Best Stuffed Animals for Babies And Kids In 2019: Safe & Cute!

Last Updated On: 

May 10, 2019

Are you a bit of a sucker for soft animals? If so, maybe your baby isn’t here just yet, but you already have a lovely soft teddy stowed in your hospital bag.

Or maybe your little one already has a bunch of stuffed toys from adoring relatives and close friends, but you just can’t resist buying another cuddly bunny rabbit or cute elephant to add to the bunch.

Stuffed animals – also referred to as stuffed toys, plush toys, and plushies – are as cute as they come. Babies and young children love them (sometimes, quite literally, to bits)!

However, you might be wondering whether that knitted bear you picked up at a craft sale is actually safe for your newborn, or whether you should opt for traditional neutral colors for your baby or modern multi-colored toys that promise to be stimulating and/or educational.

In this article, we’ll be answering all questions you might have about stuffed animals for babies and kids – but first, let’s have a quick look at what we believe to be some of the top options available in today’s market.

Best Stuffed Animals for Babies and Kids – a Quick Look at Our Top 10 Recommendations

Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.

Why Should I Buy Stuffed Animals for My Baby?

It’s hard to imagine any home with a baby feeling quite complete without at least one stuffed animal – and you may well have quite the collection in your nursery!

Obviously, stuffed animals are fun to cuddle and play with, but they have a whole host of other benefits as well.

Sensory Play

Babies love to touch different fabrics and materials, and stuffed animals can be great for stroking. Some stuffed animals are even good for chewing and sucking.

Some plush toys are specifically designed to offer a range of sensory experiences for babies, and that’s always a plus.

Calming Separation Anxiety

Many children, though not all of them will, develop a special attachment to a particular toy.

This is often a stuffed animal, but could also be a doll, a pacifier, or even a small blanket (think of Linus in Peanuts).

These are known as “transitional objects”, as they help children to “transition” from being with their parents to being away from their parents – maybe with a babysitter or spending a good portion of the day at a daycare center.

Helping Your Baby Get to Sleep Independently

Many sleep experts recommend that if your child hasn’t chosen a special toy to love just yet, you should try to deliberately introduce one. Note: This doesn’t mean you should force one on them.

Transitional objects (or as some parents prefer to call them, “loveys”) can be a great replacement for you during the night.

If your baby wakes up, they’ll be able to cuddle their toy and hopefully go back to sleep all on their own, happy and feeling safe, without your involvement being needed.

Comforting Your Child When They’re Upset

Well beyond babyhood, many children will hug their beloved teddy or other stuffed animal when something has upset them.

If you’re not immediately available for a cuddle at the time – or if your child is upset with you (you better get used to that sort of thing) – then their stuffed animal can be a very important source of comfort that helps them calm down.

Encouraging Creative Role Play

If you’ve ever had the honor of hosting a tea party for stuffed animals, you’ll know how much children love to involve them in creative role-playing.

This can often be an opportunity to work through real-life situations, and a way for your child to feel powerful.

They might want to be the teacher in a school full of toys, for instance, or the dentist or doctor who’s examining a bunch of cuddly patients.

Is My Child Too Young (or Too Old) for a Stuffed Animal?

In a word … no!

Many stuffed animals are suitable from birth, and frankly, no-one is ever too old to enjoy a cuddle with their favorite teddy.

You will want to make sure you buy a stuffed animal that’s suitable for your child, though. For example, if you’re buying for a newborn, the toy needs to be labeled as suitable “from birth”.

Even with older children, toys need to be age-appropriate. Two-year-olds shouldn’t have stuffed toys with loose parts that could pose a choking risk, for instance.

Children well into school age may not want “babyish” stuffed toys, but might well love to have something that looks a bit more grown up and won’t make them feel embarrassed to show the world.

What Materials are Stuffed Animals Made From?

Stuffed animals can be made from all sorts of materials, and when you’re choosing an appropriate toy for your child, you’ll want to think carefully about both the “fur” of the toy (the outside part) and the stuffing.

