Soft Toy Care
Soft toys are also known as plush toys, plushies or stuffed toys. They are essentially toys sewn from a textile, and stuffed with soft material and are mainly made of cloth or textiles like plush or terrycloth. Proper caring of soft toys will help keep them looking good and playable for a longer time.
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Comfort toys and gifts
Soft toys are usually stuffed with any of the following: soft synthetic fiber batting; cotton; straw or wood wool. Some may even have plastic pellets or beans as stuffing. Stuffed toys are made in many different forms but they most popularly resemble loveable, cuddly animals. Some are even made to resemble legendary creatures and cartoon characters. Soft toys are often used as comfort objects for babies and children.
These days, as the passion for novelty item flourish and grow, soft toys are also created for display or decorating purposes or as collectors’ items. They may even be given as gifts, popularly for Valentine’s Day or birthdays.
There is hardly a little child that does not appreciate a cuddly soft toy. In fact, most of us probably have fond memories of a favorite soft toy or two we cherished when we were young.
We have always considered soft toys as great play things for small children, as they can stretch their imaginations with little risk of ending up hurting themselves. Things may be a tad different now, though, as soft toys evolve with the times and become more detailed, carry more intricate features and are embellished with all sorts of buttons, studs, beads and what-nots.
Not surprisingly, there are also stringent warnings that apply to soft toys these days. There’s more awareness of safety and suitability, so when you’re looking for that perfect soft toy, there are a few essential things to look out for.
Soft toys and your little one
When choosing soft toys for babies and toddlers, ones made from cloth are always safer compared to wool, fake fur or hair. Babies and toddlers generally enjoy biting and sucking on toys, which makes fur, hair, wool and such a choking hazard! For the same reason, avoid soft toys with stick-on or sewed-on features which may easily come off and end up in little mouths.
Choose soft toys wisely!
- Ensure there are no small parts that can come off easily when bitten or chewed on. They may get trapped in a child’s throat or windpipe.
- Don’t take it for granted that a soft toy’s filling is always safe for children. The toy’s filling should be free of objects that may be harmful to a child. To be absolutely sure, hold the toy and feel it for any sharp objects.
- Soft toys made of foam may pose a choking danger if a child bites off pieces of it.
- When it comes to bean-bag style toys, ensure that the material used will not tear apart at the seams, thus allowing the beans to escape. Polystyrene beads are particularly hazardous as young children might inhale and choke on them.
- Soft toy seaming – Check to see if they are securely sewn, especially if synthetic material like nylon thread has been used to sew the toy together. Long and loose pieces of thread on a stuffed toy may not only pose a choking hazard but may cause strangulation too.
Conduct regular checks on soft toys
Check toys regularly to make sure any accessories or small parts remain securely attached so that children are safe from choking hazards. If seams split, re-sew them straight away or else, dispose of the toy. Do not leave faulty toys around as children could swallow and choke on the contents.
DIY Soft toy dry cleaning
You Will Need:
- Plastic garbage bag
- Baking soda
- Vacuum cleaner with hose
- Soft-bristle brush
- Pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda into an appropriate size plastic garbage bag. If you are cleaning an oversized soft toy, add a full cup or more of baking soda to ensure adequate coverage.
- Place the toy into the plastic bag and let the object rest in the bottom. Squeeze excess air out of the bag, but leave just enough room so that the stuffed toy can freely move around and tumble when you shake the bag.
- Twist and tie the top of the plastic bag. You may use a twist-tie to close off the bag.
- Pick up the bag by sliding your left hand under the bottom and using your right hand to grab the top. Shake and tumble the bag, gently, using an up-and-down, and circular left-to-right motion, for a couple of minutes. Be careful not to puncture the bag if the stuffed toy has a hard object attached to the material.
- Keep the stuffed toy inside the enclosed bag for 15 more minutes. The baking soda will work to deodorize the toy and also will bind and liberate dirt and grime from the fabric.
- Open the bag and shake excess baking soda off. Discard the bag at once in the trash.
- Remove residue of dry cleaning, which includes dirt and grime, from the stuffed toy using a vacuum cleaner.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to brush away caked-on baking soda and dirt. Gently do a ‘shake and pat’ action on the soft toy with your hands over the trash can to liberate any remaining baking soda residue.
- Let the soft toy air out for at least an hour before letting your child play with it again.