Weighted items can be comforting for individuals on the autism spectrum, with anxiety, or just for general comfort while watching TV or sleeping. Like the popular weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals are the newest weighted item to catch on in America. But it’s not just for kids. The market for weighted stuffed animals for adults is hot right now.
Weighted stuffed animals are plush toys that weigh two to five pounds.
Weighted items, like stuffed animals, can be comforting for children and adults on the autism spectrum, with anxiety, sleep problems, or who like the feeling.
There is some science behind weighted items for relaxation and comfort.
Feelings of relaxation and comfort from a weighted stuffed animal are the most important proof that it works.
What are weighted stuffed animals?
Weighted stuffed animals are cute plush toys that weigh more than traditional stuffed toys.
Weighing around two to five pounds, these items are popular for kids and adults with anxiety, sleep problems, or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Some animals come with a weight adjustable up to 10 pounds, or patterns and instructions are available to make one from scratch. Some available products can be warmed in the microwave or cooled in the freezer. This makes them helpful for injuries as well as comfort.
Weighted stuffed animals are not recommended for babies, especially
Don’t use weighted blankets, sleepers, swaddles, or other weighted objects on or near your baby. Babies should sleep in a crib empty of all soft objects and loose bedding.The American Academy of Pediatricians
Weighted stuffed animals are safe for children, in general. For kids, the weight needs to be easy to carry by hand or in a bag or backpack. Adults can choose the most comfortable weight for themselves.
Occupational therapists use weighted blankets and other techniques as a form of deep pressure in therapy with children with autism. Deep pressure is the feeling one gets when hugged or held.
The idea around weighted stuffed animals is that their benefits may be comparable to weighted blankets for kids. They are easier to use in places other than bedrooms or couches and more portable than heavy blankets.
The portability is a great feature if a child or adult finds comfort in holding or sleeping with a weighted stuffed animal. Their weighted stuffed animal can be transported for reliable comfort wherever they go.
Are there scientifically proven benefits for weighted stuffed animals? The answer is: maybe.
Research on weighted stuffed animals
While no research is associated explicitly with weighted stuffed animals, many studies are based on deep pressure and touch. These studies are designed for clinical settings, such as occupational therapy or a medical setting. However, the results may indicate the why.
Why are weighted stuffed animals popular?
An Occupational Therapy International published study showed the immediate benefits of deep pressure for young people with autism. In addition, a systematic review in the American Journal of Occupational Medicine determined that weighted blankets “may be an appropriate tool in reducing anxiety.”
These results are for therapeutic use in occupational therapy sessions but may help explain why it may feel good to hold a weighted stuffed animal or be wrapped in a weighted blanket.
An article about the calming effect of touch was published in November 2020 in Frontiers in Psychiatry. The authors reviewed the evidence of the impact of being touched by humans, animals, and robotic devices.
The conclusion? The effect of touch is calming and stress-relieving and may “act as a social signal for safety and support mental and physical health.”
Is it possible that a weighted item does the same thing? More research is needed to give scientific proof of the benefits of weighted stuffed animals.
A weighted item that gives the effect of calmness and lowers the feeling of stress or anxiety for the person using it is the goal.
Weighted stuffed animals for adults
Weighted stuffed animals for adults is an increasingly popular internet search. Adults can shop for the most comfortable weighted stuffed animal based on personal preferences. The effects of a weighted stuffed animal for adults are the same as for children.
Deep touch may relieve anxiety, and touch is calming and relieves stress.
If a weighted stuffed animal helps relieve anxiety or helps with sleep or comfort, it is likely well worth the price.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. How to Keep Your Sleeping Baby Safe: AAP Policy Explained.
- Occupational Therapy International. The Immediate Effects of Deep Pressure on Young People with Autism and Severe Intellectual Difficulties: Demonstrating Individual Differences.
- American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Weighted Blanket Use: A Systematic Review.
- Frontiers in Psychiatry. Calming Effects of Touch in Human, Animal, and Robotic Interaction — Scientific State-of-the-Art and Technical Advances.