The best stuffed animals for babies have to have something extra special to become your child’s first friend. Not to say there’s a shortage in your nursery: As soon as we announce we’re pregnant, the stuffed toys for Baby start rolling in. They seem to multiply in our sleep and easily overtake the playroom and toy box, not to mention our kid’s bed. However, not all stuffies are created equal. We all remember our favorite stuffed animal, the one that went everywhere with us at home or away.
There’s a variety of things that can make something the most popular stuffed animal with your babe. For infants working on hand-eye coordination, it can be the ease of grabbing it and snuggling it close. Or for those troubled sleepers, plush toys that play soothing sounds outside of the crib can easily swing them into favor. For us mamas, we love organic toys made of plush materials so we know BB is safe from any harmful chemicals while playing with their soft toy.
Are stuffed animals beneficial for babies?
According to Toy Insider’s Charlene DeLoach, they are totally beneficial! Along with being a mother of two and a toy blogger at The Charlene Chronicles, she’s been a toy expert for The Toy Insider for the past decade. In other words…she knows the deal on stuffed animals, plush toys, and plenty more.
“Stuffed animals enable babies to self-soothe and they reduce anxiety and fear,” DeLoach says. “Having a cuddly companion also helps babies learn empathy and develop language skills.”
Are stuffed animals safe for babies?
Please note: The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend stuffed animals or any soft bedding in Baby’s crib until after they’re 12 months old. That means stuffed animals for babies are for supervised playtime only — not for sleeping with. For young children, be sure any plush toy is free of choking hazards, such as button eyes or other details that could pop off and be put in their mouths.
“When shopping for a stuffed animal for a baby, you want to make sure the eyes, mouth, nose, and other markings are embroidered to reduce beads and other embellishments from falling off and potentially causing choking hazards,” DeLoach adds. “Also, look for plush without perfumes, fragrances, or other artificial enhancements and seek natural fibers and fabrics to avoid allergic reactions.”
As long as the toy you choose is designed to be baby-safe, your little one can enjoy some tactile, cuddly play.
At what age do babies like stuffed animals?
Infants may snuggle their plush pals a bit, but babies usually don’t start showing a real interest until they’re about 1 year old!
What to consider when shopping for stuffed animals
DeLoach suggests leaving the bright-colored, sound-making, battery-operated stuffed animals and toys for daytime play only (under adult supervision, of course). If you’re looking for something soothing and cuddly for your baby, consider soft and muted colors instead.
The second thing to consider (which may be most helpful to you, Mama) is to look for stuffed animals that are machine washable. That way you can throw it in the wash with no extra hassle or worry of dirty toys laying around your little one.
With so many stuffed animals on the market today, it’s hard to know which ones to choose. While it’s largely a matter of personal choice, we’ve curated a list of our favorites from the soft and cuddly to the best baby shower picks for baby’s first stuffed animal. We can’t wait to see all the IG photos of BB’s Teddy Bear Picnics and tea parties!
Best Stuffed Animals
Jellycat is a British brand established in 1999 with the mission of bringing quirky, original, and innovative toys for people of all ages. We think this adorable Blush Bunny (also available in beige and white) will become Baby’s favorite stuffed animal right from the beginning. Jellycat offers a variety of sizes in all of their plush toys from mini to really huge! Blush Bunny comes in your choice of either 12 inches or 15 inches. One reviewer comments, “Jellycats are one of several go-too gifts we use for newborn shower gifts now. They are so adorable and joyfully received. We have gifted the bunny, the Cordy Fox, the monkey, and a few dogs to date. I always recommend that the parents use the stuffed animal to make monthly photographs of their newborn lying beside their Jellycat critter.”
Bedtime Originals super soft Plush Monkey Ollie is smaller than other stuffed animals for tots, measuring just 8 inches tall. The smaller size makes it easier for younger babies to hold and snuggle during playtime. If monkeys don’t really work with your nursery theme, Bedtime Originals has a variety of different plush stuffed animals available on Amazon from elephants to dinosaurs. One mama shares, “This was one of the first toys we gave my baby boy, along with a couple other stuffed critters, and he singled this one out to be his very best friend. For the first couple years he wanted to bring ‘ooh ooh ah ah’ with us everywhere; he is 3 1/2 now and prefers to bring trains when we leave the house, but it is this monkey he still falls asleep hugging every single night.”
For over 120 years, GUND has been making teddy bears and is one of the oldest plush toy makers in the country. We think this makes them a bonafide expert in stuffed animals for babies! GUND’s My First Teddy Bear is available in three sizes in gender-neutral colors, all with infant-safe detailing. One mama reviewer writes, “Omg why didn’t I find this teddy before? My munchkin loves soft toys to cuddle but all soft toys have something or the others which may be a choking hazard. But this softy teddy is so perfect. Perfectly made eyes with thread and [the] ribbon around the neck is nicely secured.”
