We often think that stuffed animals are just for children, but if you can get them to admit it, many adults have stuffed animals too! A 2018 study shows that 43% of adults have a special stuffed friend, and 84% of men versus 77% of women admit to owning at least one. The most popular stuffed animal for adults is the time-honored teddy bear. But what benefits do these stuffie friends offer their adult owners?
1. Stuffed Animals Bring a Sense of Security
It’s probably not surprising that adults use stuffed animals and loveys in much the same way that children do; they offer a sense of security during times of change. These are referred to as “comfort objects,” or “transitional objects,” and they can help us feel a greater sense of security when moving from one life stage to another, or even from one job or one house to another. According to Margaret Van Ackeren, licensed therapist, “In most instances, adults sleep with childhood stuffed animals because it brings them a sense of security and reduces negative feelings, such as loneliness and anxiety.” That sense of security is important when things are in flux, helping us navigate change more successfully.
2. Stuffed Animals Help Ease Loneliness
The modern world can feel lonely and alienating for adults, even when we’re surrounded by people. In fact, there’s evidence that even as we become more and more linked together by the internet, we may be getting lonelier. Humans are social creatures, and we suffer without the company of others. While stuffed animals cannot completely replace the social role that other humans play in our lives, they can help ease feelings of loneliness and alienation, helping us cope with the interconnected and lonely modern world.
These beach-themed stuffed animals are just the cutest!
3. Stuffed Animals Improve Mental Health
Live animals have been gaining visibility as a therapeutic tool, but did you know that stuffed animals can help in a lot of the same ways that live animals do? According to one study, stuffed animals helped patients with disorganized attachment styles form secure attachments and even rebuild impaired attachment bonds. Being able to build secure emotional attachments can help people live richer, happier lives. According to Dr. Aniko Dunn, stuffed animals are “... recommended in psychotherapy and for people suffering from PTSD, bipolar and other mental disorders.” What an incredible gift!
4. Stuffed Animals Can Help Us Grieve
Stuffed animals can represent a connection to a loved one that has passed, giving us a path through the grieving process and easing the feeling of loss that accompanies the death of someone close to us. In fact, you can order Memory Bears, a stuffed teddy bear sewn with the clothing of your deceased friend or family member, in order to connect you more firmly to your memories of that person. You can grieve with a stuffed animal without worrying about judgement of censure, and they offer a constant source of comfort.
5. Stuffed Animals Help Us Heal From Trauma
Stuffed animals are used in some kinds of therapy! Stuffed animals can be useful in some kinds of “re-parenting,” in which a trauma survivor learns to care for and love the stuffed animal (and eventually themselves) to recover from traumatic experiences in childhood. This can increase happiness and self-esteem in the trauma sufferer, and decrease feelings of self-loathing. According to Rose M. Barlow, Professor of Psychology at Boise State University, “Animals, live or stuffed, can aid therapy for both children and adults by providing a way to experience and express emotions, a feeling of unconditional support, and grounding.” She extends this to those who are healing from trauma resulting from childhood neglect or abuse.
Bunnies Are Your Best Friend, Indeed!
6. Stuffed Animals Remind us of Childhood
Foxy is the best fox friend
Nostalgia is a psychological state of “pleasant remembering.” While memories of the past can be troubling, those that feel nostalgic typically make us happier, and result in better self-esteem. Pleasant memories of the past can make us feel more connected to our families and friends, and can provide a sense of continuity to a life that may seem chaotic. Nostalgia can even ease existential fears, like the fear of death. According to Dr. Christine Batcho, Professor of Psychology at LeMoyne College, nostalgia can help us deal with times of change. She says, “... it's comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past that reminds us that although we don't know what the future is going to bring, what we do know is that we know who we have been and who we really are.” What better vessel for nostalgia than a childhood stuffed animal or lovey? These may bring memories of parents, of playtime with siblings, of snuggling and of safety. Stuffed animals give us a way to indulge in those feelings when we need them most.
