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.
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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.
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6. Stuffed Animals Remind us of Childhood
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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!
Hey 35 here and Im happy to see this page. I have a white stuffed cat named Valerie who reincarnates when she’s worn down. She has been my bff for 22 years now and she is literally by my side 24/7 my bosses understand my need to have her near as she is my emotional support throughout the day. She is my cute soft little loveable ball of fluff
When I was a toddler my mother gifted me with a stuffed doll. Over the years I have given her the name “mommy.” My dolly has comforted me throughout my parents divorce, scary nights from my father who struggled with alcohol & came home to create conflict, many heart breaks, and normal transitions that we all go through. I’m 31 years old, married, and I still sleep with my dolly from time to time; especially when my husband is away and I’m home alone. I love my doll and hope to continue keeping her in good condition forever & ever <3
I made my own stuffed animal – much more personal than a purchased animal – brought great comfort to me since my Mom went to Heaven. Didn’t know the healing power that I’d get from this “creation” of mine. I’m over 60 and alone – but not alone anymore. I can tell her anything and everything. “She” understands. We talk to Jesus together.
I’m an Adult Baby toddler girl and LOVE my Bonnie, a 3-foot chestnut-brown teddy bear! She is my forever life companion, forsaking all others…she and I play a lot, cuddle a lot, always sleep together…she has taken a lot of tears from me, been there to soothe my hardest days. I’ll never, ever, ever let her go…I’m forever a baby girl with her forever love, Bonnie, the best friend a big little girl could ever have in this whole wide world! #BonnieNBobbi4Ever
I found this soft dog-like stuffed toy in a charity shop, and was gifted him as i loved the little thing. I didn’t have toys much as a child. At 71, i was embarrassed at how much i connected to this funny toy, carrying him around as if he were a baby. Then I realised how sad i’ve been, and projecting love on to something was making me feel more secure. Thought perhaps I’m going crazy! Glad for the comments.
Hi! I am a 74 year old woman (my name is often thought to be a man’s name). A little over six months ago, my husband and I lost our eleven year old golden retriever, Jeanie Jeanie was a big part of mine and my husband’s life. We were lonely and heart broken. Shortly after she crossed over the rainbow bridge I received a small parcel in the mail. My lovely and very thoughtful daughter sent me a small golden retriever puppy stuffy. We call her Baby Jeanie. This sweet little gift has given us much comfort as we grieved the loss of our pet. Yes, I talk to her, I snuggle her and she spends the day with us usually lounging on the sofa. Each night she comes to our bedroom as Jeanie did each night. She has helped us immensely. Thank you so much for this article and all the comments therein. It reaffirms our love for this little stuffy, our Baby Jeanie.
I love stuffed toys. I have a toy dog called Tobitt n i used to play with this toy dog with my mom several years ago . We pretend to talk to each other n to this stuffed dog Tobitt. My mom passed away in 2007 of breast cancer. I miss her dearly n everytime i hold Tobitt i remember mom n the games we played. I will always keep Tobitt because he is the reminder of mom n our happy days together in the sun🌞
I have had my stuffed bunny (funny bunny) since I found her when i was 6 years old on the floor at the end of a jumble sale – her head with detached from her body and was going to be binned. I took her home and my dear Nan fixed her up and made clothes for her. She even put her in a knitted hat she made me to protect her fur. I’ve always been a huge fan of rabbits but unfortunately allergic to them 😔
Funny bunny comforted me through my parents divorce, my nans death, my friends suicide etc. She has always been there through good times like my passing up parade in military, graduation, wedding and my two daughters births. She travels everywhere with me (even when I was in the navy), on holidays and is sat near my desk when I’m working from home. I’m not embarrassed about having bunny either. She is my best friend and brings so much comfort! She helps me sleep and I talk to her sometimes.
Love to you all
I’m 38 and I bought my mom a stuffed panda when she was sick with cancer. She died 6 months later. After going through her things I found it and named it 4 (pronounced foe). Named after Po from teletubbies and Pho, the Vietnamese dish. I sleep with it when I miss my mom the most. Which is a lot. It’s been 2 years since she’s transitioned. ❤️🩹
I couldn’t do without Benny (Benjamin Bilingsley) . When trying new meds I have to have him for anxiety. I’m Seventy-one years old and bought him 15 years ago. I talk to him, kiss and hug him. He’s the best bear in the world!