This Labradoodle Plush Toy from Pottery Barn Kids brings realistic play to life for little ones. Babies who are curious about their furry best friends (who don’t always appreciate their ears and eyes and nose being poked and prodded) can now investigate their plush version. Available in a big jumbo size perfect for different age groups, this is sure to be a best friend for life.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Store has been one of the best stuffed animal brands for decades. While their original Vermont Teddy Bear made them famous, they have since expanded to a variety of plush friends including bunnies, flamingos, sloths, cats, and this super cute giraffe, to name a few. One of the best things about the Vermont Teddy Bear Store is their lifetime guarantee. According to The Vermont Teddy Bear Store on Amazon, “Our stuffed animals are designed to be well loved for generations, which is why they’re made with durable materials and fur that can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. If something more severe happens, our animals all come with a promise of repair or replacement, making it truly yours for life.”
We already mentioned that GUND is a top choice for us mamas, so naturally, a member of their newest collection had to make this list. The GUND Fab Pals feature three fluffy friends that are so snuggly and cute, you’ll want to keep it for yourself. Baby will love touching the soft fur, and since they’re able to sit upright on their own, they’re ideal for displaying on a shelf or on your tot’s bed once they’re a bit older. This collection features Roswell the sloth, Ramona the gorilla, and Rylee the owl, all equally adorable and huggable. Now, for the hard part: Having to choose between them!
Best Stuffed Animals For Babies
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a must for any nursery. Your LO will love this board book set combined with an infant-sized plush stuffed caterpillar that’s easy for little hands to grab. It will bring the story to life and will delight babies and toddlers for years to come while reading this classic favorite. One reviewer shares, “Very cute. I bought this as a gift for an 8-month-old, so I like that the book and plush aren’t huge. Perfect size plush for a baby in my opinion. It’s boxed nicely and looks so cute.”
Peek-a-Flap Moo is a new modern classic that introduces fun on the farm with vocabulary words, engaging flaps with hidden surprises, and facts about all of the animals. This set comes with a soft stuffed cow that’s perfect for playing along with the story, but it won’t take up too much precious space — the downside that stuffed animals are known for! One baby gift giver shares, “I love these as gifts for little kids. They are always appreciated by the parents who have enough stuff taking up room. This was perfect for a first birthday gift.”
Musical Stuffed Animals For Babies
Flappy the Elephant will be BB’s favorite playtime plush with two different play modes. Pressing Flappy’s left foot will start an interactive game of peek-a-boo and pressing the right foot will play the Do Your Ears Hang Low? song. With over 26,000 reviews on Amazon, Flappy is a beloved toy in households across the world! One mama writes, “Too cute, it’s brilliant and I was super surprised about the quality of it. […] I got this for my 6-month-old. However, my 4-year-old said it was the cutest thing he had ever seen and kind of stole it from his baby bro, so it’s certainly super popular in our house.”
Hands down the best stuffed animal for Baby to have in their room is Cloud b’s Soothing Sounds White Noise Machine (it even comes with a velcro strap on the back so you can secure it outside the crib.) The original Sleep Sheep has been soothing infants for years and has now expanded to Ella the Unicorn and Frankie the Fox. All three are available with 8 different soothing sounds and the option to play a mother’s heartbeat to help lull Baby to sleep. One dad reviewer writes, “Our first Cloud b was gifted to use by friends in Denmark, so we gave it a try. My son loved it, and at three years old, still wants it on every night.”
We love this Baby Einstein Octoplush toy for its use of color, music, and fun! It’s huggable and soft, but it also includes classical songs for brain development (and for mama, a volume control button!). As an added bonus, this plush toy can name colors in English, French, and Spanish, which toddlers will especially love! One mama reviewer comments, “My six-month-old absolutely adores this toy. She hugs it really hard and will wiggle along to the music. It is very easy for her to push the buttons and manipulate the toy. It was definitely worth the cost for how much she loves it.”
Best Organic Stuffed Animals
Zestt is known for creating organic luxury goods for home, travel, and baby made with GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton. With a commitment to sustainable materials and social responsibility, their heirloom-quality designs bring comfort to both mom and baby. This super soft knit monkey for babies has a classic appeal that’ll look sweet in the nursery (or, you know, tossed about your living room), and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s made with baby-safe materials.
How cute is this hand-stitched organic cotton giraffe from Lynn Michelle Design on Etsy? We love the bright and playful colors, soft cotton yarn, and knit texture. The dangly arms and legs and rattle (great for sensory stimulation) will hold BB’s attention for hours on end. Measuring just over 12 inches this is the perfect size for babies and toddlers, making it a lovely baby shower gift, nursery decor, or birthday gift. The shop also has nearly 1,000 reviews on Etsy with a near-perfect rating, so you know it’s good.