A stuffed animal is usually your child’s first trusted confidant—after you, of course. Stuffed furry friends can act as security blankets to improve their mood or offer protection in a time of need. As children grow up and move beyond specific phases, their stuffed animals might end up on a shelf.
However, you may have special feelings for that stuffed animal because it reminds you of your little one. Learning how to make your child’s stuffed animal a treasured keepsake will allow you to keep a piece of their childhood and fill your heart with joy.
Preserving an Animal
Since your child has played with their favorite stuffed animal for years, it probably isn’t in the best condition. Slight rips and tears are common with well-loved stuffed animals, so it’s a good idea to repair those imperfections before you clean and store them.
Fix Any Rips
Sewing up your child’s little cuddly pal is not arduous. With a needle in hand, you’ll want to get a thread identical to the animal’s color and start at the end of the rip. The process isn’t much different from fixing a tear in your favorite article of clothing; if you have experience doing that, this shouldn’t take long. Small, neat stitches made in a straight line should preserve the animal well enough.
Don’t forget to strengthen any bows, eyes, or other features sewn onto the stuffed animal. With all the roughhousing and cuddling the toy has gone through, it’s unlikely it came away unscathed.
Dirt and grime accumulate on the stuffed animal, especially if it accompanies your child on outdoor adventures. But removing excess muck is possible with a good vacuuming. If the animal is small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, you can hold it as you take the vacuum nozzle to it. If the item is larger, you might as well take a collection of your child’s stuffed animals in addition to their prized possession and put them in a large trash bag.
Place the nozzle of your vacuum into the bag and hold the edges to create a seal around the nozzle. When you turn on the vacuum cleaner, it should collect all the dust and loose debris on the animals. After completing this step, you may have to fluff the animals since the vacuum could alter their appearance in some fashion.
Now that you have primped and pampered your child’s stuffed companions, you can give them a thorough washing, assuming they aren’t tattered enough that they’ll fall apart if you do. A label on the animal should indicate the appropriate cleaning method.
If the label states that the animal is machine washable, you can place it in a mesh laundry bag and select the delicate setting on your machine. You should only use cold water and mild detergent, or it may not look the same after washing.
The hand-washing route requires you to fill a sink with cold water and a hint of the same mild laundry detergent. Immersing the animal in the filled sink should remove any caked-on dirt. Once you’re satisfied with its appearance, rinse it well to clear away the detergent.
The baking soda method will have you put an animal in a pillow case or large plastic bag. Depending on the animal’s size, you’ll want to use 15–60 grams of baking soda to give the whole thing a light coating. Seal the case or bag shut, give it a good shake, and let the stuffie sit for 30 minutes. Finally, use a damp rag to remove any remaining dirt or excess baking soda.
Let It Dry
After the bath, you’ll need to dry the toy. Gently wrap the animal in a soft towel and reshape it if some stuffing gets moved around. There are three ways you can go about drying a stuffed animal:
- Put it with towels or blankets in the dryer on a low-heat setting. The blankets give the animal an added layer of protection.
- Hang it out to dry and let the sun do the work for you. This is the safest decision you can make for your animal.
- Place it on a dry towel inside. The only thing you’ll need to do is flip the animal after a while to ensure air is reaching all parts of it.
Wrap & Transfer
The process of preserving your child’s precious keepsake is almost complete. Wrapping the toy will keep it in the same condition as you left it if it will be in storage for an extended period. Acid-free paper is the best wrapping material, particularly for antique toys.
Placing wrapped stuffed animals in plastic totes means you stack bins on top of each other without compromising the toys within. Plus, the totes allow for adequate airflow and keep curious creatures from inspecting them. Avoid any location that experiences moisture to reduce the risk of items gathering mold or mildew.
Putting Them on Display
Cleaning and storing your child’s stuffed animal collection doesn’t mean you have to tuck them away forever. But it does give you time to think about what you want to do with them without the toys cluttering the house. There are a few ways you can proudly display your child’s stuffed animals in an organized fashion.
Bookshelves aren’t just for keeping books in a child’s room. You can utilize a bookshelf as an extra storage space to showcase your favorite stuffies. If you decide that bookshelves are the way to go, keep your child’s favorites on the lower levels so they can easily access them. And remember to clean and rearranges the toys frequently to prevent allergens from building up on them. Other methods for putting stuffed animals on display include using a toy cage, a toy chest, or hanging organizers.
Finding a New Purpose
Keeping a stuffed animal’s original form makes the most sense for many people, but not so much for the crafty type of person. Repurposing beloved stuffed toys is a wonderful way to create something useful while keeping them nearby.
Your child may be old enough that cuddling with a stuffed animal is no longer for them, although jumping on and sitting in a beanbag chair most certainly is. You can easily turn that beanbag chair into a stuffed animal chair by replacing the beans with stuffed animals. This way, you’ll end up with a new piece of furniture while keeping the animals contained.
You could also make a cushion or pillow out of an old stuffed animal by evenly distributing the stuffing in a new pillow or cushion form. Or you can keep the spirit of their stuffed animal alive by making an article of clothing with it. A scarf is one of the easiest and most creative ways to upcycle a stuffed animal for your child.
Understanding how to make your child’s stuffed animal a treasured keepsake is better than just throwing it in a dark closet corner. Bunnies by the Bay knows you will want to keep our personalized baby gifts close to the hearts of you and your children.