Chances are you’ve heard about potential benefits of using a weighted blanket. For example, research has found that using one can help decrease both anxiety and insomnia. Looking for something a little lighter, more portable and, let’s face it, cuter? Weighted stuffed animals are the answer. Less cumbersome than weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals offer similar calming benefits and are a great option for kids, although anyone can use them, said Lynelle Schneeberg, a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine.
Select talked to experts to learn what you should know about weighted stuffed animals before buying one. We also rounded up a handful of good options to buy, below.
How to shop for a weighted stuffed animal
When shopping for a weighted stuffed animal, experts told us to consider the following factors:
- Weight: Most weighted stuffed animals are between 1 pound and 5 pounds, experts told us. Adults can choose a weight based on personal preference, but when it comes to kids, Schneeberg said it’s important to go with a weight they can easily pick up and carry independently. Weighted stuffed animals typically weigh less than weighted blankets — which start around 5 pounds and can go up to 40 pounds or more — and are smaller.
- Fabric type: Since a weighted stuffed animal will be close to the skin,, the fabric should be soft and non-irritating, said Dr. Alex Dimitriu, board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. It should also be breathable so it doesn't make you too warm, especially while you’re sleeping, he said.
- Easy to clean: Because weighted stuffed animals are designed with something to make them heavy like fabric or beads, many are not machine-washable and cannot be fully submerged in water. You should be able to spot-clean them so be sure to read product descriptions to learn how. Some weighted stuffed animals are designed with removable covers you can throw in the wash, but these models are less common based on our research.
- Heatable or freezable: Some weighted stuffed animals double as heating or cooling pads to be extra soothing. In that case, either the stuffed animal or a removable piece can be put in the microwave or freezer, but weighted stuffed animals won’t necessarily retain those temperatures for long periods of time, said Schneeberg.
Weighted stuffed animals to shop in 2022
To recommend the weighted stuffed animals below, we found options that align with expert guidance. Each weighted stuffed animal on our list is between 1 pound and 5 pounds, listed in order from lightest to heaviest. Some of the brands offer weighted stuffed animals in dozens of styles, so if you’re looking for something specific — like a certain color or character — be sure to browse the full selections online.
Weight: 1.5 pounds
The 13-inch Warmies Sloth is filled with flaxseed to make for weight and dried lavender to promote relaxation, according to the brand, and you can warm it in the microwave or chill it in the freezer. Warmies’ weighted stuffed animals come in characters including cats, cows, llamas and unicorns and smaller or larger sizes, plus, there are animal wraps and a pair of hugging animals.
Weight: 1.85 pounds
Mickey Mouse is a classic, but Disney fans can shop for weighted stuffed animals shaped like many of their favorite characters including Stitch, Pluto, Pua and Lotso. Mickey is 15 inches long and has a removable weighted pouch.
Weight: 2.96 pounds
This 24-inch weighted dinosaur from Pillowfort, a Target-owned brand, is filled with polyester fabric and has a soft, plush exterior. It meets the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, according to the brand, meaning the weighted stuffed animal is free from over 350 harmful chemicals. In addition to the green dinosaur, Pillowfort offers a weighted pink dinosaur, unicorn and cheetah.
Weight: 3.6 pounds
Hugaroo’s weighted lamb is 2 feet and 5 inches long, making it the biggest weighted stuffed animal on our list. Designed with a hypoallergenic polyester exterior and filled with plastic pellets, the weighted stuffed animal’s outer cover and weighted insert are machine-washable, according to the brand. Huggaroo also offers a puppy weighted stuffed animal.
Weight: 4.5 pounds
Hugimals’ puppy is weighted with a removable pouch of non-toxic glass beads, so you can machine wash the plush cover. Beyond Charlie the Puppy, Hugimals sells three other weighted stuffed animals: Emory the Elephant, Darby the Bear and Sam the Sloth.
Weight: 5 pounds
Pottery Barn Kids’ weighted stuffed animals are the heaviest on our list, at 5 pounds each. The cat plush has polyester faux-fur and is filled with polyester. You can spot clean the exterior as needed, according to the brand. Pottery Barn Kids also offers bunny and dog weighted stuffed animals.
Weight: .5 pound, 1 pound or 3 pounds
If you want a weighted blanket alternative that’s not a stuffed animal, Bearaby’s Hugget — a Select Wellness Award winner — is a weighted knot pillow. It comes in small, medium and large; is made from Melofoam, a plant-based material; and is covered in an organic cotton fabric. Bearaby says you can spot clean and air dry the pillows, which come in five colors: Moonstone Grey, Midnight Blue, Asteroid Grey, Cloud White and Evening Rose.
What are weighted stuffed animals?
“Weighted stuffed animals are a riff on weighted blankets,” said Schneeberg. They’re stuffed animals or pillows that usually weigh between 1 pound and 5 pounds. They get their weight from a variety of materials — the brand Warmies, for example, fills weighted stuffed animals with dried flaxseed while other brands use layers of fabric.
Weighted stuffed animals are smaller than weighted blankets, so they cover less of the body and you can hold them on your lap or sleep with them (usually with your arms wrapped around them), experts told us. While anyone can use a weighted stuffed animal, they’re geared toward children: Weighted blankets are often too large and heavy for kids to maneuver by themselves, while weighted stuffed animals are smaller, lighter and similar to other toys they may already have at home, Dimitriu said.
Benefits of weighted stuffed animals
Like weighted blankets, the benefits of weighted stuffed animals center around deep pressure stimulation, which uses gentle pressure to induce feeling safe, cozy and calm. “They both provide pressure the same way a hug, massage or baby swaddle would,” said Schneeberg. And while people anecdotally say weighted blankets and weighted stuffed animals make them feel less anxious or stressed, as well as help them sleep, “the truth is there is no hard research supporting one or the other. In the end, it’s a matter of comfort and personal preference,” said Dimitru.
Since weighted stuffed animals are safe, our experts said they’re worth a shot if you’re curious. But when introducing them with children, be conscious of how you do it, said Schneeberg. If kids use weighted stuffed animals to help them fall asleep, for instance, they may become reliant on them at bedtime, which Schneeberg said is called a “sleep onset association.” Kids want consistency with their bedtime routine, and a disruption like having their weighted stuffed animal taken away — if it gets lost, for example — may cause them to have trouble sleeping.
Is it safe to sleep with a weighted stuffed animal?
Yes, it’s safe for adults and kids to sleep with a weighted stuffed animal, as long as they can move it by themselves — for example, a child should be able to pick it up and carry it easily, experts said. One exception is babies younger than 1 year, who should have an empty crib: Do not put stuffed animals of any sort near them, Schneeberg said.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Lynelle Schneeberg is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine. She’s also a fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of “Become Your Child's Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor's 5-Step Guide, Ages 3-10.” Her practice focuses on helping parents teach their preschool and elementary school children to be great sleepers and using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) to help adolescents and adults sleep well.
- Dr. Alex Dimitriu is double board-certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine. He is the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine and BrainfoodMD.