Common materials for the fur (or the outside of the toy) are:

  • Wool (common in homemade stuffed toys)
  • Cotton (generally used for organic stuffed toys)
  • Synthetic polyester fibers

Common materials for the actual stuffings of these toys are:

  • Beans (plastic pellets)
  • Polyfill – a synthetic substance
  • Scraps of fabric (in traditional rag dolls)
  • Wool

Depending on your feelings about synthetic materials, you may want to look for stuffed animals that are certified organic, or that are made from natural materials.

One thing you should always do, of course, is make sure they meet safety standards.

You may also want to avoid materials that have been prepared using pesticides (e.g. non-organic cotton), harsh dyes, or any substances that could aggravate a child’s asthma or other breathing conditions.

What Should I Look For In Stuffed Animals For My Baby?

When you’re choosing a stuffed animal for your child, it can be very tempting to just pick the cutest one you can find and call it a day, but that’s not the best way to go about doing this.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re choosing a toy that meets the following criteria.

Safe for Your Child

If you’re buying for a baby who’s on the way or a young infant who’s already at home, then make sure that the stuffed animal you’ve chosen is suitable from birth.

It should be “breathable” so that your child can still breathe even if they press their face into the toy. This is critically important if the toy is ever (even if this only happens once) going to be cuddled by your baby as they sleep.

Stuffed animals that aren’t breathable can pose a serious suffocation risk to children under 12 months old.

If your child is under 36 months of age, you should make sure that the toy doesn’t have any loose parts (eyes or buttons are common culprits) that could become a choking hazard if detached.

Most toys will be labeled as unsuitable for under 36 months of age if they do have any small parts, but it doesn’t hurt to double check this yourself.

It’s also important to take into account any health conditions that your child has at the time. If they have asthma or a dust mite allergy, for instance, you’ll want to opt for toys that are hypoallergenic.

A Suitable Size for Your Child (and Your Home)

If your child is still a small baby, you probably won’t want to buy them a teddy that’s as big as they are!

Look for a stuffed animal that your child can easily cuddle and play with, without worrying about it swamping them.

Of course, larger and older children might be delighted by a massive teddy, but do take into account how much space you have around the house. A few huge stuffed animals will quickly dominate not only your nursery, but also the living room.

Easy to Keep Clean

Many stuffed toys can simply be popped in the washing machine, but do check that’s the case with the one(s) you’re looking at.

You don’t want a toy that’s “sponge clean only”, or one that has to be very carefully dissembled to be cleaned (I think it’s safe to say I speak for everyone here when I say no one has time for that!).

It’s unlikely that the stuffed toy will be able to go through the dryer multiple times and remain in good condition, too – so you may want to pick a toy that’s going to be easy and quick to dry.

A Good Fit for Your Nursery Decor

While this may not be your top consideration, if you’re buying a stuffed animal for a very young baby, you’ll probably want to think about how it’ll fit in with the nursery decor in general.

If you have a colorful jungle theme, for instance, a bright toy elephant might make a lot of sense. If your nursery has a classic, neutral look, then a traditional brown teddy might be a better choice.

What Types of Stuffed Animals Can I Choose From For My Baby?

There are a lot of different stuffed animals out there you can choose from, to the extent that picking the “right” option might quickly feel overwhelming.

While choosing between an elephant, a bear and a rabbit may not be too tricky, you might be a bit bewildered by all the other choices of what to go for.

Well, we’re here to simplify all of that! It really doesn’t have to be so complicated.

Here are the main types of stuffed animals you’ll likely find yourself picking and choosing from, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Plush Toys

Regular plush toys tend to have soft, furry bodies.

Some are neutral or traditional colors; others are bright neons – but they’re basically all the same thing. These are probably the toys you think of first when you think “stuffed animal”.

Not all of them are safe for babies, though, and some aren’t safe for under-threes. So, be sure to check product labels and packaging carefully. Be particularly wary of toys that have buttons or beads for eyes, which could easily be pulled off and get your little one into serious trouble.

Baby-safe plushies, though, can become firm favorites that help your child get to sleep and settle in unfamiliar situations.