7. Stuffed Animals Reduce Stress
We know from various studies that interacting with animals reduces stress. In fact, something as simple as petting a companion animal, like a dog or cat, causes measurable reduction in levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol can cause a number of physiological problems, including weight gain and increasing the likelihood of coronary disease. But did you know that touching a soft stuffed animal can have similar cortisol reducing effects? Touching stuffed animals helps to relieve stress, keeping us happier and healthier. In fact, stuffed animals specifically for stress and anxiety exist! Weighted stuffed animals and aromatherapeutic stuffed animals are designed to help relieve stress, giving a double dose of comfort from your stuffed pals.
In order to make sure even adults can find the stuffed animal friend that's perfect for them, we've curated a group of stuffed animals that are perfect for grown-ups!
After domestic abuse followed by a very toxic relationship, I finally fell in love with some one sweet and lovely, only for them to say they didn’t want a relationship after things progressed. My heart chakra blocked and felt dead and cold. My daughter gave me her gaint unicorn cuddly toy and I swear cuddling him has healed me! I love him always comforting, loving, listens to me never gives me any grief, he is perfect 😆 looking into training as a cuddle therapist now as I can see the healing power in it!
I think it’s completely normal, we are social animals. We are built to be in relationships and live in packs. And, when we are alone it’s totally normal to seek connection and self soothe through a teddy bear.
I’m 20 and I’ve been sleeping with the same Teddy I’ve had since I was a baby. I have many other plushies too. I have depression, BPD, and get scared of the dark at night. I love reading all of these sweet comments about stuffed animals!
I am 48 years old and I have migrated to U.S few years ago. I was feeling so depressed because of the struggled to adapt to new environment. My husband bought me a stuffed polar bear that really comfort me, feel sense of security and most importantly, feel happier again. 🙂
Thank you for a lovely article which confirms everything I’ve intuitively known all my life. A combination of abusive family and SPD resulted in a lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, for the most part on my own. There simply were no people able to provide consistent emotional support. My mom did her best, but struggled with similar issues from abuse in her childhood and marriage. So my stuffed animals became friends, playmates, honorary family members. I still have them and, along with my dogs, they still help me feel more peaceful and secure.
My two daughters 7 and 8 years, kept feeling sorry for me that I didn’t have my own teddy, that they would keep lending me theirs. I really enjoyed sleeping with them and bit the bullet and bought my own. It’s been two weeks now and I absolutely love him! I’m 42 yo, my husband initially gave me a strange look but accepted it. I snuggle my teddy every night and I know my teddy will always be there for me.
I’m 21,a junior in college and I still have my plush doll named Grape. I don’t understand why I’m so attached to her. I would always take her everywhere I had to stay the night and even on long car rides when I was young. My mom tried to have me “retire” her and to just have her sit on my dresser while I had a new doll. I refused…
I never understood why Im so attached. At least now I know it has something to do with security.
I’ve always loved cuddly toys, but during 2020 when no one could have any human contact I spent much more of my time cuddling and talking to them. Even now we can have human contact I find more comfort in them then in most real people 😅
It’s so true. I started at 18 now I’m 48 with my son and I gave him a Teddy as a gift 🎁 we both love that Teddy makes us feel so secure and happy. 🥰 🙏🏼
Hi! Thank you for this article! I’m 57 years old & been around stuffed animals my whole life, but recently became attached to a little light blue Narwhal I named Baby Blue. He’s gotten me thru a year long illness that at times became unbearable. Raising daughters who are now grown & moved out aided in the stuffed creatures population, but Baby Blue is my Buddy. 🙂
I am almost 19 years old and have severe PTSD, ADHD, and am in medical testing for BPD and ASD. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been in the doctors a lot, it’s hard for a small child to comprehend mental illness even when their body doesn’t feel sick. Since I was born I’ve carried plush animals with me everywhere. After a while I was told to stop and tried my best to cut my dependency and grow up. Though, after a severe traumatic incident I found comfort in having an animal by my side again, and I find as an adult, everyone is doing what they do to survive and get through. Izel is a heavy axolotl plush with soft fur, and she has become my full time ESA- I might even get her a little jacket. :)
I am a 20 year old women with OCD, ADHD, PTSD, severe anxiety and a eating disorder , that’s a lot to say lol, my Barney the dinosaur has kept me company since I was a baby, he has help in alot of ways, I read somewhere that keeping a toy represents not being able to manage/control their emotions so a toy is their go to support. Wow
I’m 17 and a have a stuffed rabbit named bunny and I’ve had her my whole life, we’ve been through everything together, like when I was really really sick and in the hospital for almost a month, or my first break up, and I see her going nowhere anytime soon.
