We’re asked this question every year — mostly by grandparents and aunt/uncles that want to do the right thing. A soft huggable bear that can say whatever your child wants it to say is a great gift! For kids under three you need to be sure that the bear in question is age graded for all ages. Eyes need to be anchored and ribbons need to be absolutely secure. Fuzzy bears are not great for kids that still mouth their toys – you don’t want your child to get a hairball of bear fuzz. We’re not big on “teaching bears” that are meant for practicing zipping, buttoning and tying –these skills are better learned with real clothes and shoes!
Each year we have a Bear of the Year…this year it is Mary Meyer’s Big Ben Bear. Last year’s over-sized Creamy Bear (also from Mary Meyer) is the first thing every child goes to and hugs when they visit our office!
At our house we are huge fans of Gund’s Blue Chip Snuffles (technically a polar bear). My older son received his first Snuffles on his first birthday–over the years we had an entire family of polar bears that had their own language and own tv show. The dramatic play of the polar bears became a nightly ritual for my boys.