This type of toy has been beloved by generations of children, and they make for great gifts (if you’re looking to get something for someone else’s kid).

Blankets with Animal Heads

Both stuffed animals and blankets can be popular comfort items, so why not combine the two?

There are lots of small blankets, ones specifically designed for babies, which have an animal head in one corner. Some are more detailed than others, with legs and/or arms as well.

Babies often love to touch and cuddle these and, as they get older, carry them around.

They tend to be very soft, and most are – thankfully! – machine-washable.

One thing you’ll have to be extra sure of, though, is size. They can be smaller than you might expect (or smaller than what they look like in pictures), so if you’re buying online, do check the dimensions first.

For older children, you’ll probably want to choose a toy that looks more like an actual animal. After all, you’ll struggle to sit up a blanket animal and have it join a tea party!

Sensory Stuffed Animals

There are a wide range of stuffed animals on the market that are made up of multiple different colored, patterned and textured fabrics. They also often include bells, mirrors, rattles and other features to stimulate your baby’s senses.

These can be great for babies under a year old, especially as many of these toys also have rings that allow them to hook onto your stroller – ideal for amusing a fractious little one when you’re out and about.

Toddlers will probably not be so easily entertained by these toys’ textures and features, though, and older children will probably find them too babyish.

Best Stuffed Animals For Babies and Kids – A More Detailed Look At Our Top 10 Recommendations

Baby GUND My First Teddy Bear Stuffed Animal Plush

Baby GUND My First Teddy Bear Stuffed Animal Plush, Tan, 15'

This cute plush teddy bear is 15” tall and suitable from newborn age plus.

It’s a lovely, classic-looking bear that would make a great gift for a new baby. This one’s a tan color, but there are other options available as well – such as cream, pink, and blue.

This bear’s eyes and nose are embroidered, and are not plastic or glass (such as other bear stuffed animals on the market these days). So, they’re safe even for the tiniest of little ones.

The bear’s fur is super soft and cuddly.

As you probably already know from first hand experience by now: accidents happen! So, it’s probably a relief to know that this bear can be machine washed – unlike many plush toys out there that are surface wash only.

If your little one happens to spit up milk all over their bear, spill their juice, or drop it in a puddle altogether – you can just pop in straight in the washing machine and it’ll come out as good as new!

Pros:

  • Attractive tan color that’s suitable for both boys and girls.
  • Classic bear that will suit just about any nursery or style.
  • Embroidered features mean this bear is safe for newborns.
  • Machine washable – very handy if your little one likes to chew it (or happens to spit up on it).
  • Soft, snugly fur that’s lovely to cuddle.

Cons:

  • Decorative bow can’t easily be removed, and might potentially be a hazard if it gets wrapped around a little one’s finger.
  • Stitching may come apart after some time (especially with rough treatment), which isn’t what you’d hope for when spending money on a teddy bear for your baby.

 

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Aurora World Sweet and Softer Ping Panda

Aurora World Sweet and Softer Ping Panda 12' Plush

This very cute panda is white and dark gray, and sits 12” tall. The plush is very soft and squishy, and extremely cute.

You can machine wash it on a gentle cycle, as long as you make sure to line dry it afterward. Whatever you do, don’t put it in your dryer!

The panda is stuffed with some beans, but they’re in a bag inside rather than loose, which means it’s much safer if your little one manages to rip or gnaw a hole in the panda!

If pandas aren’t really your thing, or your little one doesn’t find them all that much entertaining, there are other animals available for you to choose from as well. For example, there’s penguins, lions, and pigs.

It’s not advertised as suitable for babies, probably due to the plastic eyes, but these are safely secured – so it’s likely to be safe for your little one to play with even if they’re quite small.

Always remember that you shouldn’t let a newborn sleep with cuddly toys unless they’re breathable, due to the risk of suffocation.

Pros:

  • Super-cute design that you may well love as much as your child does!
  • Soft fur that’s lovely to stroke and cuddle.
  • Beans in the panda’s bottom are in a bag, so even if the stitching splits, they’re safe and don’t pose a choking hazard.
  • Can go through the washing machine without problems, but you should be sure to use a gentle cycle.
  • Eyes are tightly secured to minimize any risk from them coming off.
  • Good price compared with many other similar toys.

