12 Best Stuffed Animals for Babies

Your Guide to Plush Baby Toys

A soft, cuddly animal is likely to be the very first toy you buy for your baby, maybe even before they’re born. More will surely come their way from family and friends. So, which are the best stuffed animals for babies, and are some better than others in terms of design and the benefits they offer?

I answer both those questions in this article, plus many more that will guide you to the perfect plush animal toys for your little one.

best stuffed animals for babiesWhich stuffed animal toy will be your baby's favorite?

Whether you're an expectant parent, a new mom or dad, or a seasoned pro with a new addition to the family, I've got you covered. Join me as we explore the world of stuffed animals where cuddles and companionship meet discovery and development.

Why Stuffed Animals Matter

11 Key Benefits of Plush Toys

For your baby, a stuffed animal is a companion that can soothe, entertain, and support their development.

Your little one was born with an innate desire to explore their world, and their favorite cuddly character will also become their first exploratory partner, initially as the object of their sensory exploration, and then, as a friend on their journeys of discovery.

Here are some of the benefits stuffed animals can offer your little one in their first year of life:

1. Comfort and Security

Stuffed animals provide a sense of comfort and security. Their soft, plush textures and familiar presence will soothe and calm your baby, helping them feel safe and relaxed.

2. Transition and Sleep Aid

Many babies find comfort in cuddling a stuffed animal at naptime or bedtime. This can ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep and provide a familiar, comforting presence during the night.

3. Attachment and Bonding

Babies often form strong emotional attachments to their stuffed animals, which can aid in the development of secure attachment bonds with parents and caregivers. These attachments can provide a sense of stability and trust for your little one.

4. Emotional Expression

Babies often use stuffed animals to express their emotions and feelings. They seek comfort from their stuffed friend when upset, hug them when happy, and later, engage in imaginative play with them.

5. Independence and Self-Soothing

As they develop, your baby will use stuffed animals for self-soothing. Being able to reach for their favorite toy will give them a sense of independence and control over their emotions.

6. Sensory Stimulation

Exploring the various textures, colors, and shapes of their soft toys with their hands and mouths helps your baby to develop their tactile and oral sensory skills.

7. Motor Skills

Your little one will grasp, squeeze, and manipulate their soft toys and in so doing, improve their fine motor skills. These interactions contribute to hand-eye coordination and the development of dexterity.

8. Cognitive Development

Stuffed animals can be used to introduce your baby to cause-and-effect relationships. For example, pressing a button on a musical plush toy will teach them that their actions can produce sounds or movements.

I’m sure you’re beginning to see why it’s important to choose the very best stuffed animals for babies.

9. Language Development

Stuffed animals can become conversation partners for babies. As parents, we often engage in dialogue with our baby’s teddy or rabbit without even thinking about it. Whether it’s while playing peek-a-boo with them, calling for them when mislaid or playing hide-and-seek, these simple dialogues introduce our baby to basic words and support early language development.

10. Imaginative Play

As your baby transitions into toddlerhood, stuffed animals will become companions for imaginative play. They’ll take on various roles in your child's make-believe scenarios, fostering creativity and storytelling skills.

11. Comfort During Separation

One of the most important roles of any stuffed animal is to provide comfort when your little one experiences separation anxiety. Having a familiar toy can make transitions, such as leaving for daycare or being cared for by a babysitter, smoother for both your baby and the caregiver.

Before we dive into my list of the 12 best stuffed animals for babies, I want to raise a few things for your consideration when making your choices.

I‘ve taken them all into consideration in my reviews but they’re important to keep in mind when you’re doing your own search for new plush playmates for your little one.

stuffed animals for babiesEvery baby needs a soft toy to snuggle.

4 Top Tips For Choosing the

Perfect Stuffed Animal for Your Baby

1. Safety First

Safety comes first, always. Opt for toys that are free from small parts, buttons, or loose threads that could pose choking hazards. Ensure the toy complies with safety standards and is suitable for the age of your baby. Look for plush toys with soft, hypoallergenic materials that are gentle on your baby's delicate skin.

