The Best Stuffed Animals for Babies and Toddlers to Cuddle Up With

Your kiddo will soon be inseparable from these cute, cuddly stuffed animals and plush toys.
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Associate Editor
August 5, 2022
best stuffed animals for newborns, babies, and toddlers 2022
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Babies and toddlers adore stuffed animals and plush toys. Why? Stuffed animals make perfect playtime companions and offer little kids comfort when they’re working through some big feelings.

New parents will soon find themselves sharing their home with a whole menagerie of stuffed animals. But that doesn’t mean you should give baby any old toy. The best stuffed animals for babies and toddlers are cute, huggably soft and well made to safely withstand endless play.

Adorable plush toys make wonderful gifts too. Whether you’re a friend shopping for a baby shower gift or a caregiver looking for a first birthday present, here you’ll find the best stuffed animals for newborns, babies and toddlers. From classic teddy bears to knitted dolls and furry critters, scroll down to find the perfect cuddle companion for the little one in your life.

When Can Baby Sleep With a Stuffed Animal?

Babies shouldn’t sleep with stuffed animals and plush toys in their cribs until they’re at least 12 months old. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), soft objects—such as plush toys, loose bedding and pillows—should be kept out of baby’s sleep area to reduce the risk of overheating, suffocation, strangulation and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Tips for Choosing a Safe Stuffed Animal for Babies and Toddlers

The best stuffed animals aren’t just utterly adorable, they’re also reliably safe. Here are the main toy safety considerations to keep in mind when shopping for soft toys:

  • Check toys for loose parts: Plush toys with plastic eyes and long strings or ribbons can pose a choking hazard for young children. When possible, opt for stuffed animals with embroidered or heat-sealed eyes, and check to make sure that there are no loose parts before giving the toy to baby. It’s also important to check toys for loose parts or general wear and tear on a regular basis.

  • Invest in stuffed animals that are well made: Quality toys will withstand even the most rambunctious toddler games. Look for stuffed animals that are machine-washable, and check that the seams and edges are tight so no stuffing comes loose during play.

  • Choose stuffed animals that are appropriate for your child’s age: Always read the brand’s age guidelines to ensure that the toy is suitable for your child’s developmental stage.

Best Stuffed Animals for Newborns

A plush toy is the perfect present to welcome a new baby into the family. From super-snuggly bunnies to soothing sensory toys, these are our picks for the best stuffed animals for infants. And because safety is so important, all of the toys in this category have embroidered features to reduce the risk of choking.

Image: GUND

GUND Oh So Snuggly Hippo Plush

You can’t beat a classic stuffed animal, which is why we love this snuggly hippo by GUND. This cute fella has embroidered details and a quilted belly that promotes tactile play. And because having a newborn can be messy business, this plush toy is machine washable.

Buy it: $15,

Image: CuddleMeToys/Etsy

Cuddle Me Toys Preemie Crochet Octopus Stuffed Animal

Some stuffed animals and plush toys offer soothing, sensory benefits. Case in point: This crochet octopus that was specially designed for preemies and newborns in the NICU. Handcrafted from cotton yarn, this sea creature has eight curly tentacles that baby can touch. It’s made in a smoke- and pet-free environment and is carefully sanitized, so it’s safe for even the most vulnerable infants.

Buy it: $27,

Image: cuddle + kind

cuddle + kind Sebastian the Lamb Stuffed Animal

Ready to splash some cash? Cuddle + kind is among the best stuffed animal brands on the market right now. Crafted by artisans in Peru, this adorable knitted lamb is made from 100 percent premium cotton and naturally hypoallergenic stuffing. The best part? This is a company that gives back. For every doll purchased, cuddle + kind will donate 10 meals to children in need, making the price point much more justifiable.

Buy it: $57,

Image: Meri Meri

Meri Meri Banana Baby Rattle

This fruity option is one of the cutest stuffed animals we’ve seen. Crafted from organic cotton, this playful banana is decorated with delicate embroidery for added safety. It also doubles as a rattle, making it a good choice for newborns and older babies.

