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.
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!
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. ❤
I’m 34 now and have my fav teddy with me at all times. He travels whenever I travel. Bought him about 11 years ago and my mum loves him too. Teddy will stay with me for life.
I’m sixteen and most teens think i am weird for having bunbun, but icant be without her, i have had many bad things happen, and i have many mental health conditions including asd,but idc what people think of me, so i got this stuffed bunny after not getting one for two birthdays due to covid. She goes everywhere with me,and i will sleep with her for the rest of my life.
Sleeping with a stuffed animal gives me security security I’m 61 and also sleep with a 6 pound weighted blanket for my PTSD and it helps me feel safe
I still sleep with a stuffed animal for security I also sleep with a weighted blanket which helps me with my PTSD
I have to thank you for this post. I have depression and anxiety and spending time with my stuffed animals makes it better. I don’t get along well my family and don’t have any friends. I broke up with ex in February and my stuffed animals have doubled in amount. My stuffed animals even help with school stress and loneliness.
I am 71 years old, retired. And I just recently found a perfect soft little teddy bear who I love to watch tv with and take to bed. I am married sand my husband supports this new development. He see how it soothes me and makes me happy drug free.
This article makes me feel a lot better. My parents bought me my stuffed dog Max when I was 3. I couldn’t sleep without him and he would even show up in my nightmares comforting me. As I got older I put him in a basket with the rest of my stuffed animals, and he stayed there until last year. I was was dealing with anxiety and I decided to snuggle with him for the night, and I haven’t slept without him since. Though there was one night where I went to visit family and I forgot him, once I realized it I started to panic and cry. I tried to substitute him for a pillow but it wasn’t the same. I hadn’t realized how much I needed him until that night.
I’m Thought I was crazy when I talk to and put “Mybare” on my bed.. I’ll talk to her about anything.. Thank you for posting…
I sleep and hang out with my stuffy Gary the unicorn. I live alone and work from home, so it’s nice to have a hug buddy. Sometimes when I have a great day we dance 🤣!
I love stuffed animals from national parks 🏞 it helps me stay in my happy place 😇
Thank you for this article :) I’m already 21 years old and I always carry my stuffed cat in my house since I was 8 years old. I can’t sleep without my stuffed cat, also it is the first thing that I find when I wake up in the morning. Out of nowhere, I thought my habits are signs of being an immature, but thanks to this article I finally know why I’m acting like this :) Thank you so much!
I started to collect stuffed animals after I had alot of family members pass away in 2017. It was especially hard on me as my 17 cat who I had raised (and was my version of a child) also passed. Unfortunately my parents constantly criticize me and my dad especially makes fun of me. I have finally found some love in my family and I get even more emotionally hurt.
I have been very lonely since the beginning of the pandemic. My family is always very busy and I don’t have anyone to talk to or text. My mom won’t allow me to have friends. She wouldn’t even allow me to text relatives because she thinks that I might bother them. I have actually cried because of how lonely I felt.
I have had stuffed animals pre-covid, but my collection have more than doubled in size during the past year because I wanted some more company.
Thanks for this article. I lost my GF of 6 and a half years to cancer in June 2021. She loved her stuffed pigs. I would play Piggley with her to comfort her before her passing. I kept all the stuffed pigs and cuddle them alot. I even sleep with a few of them. I am a 6’4" 46 year old male and wondered if it was okay for me to do that. As I had never done that as an adult, but they seem to help me in the grieving process. Glad to know its not only okay, but also therapeutic and beneficial when you lose a loved one.
I’m a 51 female and I have a 20 year old daughter. We have 3 teddy bears and a stuffed dog. We are all a family together. Our real family is not really around so we created our own. They make us so happy. We talk for them and talk to them just like they are real. We sleep with them and even pretend to feed them. This may be strange but I also have trauma and anxiety. The comfort and the joy this has brought me and my daughter is incredible. Don’t get me wrong we both work and she goes to school. This just makes us happy.
I am in my 40 s. My mom gave me a teddy bear when I was 16. It is my comfort in time of worry n stress. I hug that teddy bear alot. I find comfort in times I need a hug or I am afraid. There is no set age to have a teddy bear to hold when I need comfort.
So I have a stuffed dog called “Buddy”.
I talk to him but my sister says I shouldn’t
Talk for him Should I???
Thank you! I’ve become so attached to my dog’s toy dog, “Buddy!” My Schnoodle of 14 years passed almost six months ago. I was completely bereft until I discovered his own toy dog who I call Buddy. (I often called my actual dog (Scupper) Buddy too. He’s my constant companion. I talk to him much as I talked to my dog. He vacations with me. He’s my lifesaver ❤️ He’s adorable only wish I could post his picture. Just looking at his face makes me smile.
I am going to be thirty in two years (I think I did the math right) and I have an autism spectrum disorder. I am an adult. But whenever I pass a claw machine with stuffed animals, or a shelf with stuffed animals, I just have to have one to hug and cuddle. They make me feel safe and secure and can have someone to hug and be happy and feel better because I can’t have pets. But also, who could pass up hugging a big fluffy smiling teddy bear?
Thank you. This article helped me alot. I am in my 40s and found it odd that I find comfort in sleeping with a stuffed rabbit. I also have anxiety and depression so this really made me feel better to know its normal and there is science behind what I thought was wrongful immaturity.
What a sincere, lovely and informative article. I’ve been with my stuffed friend (teddy bear) for a little over 9 years now, and he’s my best friend. There have been times when I’ve felt lonely and filled with a lot of anxiety, but having him next to me has always helped to relieve some of that loneliness and anxiety. He’s a true and loyal friend, and I’m glad that we’re best friends.