2. Size Matters

Consider the size of the stuffed animal in relation to your baby. For newborns, smaller and lighter toys are ideal, while older babies will be fine with larger companions. A stuffed animal that's easy for your baby to grasp and cuddle is a winner.

3. Additional Features

Stuffed animals can be more than just soft. Many come with interactive features like crinkly ears, rattles, or squeakers that capture your baby's attention. These features will engage your little one's senses and encourage exploration. Other plush toys talk and play songs for additional engagement and learning.

It's a good idea to have a variety of stuffed animals, but avoid overwhelming your baby with too many at once. Start with soft toys during the first few months, and gradually introduce more interactive options as your baby grows and becomes more curious and more dexterous. Rotate them to keep things fresh and exciting but don’t deprive them of their favorite friend and comforter.

4. Keeping Them Clean

Your baby’s cuddly companions will get grubby on a regular basis even without spills and other mishaps. Choose machine-washable toys when possible, and follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to avoid damaging treasured toys. Ensure that stuffed animals are completely dry before returning them to your baby.

12 Best Stuffed Animals for Babies

1. Pro Goleem Elephant Security Blanket

A snuggly security blanket makes an excellent first stuffed animal for newborns. It can be cuddled by even the smallest of babies and held by the tiniest of hands. The 16” x 16” blanket part of this adorable elephant security blanket is double-layered, having velvety minky dot fabric on top and a smooth satin underside, and the whole toy is machine-washable. There are 12 other cute characters to choose from including a teddy, a puppy, a rabbit, and a duck.

2. Mary Meyer Lovey Oatmeal Bunny

A similar type of first soft toy, being part blanket, part stuffed animal, is this dear little rabbit that is just crying out to be hugged. Oatmeal Bunny is made from softly textured white and golden brown fabric, and has satin trim in its ears and embroidered eyes. At 10 x 13 inches square, it's just the ideal size for cuddling and carrying. Just pop it on a gentle machine wash cycle when it needs a wash.

3. Mary Meyer Putty Teddy Bear 

Every baby needs a teddy bear and the Mary Meyer Putty Bear is the one I recommend for young babies. Ultra soft and snuggly, with such a sweet smile, it will become a valued comforter and companion for your little one for months and years to come. It’s 11 inches tall so just the right size to cuddle, and it’s washing machine safe.

4. John N Tree Organic Cotton Bunny

This cute bunny is one of the best stuffed animals for babies who suffer from skin conditions or allergies. Its body is made from super soft 100% organically grown cotton and the filling is hypoallergenic polyester filling, so recommended for sensitive skin. As no bleaches or dyes have been used in making this lovely toy, It comes in a gentle, natural color. Bunny is 15.7 inches tall and easy to wash.

5. ebba Loppy Plush Giraffe

Babies seem to love giraffes and this is one of the cuddliest around. At 11 inches tall, it’s ideal for babies of all ages from newborns to near toddlers who will want to carry it around with them as they become more mobile. The under-stuffed legs and neck make it very floppy so easy to hold and ultra snuggly. The facial features are embroidered on, so no loose button eyes to worry about. Loppy Giraffe is washable.

6. BenBen Dinosaur Stuffed Animals – 5 Pack

My next two picks of the best stuffed animals for babies are sets of plush toys. First, we have a set of adorable dinosaurs each measuring 5 to 6 inches long. They come with a large dino egg carrying case for storage. What I particularly like about soft toy sets is that the animals are small, so perfect for little hands to hold, and they help your baby develop discrimination skills as they differentiate between the toys and choose which one to play with at any one time. I wonder which little dinosaur will be your little one’s favorite. They are surface washable.