Buy it: $27,

Image: Little Giraffe

Little Giraffe Little G Plush Stuffed Animal

Looking for a gender-neutral option? Check out this adorable plush toy. The little giraffe, with super-soft spots, comes in three muted color variations. How’s that for a sweet stuffed animal for newborns?

Buy it: $48,

Image: Douglas

Douglas Demitri Dragon Starlight Musical

Here’s yet another plush toy that’ll mesmerize newborn babies: The Douglas Demitri Dragon. Not only is this toy soft and cuddly, it projects a captivating display of the night sky and plays soothing lullabies. After five minutes of continuous play, the music will fade, allowing your little one to peacefully drift off to sleep. (Just remember that it shouldn’t be in the crib with baby.) Still, any toy that makes bedtime easier is a winner in our book.

Buy it: $38,

Image: Barefoot Dreams

Barefoot Dreams Buddie Seahorse

Barefoot Dreams makes incredibly cozy baby blankets and loungewear—but did you know they make plush toys too? This sleepy seahorse is machine-washable and has embroidered features, meaning it’s 100 percent baby-safe. Woohoo!

Buy it: $58,

Best Stuffed Animals for Babies

As babies grow older and gain new fine motor skills, they begin to explore the world—and toys—around them with their hands and with their mouths (of course!). Read on to discover our pick of the best stuffed animals for babies, from classic teddy bears to cuddly rattle toys and more.

Image: Steiff

Steiff Kid’s My First Steiff Bear

How about a classic teddy bear? The creators at Steiff are masters of their trade, as they have been crafting hand-sewn toys since 1902, and still use the same artisan techniques to this very day. The result? Quality stuffed animals that are huggably soft and worthy of baby’s growing collection. One thing to note is that this bear does have a button in its ear, so remember to check for loose parts on the regular.

Buy it: $29,

Image: Jellycat

Jellycat Odell Octopus Stuffed Animal

Jellycat stuffed animals are super-popular—and with good reason. This adorable plush octopus has eight floppy tentacles that babies will love to manipulate (hello, fine motor skills!). Plus, it’s super-soft and cute to boot.

Buy it: $28,

Image: Warmies

Warmies Sloth My First Warmies

Looking for something a little different? Warmies are stuffed animal toys you can heat up in the microwave to provide up to an hour of warming comfort. (You can also chill them in the freezer for cooling relief.) They’re made from soft plush fabric with satin accents on the feet that baby will love to stroke. Warmies come in a range of characters and sizes, but we love this sleepy sloth. Bonus: The toy is scented with French lavender, which has naturally soothing qualities.

Buy it: $30,

Image: GUND

GUND Flappy the Elephant Musical Stuffed Toy

Around the seven-month mark, baby begins to copy sounds and gestures. This interactive plush toy supports this developmental milestone with adorable results. The musical toy has two fun play modes—press the left foot to play a game of peek-a-boo and the right to hear the tune “Do Your Ears Hang Low” in a sing-song voice.

Buy it: $45,

Image: Finn and Emma

Finn + Emma Honey the Bee Rattle Buddy

This hand-knit stuffed animal is sweet as honey. It’s made from GOTs-certified organic cotton and has a rattle inside, meaning baby will have a buzzy blast shaking and squeezing their new friend. At only 8” tall, it’s the perfect size for tiny hands. Plus, the neutral yellow color makes this a perfect gift for little boys and girls.

Buy it: $28,

Image: Douglas

Douglas Miffy Sshlumpie

Half blanket, half stuffed animal, this bunny will be baby’s new BFF. Understuffed and ultra-soft, it can be laid flat on the floor for tummy time or squished up for comforting cuddles. It’s super-safe, thanks to its embroidered features. Better yet, it’s lightweight and small enough for little hands to clutch when you embark on new adventures.