Cons:

  • Some complaints that it’s slightly smaller than the advertised 12” – more like 10”, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
  • Grey coloring may seem oddly light for a panda.

 

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Aurora World Flopsie Plush Goldie Labrador Dog

Aurora World Inc. Flopsie Plush Goldie Labrador Dog, 12'

If you’re a dog-lover, or if you know that your little one would be thrilled to have a puppy at home but you can’t have an actual pet for whatever reason, then this lovely plush Labrador is a great toy to opt for.

First things first, it’s amazing how realistic looking this stuffed animal is, rather than being styled like a child’s toy. So, it could make a lovely gift for an older child or even an adult.

It doesn’t “flop” like some soft toys – instead, it keeps its shape. It’s still squishy and cuddly, though, so it makes a great comfort item.

The eyes and nose are plastic, but they’re securely attached, so they should be safe even for under three year olds.

The dog is 12 inches long from toe to toe, but you might find that’s a little smaller than you’re expecting. In other words, this isn’t an especially large stuffed animal.

Pros:

  • Very soft fur – feels very nice to pet and stroke (just like you would do with a real life Labrador).
  • Lovely gift not only for little ones, but also for older children and adults,
  • Stuffed with cotton and bags of beads, so even if it develops a rip, it should still be safe for your child to play with.
  • Well-made and durable – it’ll survive a few trips through the washing machine with no problems.
  • An excellent option to comfort little ones who’ve lost a real life Labrador dog (or when puppies have gone to new homes).

Cons:

  • The dog can’t be repositioned. In other words, you can’t move its legs, head, etc …
  • May not be as large as you’d expect for the price.

 

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Jellycat Bashful Beige Bunny Stuffed Animal

Jellycat Bashful Beige Bunny Stuffed Animal, Medium, 12 inches

This cute beige bunny has amazingly soft fur – and it’s from well-known brand Jellycat, which may parents and little ones have grown to love over the years.

It has big floppy ears and a white bobtail. The black eyes are plastic, but they’re very well secured, so this shouldn’t pose a risk to under three year olds.

There are different sizes available for you to choose from, though this 12” bunny is a great mid-sized option for most little ones.

Although the manufacturer advertises the bunny as spot-clean only, it should hold up well to washing on “delicate” or “gentle” settings.

With that being said, just be aware that after a few washes, that super-soft fur won’t be quite so soft anymore.

It’s a classic looking toy that would suit any nursery – and as it comes in beige, which makes it a great option for girls or boys. If you’d prefer to, you can also get other colors, including pink, blue, and yellow.

While Jellycat toys aren’t the cheapest, you can certainly rely on them to be durable and well-made – and this stuffed bunny is certainly no exception.

Pros:

  • Very cute, super-soft and cuddly bunny.
  • Made by a well-known soft toy brand that many parents love.
  • Range of different colors available.
  • Quite floppy, but can be repositioned (which means you can sit it up due to beads in the bottom).

Cons:

  • Super-soft fur won’t stay super-soft after repeated machine washings.
  • If buying through Amazon, pay attention to the seller and make sure you’re buying from the original one. There have been reports of knock-off Jellycat Bunnies from shady sellers.

 

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bean Bag Toy

World of Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar Bean Bag Toy

If you love The Very Hungry Caterpillar (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), then this is a great stuffed toy to opt for.

It’s soft and squishy, about 7 inches long, and would make a great gift for a preschooler who holds affection towards the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. You could also easily pair it with a copy of the book!

It comes at a fairly budget-friendly price, and it’s durable and will stand up to a fair amount of rough play. So, if you’ve got an energetic toddler that needs something strong to handle all that innocent “abuse”, this could make a great gift for them.

The design is closely in keeping with the illustrations of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and the colors are bright and vivid.

The caterpillar itself is a nice size for a child to carry around easily, and it could fit in a toddler backpack just fine without any problems.

The eyes are embroidered on (not plastic or glass), which means there are no little parts that could come off and pose a choking hazard.