7. Bundaloo Plush Mini Zoo Playset – 4 Pack

Zoo animals are forever popular with babies and this delightful set with its colorful carry case includes four of the most familiar – a lion, an elephant, a giraffe, and a zebra – ranging in size from 4” to 6.5” in length. Each animal comes to life with their own unique sounds when squeezed. The sounds aren’t very realistic but my little toy testers loved this interactive element regardless. This set is suitable for babies of all ages and is great for imaginative play sessions as your baby develops. Wash them on a gentle cycle.

8. GUND Peek-A-Boo Teddy Bear

GUND is one of America’s oldest soft toy makers and has been crafting teddy bears and stuffed animals for over 125 years. You can be sure of high quality with this brand which is why two of their soft toys feature in my list of the best stuffed animals for babies. With this 11.5” Peek-a-Boo Bear, we are moving away from plush animals designed just for comfort and cuddles to interactive toys. At the push of a button, the bear recites one of six different phrases as it hides behind its soft blanket. It then pops back out to delight your little one in an exciting interactive game of peek-a-boo. Be prepared for lots of giggles. This bear is surface washable for easy cleaning.

9. GUND Flappy The Singing Elephant

The second GUND toy that makes my list (and there are many more that are equally as good) is possibly their most popular; Flappy The Singing Elephant. Flappy, as well as being very soft and cuddly, sings songs when his right foot is pressed while flapping his ears to the rhythm. Press the left foot for your baby to play a game of peek-a-boo with Flappy as he hides behind those large ears, then pops out to surprise them. There are five other characters in the series in case elephants aren’t your baby’s thing – Penguin, Monkey, Rabbit, Unicorn, and Puppy – each of which performs its own unique action. All are surface washable.

10. COTTONEBEBE Organic Cotton Lullaby Bunny

Next, we have another bunny that’s safe for babies with sensitive skin. Made from 60% organic cotton and 40% bamboo fiber, it’s beautifully soft for allergy free cuddling. Lullaby Bunny, as the name suggests, sings songs to soothe your little one. Just pulls its tail for 55 seconds of gentle lullabies. For added amusement, and to aid your little one’s sensory development, Bunny has crinkle ears, a squeaker in its head, and a rattle in its body. It’s washable with care.

11. Baby Einstein Musical Octoplush

You’ll see this wonderful plush octopus pop up in several different articles on Play Learn Toyz. It’s that good. It’s infinitely huggable, cute beyond measure, and has lots of learning potential built in. Octoplush is an excellent tactile toy for sensory experience with a furry body and leg uppers, and a textured underside in a high contrast black and white design to aid the development of your baby’s vision. Each of the eight legs has a different colored picture embroidered on it for color learning. When your toddler squeezes the head, they are rewarded with a gentle melody. A must for every baby in my opinion.

12. Bright Starts Hug-a-bye Baby Elephant

This gorgeous little elephant is great for cuddling but also doubles as a soother for placing beside your little one’s crib at nap or bedtime, or to calm them when fussy or upset. The music mode, activated with the squeeze of the left foot, can be set for 20 minutes of continuous play or a single lullaby. Elephant’s tummy emits a comforting color-changing glow which is wonderfully soothing. For tactile exploration, Elephant has crinkle ears and brightly colored tags on its head. For cleaning, just wipe it down with a damp cloth and mild soap.

If you feel your baby is ready to move on to some more advanced stuffed animal toys, check out my review of the 22 Best Stuffed Animals For Toddlers.

Final Words

In summary, the best stuffed animals for babies not only provide comfort but also support the development of essential life skills. We should never underestimate their significance in our little ones’ lives.

Many of us remember our earliest plush toys with great affection, and may even still own and treasure them in our adult life. I hope you find the perfect soft animal toys for your little one that will become special in their life too.

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About Jacky Spear

Jacky Spear passionately promotes learning toys for child development. With 30+ years of teaching experience, she understands the power of play in engaging and nurturing children, including those with special needs. Drawing from personal experience in both the school and home environment, Jacky helps parents to select the best learning toys to unlock their children's potential and create a lifelong love for learning. Learn more about Jacky >>

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