Weighted stuffed animals have become an increasingly popular calming tool for children with anxiety or sensory processing needs.
They are adorable, calming, and easy to use at home, school, or on the go. Most importantly, weighted stuffed animals give kids a sense of control and empowerment in overcoming obstacles.
But you may be wondering: How much should one weigh? Are they safe? What material is best? And where can I find that special animal with whom my child will connect?
This post will take the stress and guesswork out of the equation and quickly match you with the perfect 2 to 5 lb weighted stuffed animal to meet your child’s unique needs.
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- What are weighted stuffed animals?
- Where should I buy weighted stuffed animals?
- The best 2 to 5 lb weighted stuffed animals to help your child cope with anxiety
- The last thing you need to know about weighted stuffed animals
What are weighted stuffed animals?
Weighted stuffed animals are play-based sensory tools designed to provide pressure and comfort to children with anxiety, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), or other sensory-processing needs.
Weighted stuffed animals are often made with plush material and filled with plastic (polystyrene) pellets, glass or ceramic beads, grain or rice, steel sand, or removable bean bags.
For years, weighted sensory tools, such as blankets, have successfully reduced anxiety in children. Based on these findings, weighted stuffed animals have emerged as a kid-friendly coping mechanism for anxiety.
How much should a weighted stuffed animal weigh?
Safety is essential when considering a weighted blanket or stuffed animal for your child.
A sensory tool should never be too heavy for a child to lift or remove on their own. The goal is for a child to feel safe and secure, not trapped.
Sleepfoundation.org recommends sticking with weighted blankets no more than 1-2 lbs over 10% of a child’s body weight.
Reputable weighted stuffed animal manufacturers, such as Fun and Function, echo 10% as the gold standard, noting a maximum size of 15% of a child’s body weight. You can read their full safety guide for therapeutic weighted products here.
Most weighted stuffed animals designed for children will fall between 2 and 5 lbs.
Always check manufacturer guidelines and actively supervise children when using weighted stuffed animals.
How do weighted stuffed animals help with anxiety in kids?
Research reviewed by the National Occupational Therapy Association suggests that sensory integration tools that use deep pressure, such as weighted blankets, may serve as an effective coping mechanism for anxiety.
Furthermore, another weighted blanket study conducted with families of children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and sleep problems revealed reduced anxiety and improved relaxation.
Weighted stuffed animals have emerged following the proven benefits of weighted blankets. They provide greater appeal for daytime use and on-the-go.
Benefits of Weighted Stuffed Animals
Weighted stuffed animals:
- Apply a similar pressure-based sensory experience as weighted blankets to relieve anxiety
- Come in soft, lovable characters that children naturally connect with
- Provide a great alternative to hugs (for children who do not respond well to physical touch or in professional settings where hugs are not an option)
- Provide an opportunity to teach developmentally appropriate coping and calming skills
- Can easily be incorporated into imaginative play or play therapy
How to choose a weighted stuffed animal for your child
When deciding on the most ideal weighted stuffed animal for your little one, you will want to consider the following factors:
Type of Animal/Character
For best results, select an animal your child is naturally drawn to or connects with.
Ensure your animal weighs no more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight.
Consider your child’s preferences such as long arms and legs that can wrap around them, or an animal that can be laid across their lap.
Weighted stuffed animals are typically filled with permanent or removable:
- Plastic pellets (typically polystyrene)
- Glass pellets
- Ceramic beads
- Grain or rice
- Steel sand
- Bean bags
Generally, plastic pellets are most popular among affordable, lighter-weight stuffed animals. Higher-end, heavier friends are often stuffed with glass microbeads.
To learn more about the pros/cons and differences between each type of filler, you can find a complete guide here.
Many weighted stuffed animals provide additional features, including:
- Removable weights that allow you to adjust based on your child’s growth
- Microwave-safe heating elements
- Cooling packs
Weighted Stuffed animals can range anywhere from $20-70.
A word of caution: You often get what you pay for when it comes to weighted stuffed animals.
Where should I buy weighted stuffed animals?
In my experience as a former professional schools counselor and parent, I have found the following companies are reputable, trustworthy, and provide high-quality weighted stuffed animals:
The best 2 to 5 lb weighted stuffed animals to help your child cope with anxiety
I thoughtfully crafted the following list to help you find the best weighted stuffed animal for your perfectly unique child or student.
You can either read through our complete list of favorites or skip ahead to your preferred category below based on your child’s size and sensory needs:
- Best Adjustable Weighted Animals
- Best 2 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best 3 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best 4 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best 5 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best Wrap-Around Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best Heatable Weighted Stuffed Animals
- Best Weighted Lap Pad Animals
Best Adjustable Weighted Animals
If you suspect your child will be with their furry friend for the long haul or if you are looking to meet the needs of multiple children, you may wish to consider an animal with adjustable weight.
Weight: 1.8 lb Harry holds up to 10lbs of additional weight (insertable weights are sold separately here).
Size: 18″L x 14″W x 37″
Material: Harry’s fur is similar to a shag-style rug, which adds a sensory effect! Fill his zippered plush tummy with any weights of your choosing.
Why We Love Him: Harry is among the biggest weighted buddies on our list. And he can grow right alongside your child! While a bit pricier, there will be no need to replace Harry when your child requires more weight.
Weight: Use individually or snapped together! The red turtle is .5 lb, the blue turtle is .75 lb, and the yellow turtle is 1 lb.
Size: Each turtle is 12″L x 12″W.
