The Best Stuffed Animals for Your Child to Sleep With

Especially at night, young children use stuffed animals for security. Find the best stuffed animals for your child to sleep with and make bedtime a whole lot easier.

By Sheryl Grassie

Stuffed animals serve a very important purpose in your child’s life. They act as a surrogate, or transitional object, and help them feel secure when mommy and daddy can’t be there. A stuffed animal can make it easier for your child to fall asleep on their own and go back to sleep if they wake in the middle of the night.

Whether you are looking for the perfect baby gift for a dear friend, a birthday present for a young niece or nephew, or a transitional object for your toddler, stuffed animals are always a great choice. Here are some considerations when choosing a stuffed animal and our top picks for the best stuffed animals for your child to sleep with.

Our Top Picks for the Best Stuffed Animals for Your Child to Sleep With

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Dordor & Gorgor Organic Plush Toy Elephant

The Dordor & Gorgor elephant is an adorable little friend that is free from any buttons, ribbons, or ties. This stuffed animal has a naturally dyed organic cotton exterior with a hypoallergenic fill. Made from soft terry cloth and machine washable, there are no chemicals or flame retardants—this little elephant is baby-safe. The company also makes a stuffed bunny that is equally adorable.

  • Price: $12.99
  • Size: 7″ x 5″ x 9″
  • Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars, 60 reviews

John N Tree Cloud Lamb, Organic Cotton Baby Protective Pillow 

Another great organic option, the Cloud Lamb is a stuffed animal that is also a pillow. Perfect for sleep and also for baby to cuddle with. This sweet lamb carries the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, a world-wide recognition of organic standards in textiles. Safe for next to baby’s skin, there are no harmful fumes to inhale while they sleep. It also comes in other animals types including a dog, an elephant, and a horse. Not to mention machine washable to clean baby spit up and drool.

  • Price: $18.95 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars, 950 reviews

Apple Park Organic Toys Organic Farm Buddies Frenchy Fox 

This company’s mission is to create unique, lovable, and stimulating toys that are organic and sustainable. Frenchy Fox is a colorful and engaging character for a young child. The Organic Farm Buddies line is full of bright and fun animals that include a variety from the farm, like a cow and pig, and animals from the wild like a giraffe, a raccoon, and a moose. They have a 100% organic cotton cover, a sustainable corn-fiber fill, and use only recycled paper in their packaging, along with soy dyes. Either spot clean or hand wash and tumble dry low.

  • Price: $17.00 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars, 206 reviews

Jellycat Fuddlewuddle Elephant

Made by Jellycat in London, UK, this amazingly soft elephant invites cuddling. It is made of polyester with small plastic eyes and is suitable for young children. Jellycat has a line of these loveable animals including a lion, a giraffe, a hippo, and a puppy. Care instructions recommend spot cleaning.

  • Price: $25.00 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Size: 9”
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, 12 reviews

Aurora World Merry Hedgehog

Get one or buy several of these charming and affordable little creatures. They are small and portable: great for travel. They will engage your child’s imagination and make wonderful friends to snuggle with for nighttime. Spot clean for any stains or spills.

  • Price: $7.37 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Size: 5”
  • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, 42 reviews

Wild Republic Huggers Giraffe Plush Toy

The Huggers line from Wild Republic has a large selection of different animals in addition to the giraffe we are profiling. Real and imagined, land and sea creatures, these stuffed plush toys can be wrapped around children’s wrists, arms, and legs for lots of fun and play. Wild safari animals, scary bats, and everything from sloths to eagles, your child can collect them and create endless scenarios for amusement. They are well constructed, durable, and require spot cleaning.

  • Price: $9.74 (price varies for other animal types)
  • Size: 8”
  • Rating: 5 stars, 233 reviews

The Purpose of a Stuffed Animal

Stuffed animals serve many purposes in a child’s life. They can help when parents leave for work or go out for the evening, and children are left with grandma or a babysitter. Stuffed toys can be taken along when traveling for added comfort in new places. They can act as the quintessential transitional object to help children go to sleep and feel safe overnight.

Your child’s stuffed animals also help your child learn. From the very beginning, they are learning about touch, texture, temperature, and the language that goes with their animal. He may be soft, warm, and furry. His eyes may be cold and smooth. His hair may tickle and scratch.

Children learn some of their earliest concepts and language in relation to the objects that are close to them. As they get older, and their capacity for language expands, they learn the use of descriptors in relation to their stuffed toys; “Josie is a fat and funny elephant, she likes to drink cold water. Today Josie wants to wear her yellow hat.” Language and learning explode in relation to these very essential childhood toys.

As children age further, their stuffed animals help them develop emotionally. They form attachments to their stuffed creatures, have conversations with them, role play imaginary scenarios with them, and take comfort from them. By naming their emotional characteristics, they learn to understand their own feelings. “My bear, Pedro, is angry at Daddy,” may be a precursor to a child’s ability to recognize their own upset feelings and communicate it more directly: “I’m mad at Daddy.”

Stuffed animals open up the world through exposure to the way creatures live in other parts of the world. From a lion in Africa, to a Sloth in South America, stuffed toys can teach about all kinds of interesting creatures and habitats.

Age Appropriate: Choose a Stuffed Animal Based on Age

Infants (Birth to 1 year)

Babies need simple, soft, and safe when it comes to stuffed animals. For an infant, a stuffed animal is not yet recognizable as an animal, and they are content with simple forms. Infant toys are generally less detailed to match the infant’s world, which is still undefined. Next, they need their stuffed toys to be soft in order to bring pleasure and be soothing to the skin.

Lastly, babies need their stuffed animals to be safe. Safe means free from buttons, ribbons, or elaborate embellishments that might present a choking hazard. Additionally, they need to be free from harmful chemicals because toys at this age go directly into the baby’s mouth. Add a stuffed animal that can be thrown in the wash to your criteria for good hygiene and easy care.

Toddlers (Ages: 1-4)

The world takes shape as children start to age. They have language and can define the things around then. They know what a bunny, a horse, a bear, a dog, and an elephant are by name and shape. Stuffed animals for the very young may be a blend of several animals. They do not usually have any gender specifics like clothes or anatomy contours, and are not usually identifiable as a boy or girl. But for the toddler verses the infant, they may have more color and more frills.

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Many toddlers still put stuffed animals in their mouths and the toys need to be safe from buttons, eyes, or small parts that can be pulled off and present a choking hazard. This is also an age group where sleeping cuddled with their favorite stuffed animal is the norm. That means that stuffed animals may be next to the face all night, and being chemical free is still important. Look for machine wash or spot clean for easy care.

School Age (Ages 4-8)

Children in this age category are still very attached to their stuffed animals and still sleep with them most of the time. Their stuffed toys, however, may take on a more realistic appearance, looking like miniatures of the real thing. Children are interested in the life of the animal, how they live, and what they eat. They may hold tea parties for them, take them on outings, and of course, cuddle with them at bedtime.


Stuffed animals are not just inconsequential toys. They provide security, help with emotional growth, and contribute to a child’s learning. They are a wonderful form of “security blanket” for children to sleep with.

Choose age appropriate plush toys for safety and to encourage curiosity. Consider organic options for babies to minimize chemical exposure. Choose more realistic and detailed animals as your child gets older.

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