Weighted stuffed animals are a great way to bring comfort into your home. These cozy companions can help with sleep and improve the mental health of children and adults with autism, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, and more. In this complete guide to weighted stuffed animals, you’ll learn about their psychological benefits and how to choose the right huggable gift for yourself or someone who could use emotional support.
As an autistic adult, I’ve learned you’re never too old to have a soft stuffed animal to hug! I have put together this guide based on research studies and my own experiences, and I hope it will help other neurodivergent people, their parents, and their loved ones.
Weighted Stuffed Animals We Recommend
I have many weighted stuffed animals of different brands and prices piled on my bed and couch, plus some cute weighted pillows, all of which I’ve recommended below. They make great gifts to honor your neurodivergent self-care needs or for a kid or friend. The Ability Toolbox is a disabled-owned website, and all of our reviews come from our peer experts — writers and community members who live with disabilities and mental health conditions.
Classic Weighted Plush Toys
Looking for weighted stuffed animals with classic themes? You’ll find a bear, puppy, dinosaur, and more to ease anxiety and calm meltdowns. These can be well-suited for ages 3 and up.
Weighted Stuffed Animals for Kids
These weighted stuffed animals will appeal to your child — or your inner child. Disney fans will love their line of autism-friendly plushes from popular movies including The Lion King and Lilo and Stitch. I have a Stitch because I find his moods so relatable! I also have a Moon Bunny — I love her size and adorable face.
Cute and Kawaii Weighted Stuffed Animals for Teens and Adults
These cute and kawaii stuffed animals come in different weight options and make ideal sleep pals for kids, teens, and older. Cats that are also pickles? Why not!
Unique Weighted Plush Toys
If you need to axolotl questions about weighted stuffed animals before you buy, we’ve goat a lot of answers! If you’re bored of the usual teddy bears and puppies, a weighted toy from this section will be just what you’re looking for to sleep well at night or match your neurodivergent special interest.
Sloth Weighted Stuffed Animal
Sloths have their own section because they are one of my special interests, so I’m featuring several here and I hope you’ll love them as much as I do! If you have trouble sleeping at night, they’re the inspiration you need.
Animal Weighted Lap Pads and Pillows
Where is the line between a weighted stuffed animal and a weighted plush pillow? I find it tricky to decide, but if it’s a pillow with a face, you’ll find it here. I like to use a lap pad at my desk, or put it over my head and shoulders to help prevent an autism meltdown when I’m not at home because weighted blankets are too big and heavy to carry in public. A weighted pillow may be preferred by some neurodivergent adults to use in professional settings. They may also aid in sleep better than plushies.
Handmade Weighted Stuffed Animals
You can support a small business or even get a custom handmade weighted stuffed animal from these designers. I have a Mothman and it wraps around my chest perfectly. Maybe cryptid hugs aren’t for everyone, but I bet lots of our autistic and ADHD community members will love them.
Weighted stuffed animals may be small, but they can make a big difference in our mental health. If you give them a chance, these snuggly pals will surely become your new best friend in no time!
Looking for more deep pressure therapeutic tools? Check out our guide to weighted blankets for autism.
The Benefits of Weighted Stuffed Animals
How does a weighted stuffed animal work?
Weighted stuffed animals are filled with glass or plastic poly pellets to make them heavy. Natural materials such as rice or flax seeds may also be used. Some can be heated in the microwave or frozen to provide heat or cold therapy; if that’s what you’re looking for, check out our article about Warmies weighted stuffed animals. The weighted filling provides soothing pressure that can alleviate a variety of mental health struggles including stress, trouble sleeping, autism meltdowns, ADHD overstimulation, and more.
Can a weighted stuffed animal help with sleep?
Weighted stuffed animals improve sleep quality by providing gentle pressure, similar to how weighted blankets work. They can help you feel calm and relaxed at bedtime. This makes them the perfect gift for nighttime cuddles!
Can a weighted stuffed animal help with anxiety?
Weighted stuffed animals offer therapeutic benefits for those struggling with anxiety or the aftermath of trauma. Deep pressure stimulation can reduce stress, as evidenced by multiple studies, including one where adults reported a 63% reduction in their anxiety from using a weighted blanket. If you are anxious, weighted products are well worth the small investment and can supplement treatments such as therapy and medication. If you get nighttime panic attacks or PTSD flashbacks, they can make going to bed a lot less scary.
