One day your child receives a soft toy as a gift. The plush is cute and soft, so you are not at all surprised when your child happily accepts this gift. Although you have many other soft toys in the house, over the next couple of weeks you begin to notice that this particular one has slowly become your child’s constant companion. The other soft toys are still used for play, but this is the one your baby just wants to hold close, cuddle and be tucked into before bed. Your son has found a love!

A safety or transitional item can be a wonderful part of childhood – many adults have fond memories of the comfort a special stuffed animal provided them as they grew up. The attachment that a child feels for a loved one means that the loss of this object can be extremely painful, for both the child and the parents.

There are a few steps you can take to minimize the risk of your child’s special soft toy being lost and to increase the chances of being able to provide an identical replacement if the item is lost. The most important thing is to take these steps as soon as you notice that your child has chosen a love.

1. Establish the rule that your loved one cannot leave the house – this alone will greatly reduce the chances of them getting lost. Let your child choose a different stuffed toy to take to the nursery or shop with the firm explanation that the loved one needs to stay at home. Some children like to make a routine of putting their love in a window to “watch” them come home, or putting their love in a special spot on a shelf so they can easily find it when they get home.

2. Label what a love! Despite your best efforts, the stuffed animal will likely get carried out of the house at some point, so you want it to be tagged in some way. Some parents simply write their mobile number on the stuffed animal’s tag, along with the words “if found, please call ..” Be careful not to put too much information on the toy: for safety reasons, no information other than a mobile phone must include a generic phone number or email address, and it is important to ensure that any labeling method you choose is completely safe for your child.

3. Buy a backup (or two)! The reason people have such a hard time finding replacement love is that a line of stuffed toys is generally only sold for a short time before being pulled back to make way for new designs. The longer a stuffed animal has been off store shelves, the harder it will be to find one for purchase. If the stuffed animal you are looking for has recently been retired, you may find one by talking to the managers of the retail stores who previously sold the item. Sometimes they will be willing to check to see if they still have extra stock in the back. A call to the company that made the soft toy can yield results in the form of information on where the item can still be purchased or even an opportunity to get the soft toy directly from the company.

4. Know the details! I’ve talked to parents who are desperately looking for a replacement for a loved one, but don’t know the brand or any other information that would allow me to help them. Take a minute and write down the brand, the store it was purchased from, the year, a model number, just about any identifying information, and then store this card in a safe place. If you need it, you will be happy to have it!

5. Take pictures! Take some pictures of the loved one alone. These can be useful to have if your loved one goes missing, either so other people can keep an eye on the stuffed animal or to help you find an identical one for purchase.

Following these simple steps can reduce the chances of a special soft toy being lost and increase the chances of a lost love being found!

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