As much as we love stuffed animals, we have to admit that there are some health risks involved. We set out to explore them and see how to deal with them.
Generally stuffed animals are great for both kids and adults. As we have said a few times before, stuffies can help with depression, can relieve stress and can even help children cope with crime. But they also have their not so great sides. They can be a magnet for dust mites or cause an issue with your allergies.
But those are small problems that, as you can see, can be solved easily. But sadly there are some other risks that are much more serious. It’s not that much because of the materials or something like that. It’s more closer to hazards that can be caused out of parental negligence or simply not realizing that there is indeed such a risk.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
We are talking about the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It sounds pretty scary and it is. In short, it is not really known what causes it. Scientists theorize it may have t o do with stuffed animals and other soft toys being left in the crib surrounding the baby which leads to the build up of a carbon dioxide pool around the baby which interferes with his or hers breathing.
Again, it is a theory and it is not yet really known what causes it. There are several factors that can increase the risk though. One is if the mother has been smoking during pregnancy. Genetics also plays a role in SIDS.
So, what can you do to minimze the risk? The obvious one is not to keep stuffed animals in the crib while the baby sleeps. Or if the baby loves a stuffie too much, keep only it in the crib and remove it after the baby falls asleep.
Excessive bedding, clothing and soft sleep surfaces also accumulate the risk. Sharing the bed with parents or siblings also increases risk. Bumper pads are also not recommended. The greatest risk is during the first three months.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “room-sharing without bed-sharing”, stating that such an arrangement can decrease the risk of SIDS by up to 50%. Furthermore, the Academy recommended against devices marketed to make bed-sharing “safe”, such as in-bed co-sleepers.
Stuffed animals can also become a choking hazard for small children.Toddlers can rip out plastic eyes, buttons and so on and try to eat them. Or if a stuffie is too big for the baby it may fall on him or her and suffocate.
How to avoid. Don’t leave children unattended when playing with stuffed animals that have plastic eyes, noses, buttons or other accessories. Instead get them stuffies that have embroided eyes and no acessories on them. Check the toys often for any ripped seams or other issues and repair them promptly.
Don’t leave toddlers and babies unattended when playing with large stuffed animals. When not supervised they should only play with stuffies that are much smaller than them so they can carry and handle them with ease.
These are the more serious health risks that may come with stuffed animals. As you can see, they can easily be avoided if you pay attention to your child. Have fun and stay safe!