Pros:

  • Cute caterpillar that is a good likeness for the one in The Very Hungry Caterpillar book.
  • All features are embroidered – no loose parts.
  • Great gift to pair with a book, or with other similar items (such as a T-shirt).
  • Soft, cuddly and durable – stands up well to lots of play.

Cons:

  • Product photo might not actually represent the true size of the caterpillar – regardless of the photos you see anywhere online, know that the one you’ll receive is 7 inches long.
  • Some descriptions call it a “beanbag”, but there are only beans in the final part of the tail.

 

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Wild Republic Cuddlekin Three Toed Sloth

Wild Republic Cuddlekin Three Toed Sloth 12' Plush

This cuddly sloth is quite realistic-looking (including its back legs, which turn inward for hanging upside down on tree branches).

The arms and legs are long enough that you could definitely hang the sloth from the bars of a crib or from a curtain rail or similar, if you wanted to.

It’s a good size at 12”, and has beans in the hands, feet, and bottom to help give it more shape and weight.

It’d make a very nice gift for an older child – or even an adult – who likes sloths, collects stuffed animals, or who wants something comfortable to cuddle with.

The price is fairly average for a soft toy of this size. It’s a durable option, though not necessarily one that would stand up to a lot of rough handling from very young children.

So, if you happen to be raising the next Terminator, you might want to give this one a pass for something else that could handle more “abuse”.

For real sloth enthusiasts, it’s worth knowing that this is a three-toed sloth, not a two-toed one … just in case that makes a difference to you! (Which I’m sure it won’t).

Pros:

  • Unusual stuffed animal option that would appeal to sloth enthusiasts or plush toy collectors.
  • Realistic design that’s particularly suitable for older children – or even adults.
  • Soft and cuddly fur – comforting to cuddle and/or stroke.
  • Nicely weighted due to the beads inside the bottom, hands and feet.
  • Arms and legs are really long, so can be positioned over/around things.

Cons:

  • A few strands of fur may fall out of the sloth quite easily, especially when you buy a brand new one and your kid starts playing with it for the first time.
  • Arms/legs don’t fasten together – you’d need to sew Velcro on if you want the sloth to actually grip on to things.

 

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Cloud b Sleep Sheep On The Go Travel Sound Soother

Cloud b Sleep Sheep On The Go Travel Sound Soother

This sleepy looking sheep is a stuffed animal with quite a difference: it plays soothing sounds to help your little one drift easily off to sleep.

It’s travel size (8”), so fits easily into a diaper bag or your hand luggage should you decide to take it with you when out of the house or on a trip.

There’s a handy photo in the manufacturer’s description that shows it alongside the larger standard Sleep Sheep. You can attach it to a car seat or stroller with the handy Velcro strap on the back.

There are four sounds to choose from, and you can set these to play for a duration of either 23 or 45 minutes. The latter is really helpful if you have a baby who takes a while to fully settle.

There’s also a volume control, so you can get this to just the right volume for your little one (and for anyone else in the house). Since you have control over volume, this means it could also make for some good white noise for your little one to sleep to.

If, in the future, you want to use the Sleep Sheep as only a stuffed toy, that’s possible too and is not at all complicated. To do that, you can remove the sound box completely, and you’re all good to go!

Pros:

  • May well help your little one settle better and sleep longer on trips.
  • Volume can be adjusted – useful if you need to position it further (or closer) to your child than usual.
  • Cute sleepy sheep design that’s safe for your little one to cuddle.
  • Soundbox can be removed once your child no longer needs the soothing sounds in order to sleep.
  • Choice of four different sounds (ocean, whales, stream, rainfall).

Cons:

  • No option of womb/heartbeat sound, which some similar toys offer.
  • Won’t play continuously, so is not a great option if your little one wakes in the night upset about the lack of sound.

 

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Jellycat Bashful Monkey Baby Security Blanket

Jellycat Bashful Monkey Baby Security Blanket

This adorable little monkey clothes the corner of a very soft blanket (18” by 13”). It makes the security blanket easy for even the tiniest hands to grip and hold.