Buy it: $27,

Image: Pottery Barn Kids

Pottery Barn Kids Winnie The Pooh Plush

Pottery Barn Kids is another great place to find stuffed animals and plush toys. Introduce your kid to a beloved character from your childhood with this jolly Winnie the Pooh teddy bear. He’s oh-so-soft and has embroidered features, meaning it’s 100 percent baby-friendly.

Buy it: $49,

Image: Lambs & Ivy

Lambs & Ivy Jungle Safari Gray Plush Elephant Stuffed Animal Toy

The best stuffed animals for infants are snuggly, sweet and practical. And that’s where this best-selling (not to mention adorable) elephant plush toy comes in. It’s got no hard parts, is machine-washable and sits upright meaning it won’t topple over during playtime. This cuddly toy is the perfect gift for newborns and up.

Buy it: $20,

Best Stuffed Animals for Toddlers

Searching for stuffed animals toddlers will adore? You’re in luck! There are plenty of cute plush toys on the market that’ll keep tots happy and entertained. Our favorites include a patchwork elephant, a soothing lovey and a cool option that transforms into a wearable hoodie.

Image: Jellycat

Jellycat Grey Bunny Soother Blanket

A lovey is doubly adorable as tots can use it as a security blanket and a cuddly toy. This option has a plush bunny hugging the edge with long floppy ears (perfect for grabbing and gumming). How sweet! Suitable for ages one and up.

Buy it: $24,

Image: Slumberkins

Slumberkins Dragon Snuggler

Here at The Bump, we’re big fans of Slumberkins, a brand that specializes in products that build social-emotional skills in little kids. Each plush toy is inspired by a different theme, such as gratitude, mindfulness and self-esteem. We like the Dragon Snuggler, which comes with a board book and affirmation cards that promote creativity and emphasize the importance of imaginative play.

Buy it: $48,

Image: Squishmallows

Squishmallows Faldette the Fox 11" Plush

Squishmallows is a stuffed animal brand taking the world by storm. Each member of the squad has a unique personality, but we like this mini fox. It’s incredibly soft and squeezable, and at only 11” tall, it’s the perfect size for toddler hugs.

Buy it: $10,

Image: Melissa and Doug

Melissa And Doug Baby Panda Stuffed Animal

Animal-obsessed toddlers are sure to appreciate this baby stuffed animal. Made with huggably soft fabric, the panda comes with an adoption certificate, care checklist and fun facts about animals in the wild. One thing’s for sure—this sweet bear will make a top-notch cuddle companion.

Buy it: $25,

Image: Fly Little Bird

Fly Little Bird 14" Elephant Stuffie

The best stuffed animals for toddlers spark little imaginations. That’s why we adore this whimsical circus elephant. The mix of soft, textured fabrics and bright patterns will inspire your child during playtime. Plus, the long arms and legs are easy for small kids to grab and hold onto for comforting cuddles. It’s made from recycled cashmere and cotton, so it’s luxuriously soft and perfect for snuggles. Better yet, Fly Little Bird donates 10 percent of each sale to Donate Life America.

Buy it: $58,

Image: Manhattan Toy

Manhattan Toy Voyagers Ernesto Llama 11" Plush Toy

On the hunt for stuffed animal toys your tot can bring everywhere? This lovely llama is the perfect size for little hands to grab and hold. The ultra-soft fabric is complemented by a strokeable furry mane and adorable tail. The llama also has weighted feet so it’ll stand upright when your toddler is tired of toting it around.

Buy it: $20,

Image: Cubcoats

Cubcoats Kids’ Uki Unicorn 2-in-1 Stuffed Animal Hoodie

Last up on our list of the best stuffed animals is this innovative two-in-one plush toy and hoodie by Cub Coats. Yep, that’s right—this soft toy transforms from a unicorn into a hoodie in a matter of seconds. It’s made from super-cozy washable cotton, and once your kid outgrows the jacket, they can keep the cuddly toy. Genius!

Buy it: $45,

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