Can a weighted stuffed animal help with autism?
Products such as weighted blankets, lap pads, wearable vests, and stuffed toys are go-to coping tools for children and adults on the autism spectrum for good reason — they work! The famous autistic professor and advocate Temple Grandin has researched this topic extensively and even designed a “hug machine” to address her sensory needs.
People with autism and other developmental disabilities often struggle with sensory processing disorder. Our brains do not process sound, sight, and touch in the same way as neurotypical people. We are prone to misophonia and sensory overload; sounds and sensations that others can tolerate can trigger an autism meltdown. Deep pressure stimulation helps us with sensory self-regulation by providing proprioceptive input.
Deep pressure therapy can be especially helpful for people whose disabilities make it difficult for them to communicate their feelings. A study found that deep pressure has immediate calming effects on children and young adults who have autism with a co-occurring severe intellectual disability. Many autistic people with intellectual disabilities and high support needs struggle with insomnia, which in turn impacts their caregivers, so giving them a weighted plush to hug at night can greatly improve a family’s quality of life.
How to Choose a Weighted Stuffed Animal
These tips will help you and/or your child stay safe, get the most out of using weighted stuffed animals, and select the right snuggle buddy for your needs.
Are weighted toys safe for babies?
Weighted stuffed animals are not safe for infants and toddlers under age 2, as they can become a suffocation hazard if the baby does not have the strength or physical ability to push the item away from their face. Infants should always sleep on their backs in a crib with tightly fitted bedding and no plush toys or other items.
Are weighted toys safe for young children?
For young children over age 2, weighted products should be used with caution and supervision. Weighted stuffed animals should not exceed 10% of a child’s body weight. Parents, if your child has developmental delays, physical disabilities, and/or receives early intervention services, consult with their occupational therapist, physical therapist, and/or doctor to ensure they can safely use and free themselves from under a weighted blanket or heavy plush toy.
Before each use, check to make sure the stitching is secure so it won’t come apart. Check for loose eyes and other potential choking hazards. I recommend buying weighted stuffed animals that are machine washable or have a removable insert so you can wash the soft plush exterior. Spot clean only items aren’t a good choice for kids.
Are weighted stuffed animals good for adults?
Of course they are! You’re never too old to hug a stuffie in bed at night. They fulfill a universal human need for soothing pressure. If somebody gives you a hard time about it, that says a lot more about them than you.
How do I choose the right weight for my needs or my child’s needs?
Weighted stuffed animals typically range from 1 to 5 pounds. For kids, parents should choose a stuffed animal they can easily pick up and carry without assistance. If you’re an adult, as a starting point, consider whether you prefer gentle pressure or a strong bear hug. Consider your own weight and any physical limitations that could make a heavier plushie difficult to carry or use.
It’s often best to start off with a lighter weight and work your way up as needed. If you find that your insomnia, anxiety and/or sensory overload persist, you may need a heavier stuffed animal. On the other hand, if too much pressure makes you anxious or you wake up feeling overheated, you may need lighter weighted products. If you’re really not sure where to start, I recommend getting a stuffed animal with a removable insert that’s on the lighter side. Then you can add weight if needed.
What other factors should I consider before buying a weighted plush?
If you or your kid has sensory sensitivities, read about fabric texture and zoom in on photos to make sure the toy is soft enough to provide comfort. Most neurodivergent people hate the sensation of clothing tags touching our skin, so take a picture of the washing instructions and then cut off the tag before use.
More Neurodiversity & Autism Resources in The Ability Toolbox
- Comfortable Autism Noise Canceling Headphones and Earplugs
- Why the Autism Puzzle Piece Is Bad, and What to Use Instead
- Autism T-Shirts and Clothing to Celebrate Neurodiversity Acceptance
- Sensory Swings for Kids and Adults with Autism or ADHD: A Guide
- Sensory Overload Self-Help Guide: Coping Tips to Help You Thrive
Hey I'm Olivia and I'm a proud Autistic woman. My special interests are cats, stim toys, and electronic music! I love to write and help other Autistic adults find ways to enjoy life in this LOUD world!