If you have a toddler or preschooler, they probably have grown attached to one particular stuffed animal or blanket.  These often well-worn “lovies”  become such important touchstones, that we often recommend you have a backup.  With my younger son, we spent hours scouring toy and gift stores for exactly the same Simba doll that sadly went missing at the park.  Even at two, he knew the difference.

I’m always curious about how this relationship develops. With our older son Adam, we even have a photo of the first encounter. adamfirst065From the moment he hugged his first Gund Snuffles at his first birthday party, it was love.  Even though he couldn’t talk yet, this particular bear became his constant companion and eventually  would become the Mama bear to  a family of smaller Snuffles.  The original bear’s nose was so thread bare that we had to do a midnight exchange.  (My mother was afraid that he would literally bite off his nose! )  Even as he got much older and welcomed a new brother–who of course had to have his own family of bears–this lovey remained in an honored position.

One of the great pleasures of the evening was to eavesdrop on the elaborate stories both boys would weave about their polar bears. They each had silly names, their own language and as a nod to the world they live in, they had their own Polar Bear TV Network–with lots of different programs.

Of course I still highly recommend Gund’s Snuffles. He is an institution in our house.  A nearby children’s store always had a wonderful display of snuffles during the holidays..and since my kids rarely went to toy stores, it was extremely special for them to actually go buy a new bear to add to their growing family.

Here are some other choices that may invite such relationships:

1. North American Bear’s Collection of Flatsos.  Take your pick, there are pink Elephants, Blue Hippos, Green Frogs…each come in a variety of sizes and are fantastically floppy and deliciously huggable.


2. Kids Preferred Asthma Friendly Puppy Dog is also very sweet and huggable. 

3. Blabla dolls. I’m in love with this collection of dolls and animals. Pricey but very special.

4. Joobles. Deliciously soft and friendly…happily gender neutral. 

Teddy Bears – Still a good gift?

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.