Material: Each turtle is made from safety-tested plush. All 3 have snaps that are oh-so-satisfying to click together!
Why We Love Them: These turtles provide the most versatility of all weighted stuffed animals on the market. They can be split up among multiple children, used as lap pads, or snapped together and slung over the shoulder for a deep-pressure calming effect.
Best 2 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Size: 12 x 6.5 x 6 inches
Material: Theo is plush on the outside and filled with lavender-scented ceramic beads. He can also be heated or cooled!
Why We Love Him: Theo has a loveable, lifelike appearance, similar to a Golden or Labrador Retriever. Kids easily connect with him! Theo is perfect for those who cannot otherwise access a real-live therapy dog.
Weight: 2.5 lbs
Size: 11.5 x 6 x 5 inches
Material: Chloe is plush on the outside and filled with lavender-scented ceramic beads. She can also be heated or cooled!
Why We Love Her: For some reason, cats are almost non-existent in the weighted stuffed animal world. Cat-people, sweet Chloe is your girl!
Weight: 1.7 lbs
Size: 65″L x 5″ circumference (at widest point)
Material: The worm is made from 88% polyester, 12% spandex, and stuffed with polystyrene pellets.
Why We Love It: Wrap-around animals can be incredibly soothing for anxious kids, but most are heavy and aim for deep pressure. If your child is small or does not love the extra weight, Fun and Function’s weighted worm is an excellent choice.
Best 3 lb Weighted Stuffed Animal
Weight: 3 lbs
Size: 14 inches tall
Material: This weighted teddy is made from 100% polyester and stuffed with 100% polyester fiber and 2-3 millimeter glass pellets.
Why We Love It: Fun and Function’s Weighted Teddy Bear is a classic choice that will appeal to diverse children. He is moderately priced and falls in the middle of the preferred 2-to-5 lb weighted stuffed animal range.
Weight: 3.3 lbs
Size: 30 inches long
Material: This weighted snake is made from sparkly Lycra® (polyester/spandex blend) and filled with non-toxic polyethylene beads.
Why We Love It: This Manimo weighted snake from Discount School Supply is heavy and thick enough for your child to use as a lap pad, but versatile enough to sling over their shoulder.
Best 4 lb Weighted Stuffed Animals
Weight: 4 lbs
Size: 14″L x 10″W
Material: Leo is made from polyurethane vinyl and stuffed with 100% polyester filling. He’s a rare breed in that he’s weighted with steel sand.
Why We Love It: Many of us know the hardship of having to wash a stuffed animal or favorite blanket your child is emotionally attached to! Leo wipes clean and never has to go out of commission.
Weight: 4.4 lbs
Size: 12 in x 7 in
Material: This weighted lizard is made from sparkly Lycra® (polyester/spandex blend) and filled with non-toxic plastic micro-beads.
Why We Love It: Does your child loves reptiles? If yes, then Manimo is the brand to know! They are high-quality and provide sparkly, calming magic kids consistently love.
Best 5 lb Weighted Stuffed Animal
Weight: 5 lbs
Size: 18 inches x 12 inches
Material: 100% PV fleece exterior (plus velcro), stuffed with polyester/cotton filling and glass beads.
Why We Love It: 5 lb weighted stuffed animals can be a tough find! This lap pad-style weighted stuffed dog is the clear winner. Its removable glass-bead weighted pad makes for easy washing and potential use inside an alternative exterior covers as your child matures.
Best Wrap-Around Weighted Stuffed Animal
Weight: 4 lbs
Size: The sloth’s body is approximately 18 inches long and 11 inches wide with 13-inch long arms and 16-inch long legs.
Material: 100% polyester exterior is stuffed with 100% polyester filling and polyethylene pellets.
Why We Love It: My #1 choice of all the 2 to 5 lb weighted stuffed animals on this list! The heavy hugger sloth by Fun and Function provides the closest thing to a real hug with handy “snap-on” features and a hidden zippered compartment to store extra treasures.
Best Heatable Weighted Stuffed Animal
If you’re specifically looking for a warmable (or cooling) weighted stuffed animal, it’s Warmies for the win!
Although we’ve chosen the classic Marshmallow Bear for our list, you can choose from well over 50 different Warmies friends to match your child’s interests.
Weight: 2 lbs
Material: The marshmallow bear has a plush exterior and is filled with lavender-scented, all-natural grain.
Why We Love It: Warm him in the microwave or cool him down in the freezer for unique sensory experiences! Warmies by Intelex is a highly reputable and affordable brand. Remember, safety is essential with heatable weighted friends.
Best Weighted Lap Pad Animal
Weight: 3 lbs
Size: 20″L x 8.5″W x 9″H
Material: This adorable llama lap pad has a 100% polyester plush exterior (with polyethylene plastic eyes). The interior is stuffed with 100% polyester fiber filling, weighted glass pellets, and removable gel-filled PVC heating and cooling pack.
Why We Love It: Lap pads are an ideal calming tool for children to use while in a seated position (e.g., circle time). The additional heating and cooling options of this llama friend go above and beyond to help anxious children!
The last thing you need to know about weighted stuffed animals
Weighted stuffed animals are adorable, comforting, and often an effective tool for children with anxiety.
At the same time, these toys should enhance, not replace, the love and support of caregivers.
To build a foundation in effective positive parenting that supports healthy social and emotional development in children, I invite you to join me in Such a Little While’s free 30-day positive parenting challenge:
You’ve got this!