A cute and cuddly stuffed animal, like the ones sold at Toys R Us and FAO Schwarz are the perfect item to give a newborn child to create a lifelong friend. Beyond just being soft and tender, these toys go far beyond just a friend for nap time. There are many developmental milestones that a stuffed animal can help your child achieve. Here's how.

Why a Stuffed Animal?

There are so many reasons why a stuffed animal is the perfect toy to introduce to your child at birth. A major reason is the safety features. Unlike many toys marketed to children, a stuffed animal with fabric eyes (not sewn-on plastic ones) does not have any removable parts, and therefore does not pose a choke hazard. As most stuffed animals are made of breathable fabrics, they present a very low suffocation risk. This is about the safest toy you can leave with your young child. For this reason alone, it makes since that your child will develop a close bond with their very first friend.

Say Bye Bye to the Binky

As your child continues to grow and becomes ready to stop using his or her pacifier, you'll find that your child's stuffed animal can be a major help to you. Begin substituting use of the pacifier by offering your child her favorite stuffed toy for soothing instead. Place the stuffed animal in her arms to sleep, and you'll slowly teach your baby that the stuffed toy is just as soothing as the old pacifier.

Imagine That

Another benefit to a stuffed toy is the imaginative play it will inspire. Many of the children's toys on the market today are so full of lights and sounds and story telling effects, that your child has to use very little imagination to play with those toys. With a stuffed animal, your child will be encouraged to use his imagination to create a story. Your child will learn story telling skills as well as basic communication skills by interacting with his favorite stuffed friend.

No Batteries, No Problem

Your child's stuffed toy will never run out of power. A basic and often overlooked benefit to choosing a stuffed toy as your child's first friend is that the only care it will ever need is a run through your washing machine. The toy can handle all elements of heat and cold as well as the physical abuse children can inflict on their toys.

What Kind of Stuffed Toy to Choose

Consider safety first when choosing your child's first stuffed toy. Make sure there are no plastic parts or removable parts that can pose chocking hazards. You'll also want to choose a toy that is easily washable and made of a breathable fabric. Once you've considered these possibilities, the choice becomes one of personal preference. You can choose any animal or toy that suits your fancy. Keep in mind that young babies prefer color contrast as opposed to light pastel colors. Once a child is about 6 months old and their eyesight is fully developed, you can introduce a lightly colored toy if you'd like.