Stuffed Animal Fun
How to convince a child to switch from an old beloved stuffed animal to a new (cleaner!) one
Because stuffed animals can become such a central part of a child's life, it can be extremely painful for a parent or guardian to have to take an old stuffed animal away. Remember the lesson of the stuffed animal Velveteen Rabbit! If there's any way to avoid having to dispose of a child's old and loved stuffed animal, I urge you to try it first. However, if you find yourself with a dangerously disgusting stuffed animal, or a stuffed animal whose stuffing is oozing out and beyond repair, here are some ideas on how to make the stuffed animal transition as painless as possible.
New stuffed animal
The first thing to do is buy the child a new stuffed animal that you really think they're going to like, something unique perhaps. Generally it's better to choose a stuffed animal which is not similar to the stuffed animal you need to dispose of. The object is not to remind the child of the old stuffed animal, but to get them to move onto a new and improved stuffed animal. One tactic I've found helpful is to suggest to the child that the new stuffed animal is a "big kid" stuffed animal, as opposed to the older "little kid" stuffed animal.
Offer a distraction
Another way to gently remove an old stuffed animal from a child is to offer a distraction, or less nicely put, a bribe. Let the child know that once they give up their "little kid" stuffed animal, they can go to the amusement park or take gymnastics lessons. Compromise by letting the child have something they've been begging you for in exchange for giving up the stuffed animal. You could also decide to keep the stuffed animal in a cardboard box in the attic or garage. That way the child no longer has access to the stuffed animal, but knows it's still around and doesn't have quite the same amount of separation anxiety.
Lose the stuffed animal
I hate to use this tactic to get rid of a child's beloved stuffed animal, but it may work as a last resort. If you really have a pressing need to get rid of the child's old stuffed animal, you could make sure to "lose" the stuffed animal while the child is on vacation or at camp. Maybe the child accidentally leaves the stuffed animal at a relative's house who you're not going to see again for awhile. I prefer not to downright lie to children, but this way will work to get rid of an undesirable stuffed animal if need be.