The monkey is a full body, not just a head and arms like some soft toys attached to blankets.

The monkey’s eyes are stitched – the safest possible option – and it’s part of the blanket, so it’s firmly attached and won’t come off.

Your baby can chew away on the monkey without doing any harm, and the blanket is small enough that it won’t wrap around your baby’s head.

It can be machine washed (pretty much an essential for comfort blankets!), but can’t go through the drier.

Like all Jellycat stuffed toys, the monkey and blanket are amazingly soft – though keep in mind that they may not stay that way after a few washes.

It’s not the cheapest option out there, but it’s well-made and durable – both of which make it worth the somewhat higher price tag in my book!

Pros:

  • Very easy for babies to get hold of and cuddle up to.
  • Eyes are stitched – no small parts to pose a choking hazard.
  • Can be machine washed, so it doesn’t matter if it gets chewed a lot.
  • Very soft, gentle material that’s nice to stroke and cuddle.

Cons:

  • May be smaller than you’re expecting. This isn’t a blanket that will cover your baby, it’s more like a face cloth size.
  • After machine washing, especially when done a few times, the monkey and blanket won’t be as silky soft as before.

 

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Toy Storage Net for Stuffed Animals

Toy Storage Net for Stuffed Animals - Top Quality Hammock by Kidde Time (White)

This isn’t a stuffed animal – instead, it’s a special storage net that can contain dozens of your little one’s toys and stuffed animals.

You can hang it like a hammock in your little one’s room and just pop all their toys in there to keep the floor and bed from becoming super-cluttered.

The mesh of the net is strong enough, to the extent that you can rest assured it won’t easily sag, stretch, or break.

It’s trimmed in white, so would fit with the decor of almost any nursery. It’s a good size as well – it’ll stretch to 50” across – and it can hold a fair amount of weight.

It hooks to the wall in three places, and you’ll need to screw the anchors into the wall. It’s quite easy to install, with anchors and screws supplied for mounting it to the wall.

If you don’t have much space for toy boxes (or anything else to hold your little one’s stuffed animals), this storage net is a great safe saver.

Note that you should ideally position it out of your child’s reach, so they can’t try to climb into it and get tangled up – if they manage to do that, it could potentially pose a strangulation risk!

Pros:

  • Strong, sturdy hammock that can contain a fairly large collection of stuffed animals.
  • Good storage solution if you don’t want to buy yet another toy box.
  • Keeps plush toys on display rather than hidden away.
  • Budget-friendly, but durable – this should stand up to quite a bit of use.

Cons:

  • The net could be dangerous if a child gets tangled up in it. So, be sure to keep it out of their reach.
  • May not be quite as large as you’re hoping – it doesn’t stretch, which you may or may not potentially see as a drawback.

 

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Creativity for Kids Mini Sequin Pets, Sprinkles The Unicorn

Creativity for Kids Mini Sequin Pets, Sprinkles The Unicorn Plush Toy - Weighted Sensory Toys for Kids

If you’ve got a child who loves unicorns, sequins, or both, then this will definitely make their day!

It’s fairly small (6” high), but it’s super cute and weighted so it’s nice to hold. It’s billed as a sensory toy due to the reversible sequins, which can be comforting to play with.

The sequins are shiny and fairly soft to the touch rather than being scratchy like some sequins, and the unicorn will sit upright due to the weighting. In other words, it won’t fall down.

It’s designed for older kids (age 5 years and up), and it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s not washable. So, if your little one is prone to dragging toys around at the park, this might not be the best option for them at the time.

If you have a child who likes to have something to mess around with, this is a great option. It could also make a lovely classroom mascot for a preschool or kindergarten, and it’s particularly well suited to kids who might need the sensory play for therapeutic reasons.

There are other animals available as well as the unicorn – so, if unicorns aren’t your kid’s thing, you can opt for an elephant, hippopotamus, narwhal or dinosaur instead.

