Toys Help Children Develop Social Skills

At around 12 to 18 months old, children start learning fundamental social skills. Stuffed animals encourage them to build these skills, and stuffed animals and dolls help them mimic everyday activities. For example, they can feed a doll or pretend that a stuffed elephant is drinking from a bottle. Though this looks like play, it helps children use their imagination and put themselves in their toys' shoes, an essential part of empathy.

Role-playing with stuffed animals lets them transition into pretend play with other children, which is the next social development milestone for a child. Interactions like these help them build the confidence to speak to other people in the future.

Plush Toys Improve Language Skills

Pretend play encourages children to develop speech and language as well. When a child acts out scenes, he usually talks through the situations. Whether his favorite is a bunny stuffed animal or a lion plushie, acting out a story using toys is an excellent way to practice communication skills. Babies also develop linguistically through pretend play. For example, a babbling infant will "talk" back to a stuffed animal if you respond through it when the baby is babbling. This interaction teaches them about turn-taking.

Plush Toys Help Children Grow Up Kind

Caring for plushies nurtures a child's desire to connect and take care of others. Children learn how to appreciate their relationships with people and animals around them when they play with toys because they have a physical, external reference point.

When a child engages in play acting, especially in caring for a stuffed animal, they get to cultivate the desire to nurture others. Even among older, school-age children, toys can help them situate their feelings and identify the best way to act in a situation. For example, a classroom of seven-year-olds can learn how to interact with a new student if the teacher play-acts the situation with stuffed animals and asks the students what they should do given certain scenarios.


A stuffed animal can look like a mere toy to an adult, but it is much more than that to a child. Aside from being a companion, a child's plush toy helps him make sense of the world around him and develop into a well-adjusted adult. Encouraging children to play with plush toys will help them develop social skills they will use in the years to come.

For soft plush toys for babies and children, shop at O.B Designs today. We have various ethically made gender-neutral gifts for infants, toddlers, and children of all ages. Browse our catalog to find the perfect plushie for your child, or get in touch with us to learn more.