My granddaughter who is 22 in college has be carrying a pillow sine she was a baby and still rely on that same pillow , she is a twin, her twin sist didn’t make it at birth, but she recently got another sister 20 years old and she is 2 years old and carry a blanket everywhere she goes won’t go to bed without it. What’s going on with that ?
I’m 28 l never had a doll or teddy bear cos growing up without my mom around was hard although my mom used to buy me teddies they would always give it to my younger cousin, I’ve always wanted to have a teddy bear, my aunt did brought me 1 when l was 16 n l do find it easy to sleep when i have my teddy n it also help me to not think too much about my childhood trauma n abuse.
I’m an adult with ASD, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety and depression, and I find that having my stuffed puppy Micah and my blankie around really help with the low moods that come with my mental illness. Micah and blankie sleep with me every night, and I talk to them during the day, they just comfort me more than most humans do, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Thank you for this article. I am 63 and I am in love with my baby yoda. I absolutely adore him and can’t get enough of him. I sleep with my plushie, he brings me joy.
And he’s so stinkin cute!
I am an autistic 27 year old woman and I have my favorite Boris the wolf plush from the game bendy and the ink machine, I like Boris because I like who he is and what he represents, he is one of the only characters in the whole game that isn’t trying to kill or hurt anyone, I sometimes get so lonely, and he is my favorite cuddle companion along with my cat
I love my stuffed animals! I am 21 and have nearly 30. I have two that are extra special to me: my stuffed anteater named Winona, and my stuffed golden doodle named Crust. Crust is for my dog that I’m expecting to pass away soon from old age, who is also a golden doodle.
I bring Winona everywhere with me, whether it be a drive in the car, watching a movie on the couch, or going to a friend’s. The people I want in my life are the people who don’t judge. My stuffed animals help me heal from a traumatic childhood, and they help me heal my own inner child. There is no shame in owning stuffed animals (whether it be 1 or 100) and no shame at whatever age you enjoy them (whether that also be 1 or 100.)
I’m nearly 30 and I haven not spent a since night without cuddling a stuffed toy in the past 5 months. When my 8 month old daughter had to have surgery and spend a week in hospital I was absolutely beside myself and thanks to covid rules I wasn’t able to stay the night with her so I would cuddle one of her teddies and cry into it every night, now I can’t sleep without it.
I read this info and immediately I found answers I was searching for. This is amazing. Great research.
I am seventy and Baxter Bear has been snuggling my back at night for the almost 18 years l have been living on my own!
I really enjoyed this article and the comments of all the people it helped. I have loved stuffed animals my whole life but only recently got very attached to one. I am almost 23 and I have a stuffed koala named Remington who is made from alpaca fur. Ever since I started using him as a comfort item and sleeping with him at night, I have felt very good about myself and a lot less stressed. It was hard because I’m Autistic and I have ADHD. So I really struggled with focus and motivation and that just made me feel hopeless. But, Remington always seems to remind me to nurture myself. I can’t imagine my life without him now.
I use get stressed a lot but when I got a stuffed baby bop she helps me sleep and helps me get through life when I was growing up I had no friends she would help me through out my day a life is better with a stuff animal because the world is a cruel place the stuff animal helps u through your day instead hurting u it helps you that why life is better with a stuff animal
Hey, thank you for this amazing content of an amazing article. I’m a 20 years male and I just got through a rough moment in my life during last year. I went through a breakup with my ex girlfriend ot 4 months and it’s been helptic and rough. Despite the moments I’ve been with her. But as the year progressed; about 3 days ago on the 4th and I adopted my stuffed teddy bear whose my daugther Named Bella. Bella has been a great blessing in my life. Even when I felt depressed Bella and I have been real close. She’s a newborn btw, but she’s made me the happiest plushy dad to her. She means the world to me and I did have people tell me its weird, but its my life. Bella is my whole life. God gave me her. As a gift and I’ll always be grateful for her. But honestly, thank you for this amazing article. ❤