Pros:

  • Cute unicorn that’s a great size to carry around in a bag.
  • Nicely weighted so that it sits upright and feels comforting to hold.
  • Reversible rainbow sequins are bright and colorful, and lots of fun to fiddle with.
  • Well-made and durable – will stand up to being carried around a lot.
  • Independently safety tested.

Cons:

  • Not best for children under the age of five years.
  • Quite heavy and hard (at least heavier and harder than other stuffed animal toys on the market) – which means it’s not really the best to cuddle with, but more suitable to fiddle with instead.

 

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How Many Stuffed Animals Should I Buy For My Baby?

It’s unlikely that you’ll want to buy only one stuffed animal for your baby. Most parents find that they buy at least a few stuffed animals for their little ones – if not immediately, then over the course of their baby’s first year or two.

For toddlers and older children, you’ll probably want to have at least three or four stuffed animals for playing pretend tea parties, and for your child to have sufficient “patients” if they want to role-play as a doctor or dentist.

Beyond that, the number of stuffed animals you buy will mainly come down to how much space you have around the house to accommodate them (and how much tolerance you have for clutter), as well as how much your child enjoys playing with them.

Some children love collecting stuffed animals, while others are fairly indifferent to them (at least after a certain age) and prefer to play with dolls or action figures instead (or with something else entirely).

You may well find that as your child’s stuffed animal collection grows, you’ll need to do a bit of decluttering, so be prepared for that!

Safety Guidelines for Buying and Using Stuffed Animals

Age and Development Stage

Always check that you’re purchasing a toy that’s suitable for your child’s age, and – in some cases – stage of development. This is particularly crucial for:

  • babies – who need breathable toys that don’t pose a suffocation risk.
  • under-threes – who need toys that don’t have any small, potentially detachable parts that could end up posing danger to them.

Second Hand or Handmade

Be particularly cautious about buying second hand or handmade stuffed toys for your baby.

Not only could these not conform to rigorous modern safety standards, but pre-loved toys are often a hotbed of germs.

So, you’ll want to give them a thorough clean before letting your child anywhere near them them.

Damage With Time

Check your child’s stuffed animals regularly for any damage.

If your baby has chewed their toy rabbit’s lining so much that a hole has opened up, for instance, you’ll want to repair that carefully so that the stuffing doesn’t come out.

You definitely don’t want your baby trying to eat that stuff!

Strangulation Risks

If a toy comes with a ribbon, bow, long hair, or any other kind of string that’s over six inches long, remove that before giving it to your child, since it could pose a strangulation risk.

Even very short strings could be chewed and swallowed.

No Toys In The Crib

Safety guidelines from the AAP state that you shouldn’t put toys in your baby’s crib until they’re 12 months old.

I know what you’re thinking, a bare crib may look boring and all, but it’s definitely safest.

In practice, many parents go against that piece of advice and put a stuffed toy in the crib – but if you choose to do so, at least ensure that the toy is guaranteed to be safe for young babies and won’t pose any risk to them in their crib, and stick to only one.

Even if your child is over 12 months of age, don’t let them have multiple stuffed toys in their bed or crib. In one very sad and tragic instance, a toddler died after being suffocated by the teddy bears that had been placed alongside her bed to prevent her falling out.

Health Conditions

If your child has asthma, eczema or a dust mite allergy, freezing stuffed animals for at least 24 hours should kill off any dust mites that might be present.

Alternatively, you can kill dust mites by tumble drying on hot (which should be fine as long as the toy is designed to survive it), or by soaking the toy in a liquid detergent with eucalyptus oil.

Wrapping it Up

Stuffed animals are a great source of enjoyment and comfort for most babies and toddlers.

By following a few safety guidelines and checking that you’re buying toys that are age-appropriate and suitable for your child, you can rest assured that they should be just fine.

Always remember to check stuffed toys for any signs of damage on a regular basis, and make sure you disinfect and wash them regularly too.

If a damaged toy is especially well loved and your little one doesn’t want to let go of it no matter what, you may want to contact a toy hospital to have it repaired.

That way, your child can enjoy playing with their stuffed animal for many years to come: perhaps they’ll even pass it on to their own child someday!

 

Product photos: © Amazon.com

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