My stuffed animal is a cat her name is mew mew shes my security blanket and she keeps me calm i have depression she helps with it i always hug her when i get upset when i go to drs she is always right there iam 68 years old a would not go anywhere with out my mew mew
I have a toy named wiwi, given to me as a gift from my papa. Wiwi is like my bestfriend growing up. Wiwi is with me since I was seven. Wiwi is now 38years his there in my home country. When I started working abroad I have with me now Hamza the 🐻. He is sort of my bestfriend here as I don’t have my family with me. When I return home from work I’m happy to see him and he gives me sense of security, love and ease my loneliness.
Having done a “search” on Teddy Bears I have truly enjoyed reading the many entries from those people who have a cuddly toy to cuddle up to every night. It has been a pleasure reading everyone of them. Thank you.
this is really good post here. Thanks for taking the time to post such valuable information.
I lost my partner of 30 years to death by suicide.
When I am in a very dark place, and I find myself just crying, I sit down and feel the pain and I hold onto a teddy bear that I bought when I first met my beautiful partner 30 years ago. Maybe that is a stupid thing to do, but in my mind, my heart – I feel the strength and support of that little toy bear to help get me through until I am in a better place.
Deep down in my soul, I feel that little grey bear brings me more solace than most people as he remains wisely silent and listens as I tell him my deepest hurts and fears.
He doesn’t offer up suggestions to mend me, he doesn’t bombard me with a plethora of questions to which I have no answers and he doesn’t offer up his so-called “Wise Insights” as to why this has happened NOR does he make inane comments that suggest that my partner was selfish or stupid. He doesn’t tell me it was God’s way or that it will get better. No, he just lets me talk and cry the tears that are a healing balm (he doesn’t offer up a tissue to stem my tears). And he reminds me, in that moment of silent connection, that no matter the dark clouds that are visiting me or the pain in my heart, he will be there with me when I awaken the following day.
I am a volunteer knitter. So… I did a search 👀 about stuffed animals 🧸. Should I make them? And….What they mean to people. I’m afraid I never had one and needed to do some researching.
Thanks for sharing for now I know what to make kids for Christmas gifts. It will be knitted but I don’t think it will matter.
Much happiness and be safe
Thank you for this post. For someone who has extreme difficulty to be vulnerable/cry, it brings me comfort understanding it is okay to hold onto my teddy bear. Iceland, New Zealand, Singapore, UK, Belgium, Malaysia -my bear has been there everywhere I go. Transitioning through my 23-25 years of age has not been the easiest. I’m forever grateful to have my bear whom I feel safe crying to.
I am 57 and suffer from PTSD OCD Depression Anxiety Hyper Awareness low self esteem.
Teddy Sweet Bear was found in a Charity shop. She was forlorn and broken mentally.
When I picked her up she could not look me in the eye for the shame she carried.
I brought her home bathed her dressed her and gave her a name knowing it would define her character.
I feature her on Face Book and she is loved by others.
Recently I asked myself “could I love Teddy Sweet Bear and have her with me with out FaceBook?”
I answered “yes” but why was my next question to myself?”
BEARcause she’s a part of me!
I’m a 40 year old female sleeping with “Spot…Spotr” a white beagle from Ikea for 15-20 years now. For some reason I can’t sleep without him, Even after being cuddly with my man I still prefer having Spot by my side to . It makes me lonely every time I feel him losing his loafness. I sooo love my Spotr🐶
I am glad to come to this site. I have a stuffed animal named Mr Bear for 21 years. He has been my good buddy as he follows me through different life stages and changes. I recently brought him to Penang Malaysia for my trip and realised he had accompanied me to Penang with my parents 20 years ago.
I love you all. Hugs, love and light ❤️🧸
I used to sleep with lots of stuffed horses growing up, but hadn’t in years. Recently I have suffered from an incredibly difficult and severe bout of OCD and anxiety, and bought a stuffed unicorn at Target just because I thought it was so cute. That stuffed unicorn has honestly brought me so much unexpected comfort in this tough time, and I definitely believe there is therapeutic power in having plush friends. 🥰
I am 55 going on 56 and cuddle my Tiger every night ! I talk to “him” and kiss to feel I not alone
I went through a horrible menopause post surgery with so much anxiety and thinking I was dying in the night, I wanted something to cuddle
When I get anxiety (living alone) I like to know I have something to cuddle and then do breathing and know that all is well … keep it in the now 🙏🏼🥰
I’m 19 and I have PTSD (I survived three devastating earthquakes and also lived in a very unstable family). I suffer from anxiety as well – that began just as I started uni, I study Biotechnology and it’s been very stressful. My stuffed catfish Kimi helps a lot. I even carry her with me on uni as she is relatively small and I immediately feel better.