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If you're looking for that perfect gift that will bring a child love and comfort, a stuffed animal is a great choice. It's a classic gift that kids of all ages will love and cherish for years to come.
We researched the best stuffed animals on the market, considering the size, quality, and recommended age of each. The ultimate top choice will vary depending on your recipient, but we love the TOMY Pokemon XY Pikachu Plush because of the franchise's longtime popularity, plus the super soft quality and easy portability for taking on the go.
Here are the stuffed animals that will quickly become new favorites.
TOMY Pokémon XY Pikachu Plush
Stuffed video game characters are perfect for little gamers who want to cuddle their favorite characters offscreen. Inspired by Pokémon X and Pokémon Y (don’t worry, your kids will know what that means), it’s a great size for carrying around on the go at just 8 inches tall.
Whether your child is just getting into the franchise or a happens to be a teen looking for a Pokemon piece for their bedroom, this plush works for various ages and will grow with your child.
Customers say it’s cute, and the quality is good. There are no hard plastic pieces that could hurt a child, which is another plus. The quality and price also make it an excellent collector's item. Game on!
Melissa & Doug Giant Unicorn Stuffed Animal
Surface washable fabric
Not meant for riding
There isn’t a creature more magical than the mythical one-horned unicorn. This giant stuffed one by Melissa & Doug takes that magic to a whole new lovely level. Adorned with a shimmery horn, hooves, and other details, it measures nearly 3 feet tall and can sturdily stand on all four legs. While it’s not made for riding, it’s sure to spur lots of make-believe fun. It’s great for anyone who could use a little magic in their lives. Customers say kids go crazy for it and that it’s super soft and sturdy.
Pottery Barn Kids Labradoodle Plush
Comes in three sizes
Not all sizes are always available
Nothing is sweeter than kids with puppies. These stuffed Labradoodles from Pottery Barn Kids are simply squee-worthy.
Made from faux fur, they’re soft and snuggly. They come in three sizes: small (12 inches high), medium (18 inches high) and jumbo (30.5 inches high). You can get one or a whole litter. The small is okay for all ages, while the medium and jumbo are recommended for ages 2 and up and 3 and up, respectively. Whether they have a real pup of their own or not, one of these is sure to be a constant companion.
Wild Republic Cuddlekin Three Toed Sloth Plush
Fur looks a big ragged
What could be more calm and comforting than a stuffed sloth? This three-toed sloth from Wild Republic is a great companion for lounging and hanging around.
Made of soft fabric with realistic details and arms long enough to give your kid a hug, it’s a sweet, unique friend they can add to their collection. Kids and adults alike love this quirky stuffed animal.
Jellycat Bashful Grey and White Kitty Stuffed Animal
Pellets in feet give the toy a good weight
Can sit up if propped
Some found the toy smaller than expected
For a furry feline friend, this bashful grey kitty from Jellycat is hard to beat. Incredibly soft with tons of personality, we’d say it’s the cat’s meow.
It’s suitable for babies from birth and up and is seven inches tall. One of these (or a whole litter) makes the purr-fect gift for cat lovers both young and old.
ebba Lil Benny Phant
Comes in two color
Some found the toy smaller than expected
They say elephants never forget. We’re pretty sure little ones won’t forget to bring this cute little elephant from Aurora World along with them wherever they go.
Complete with heart-stealing droopy eyes, and is simple, sweet, and soft and also comes in pink. This plush pachyderm is affordable too, and it's perfect for a gift or any special occasion.
Jellycat Cordy Roy Fox Stuffed Anima
Easy to clean
Some reported the neck loses stuffing after a while
What did the fox say? We may never really know, but kids can come up with plenty of guesses as they play with this adorable Cordy Roy fox from Jellycat. Quirky and fun, this fox is sure to become a favorite companion. Rather than the fluffy fur that you see on most stuffed animals, the fabric has a corduroy texture, making it a little easier to clean.
Parents say it’s well made, and some even say that their kids love it so much that they order a backup in case their kids' foxy friend gets lost.
Melissa & Doug Giant Giraffe
Suitable for various ages
Difficult to clean
At over 4 feet tall, this giraffe from Melissa & Doug is sure to be king of the jungle, or at least the playroom. If your child's room has a jungle theme, it's sure to blend right in.
Designed for kids 3 years and up, it has big potential for playtime fun. It's also one of the most fun ways to measure a growing child's height.
Jellycat Bashful Piggy Stuffed Animal
Can be difficult to wash
This soft and cuddly stuffed pig is so cute, you’ll squeal! This stuffed pig measures 12" high and is covered in velvety pink fur. Your little one will love to cuddle up to this sweet barnyard animal during bedtime and story time. If it gets dirty, it can be hand-washed and left out to dry.
Reviewers gave this stuffed animal glowing reviews, and they made note of the accompanying board books that can be purchased with the pig.
Wild Republic Giant Squid Plush Toy
Some wished the plush was bigger
Do you have a little one who dreams of being under the sea? Wild Republic has the coolest toy—this amazingly quirky and fun giant stuffed squid.
Super soft, the squid has lifelike features, including eight arms, two tentacles, and bulging eyes. It even has a great beak to complete the realistic feel. It’s a great way to add a pop of personality to a nursery or other ocean-themed bedroom. It lets kids explore the depths of their imaginations during playtime.
What to Look for in Stuffed Animals
Stuffed animals come in all different sizes, from ones that fit in your hand to ones that take up a whole room. When choosing a stuffed animal, the size is important. Too small and you can't cuddle with it; too big and it won't fit in bed comfortably. That's why it's necessary that you look at those dimensions so you know exactly what size the stuffed animal is.
Stuffed animals can go through a lot. They're tossed around, chewed on, and stomped all over, so they need to be made well so they last. Look for sturdy stitches, especially those that connect ears and legs to the body. The noses and eyes should be sewn on well for safety. Quality stuffed animals are filled with cotton, wool, or polyester.
"The high-end collectible bears are made of mohair, made from the hair of Angora goats," says toy designer and founder of Winey Bears Repair Sally Winey. "That's going to give you your strongest, durable stuffed animal, also the highest in monetary value." These last for up to 100 years, according to Winey, who still repairs them at her shop. These are great as collectibles, or heirlooms to pass down to your family, she recommends.
Stuffed animals can be the classic characters you know or unique ones that you could never think up. You may know right away what type of stuffed animal you want to get. That makes the search much easier because you can narrow it down immediately. If you're not sure which one would be best, take a minute to think of the person who will be receiving it. Think about their favorite animals, colors, and activities. That will give you a pretty good clue for what they might like.
Different types of stuffed animals will also have different feels. "Some people like them very squishy. Some people like them very firm. Some like them very soft," says Winey. Each will have a different feel for hugging and cuddling so you have to find the one that brings the most joy and comfort.
All stuffed animals will come with a recommended age. Keep within that age range to keep everyone safe and happy.
For infants, Winey recommends buying two of every stuffed animals. This way, if the family dog gets to it or if it get dirty or ripped in any way, there is a backup for a toy they have loved for so long.
How should you store stuffed animals?
Stuffed animals can take up a lot of room and really call for a special storage solution. There are a variety of ways to store stuffed animals, including using baskets, hammocks, cubbies, shelves, and a whole lot more. These storage tools will keep them out of the way but also ready to play with at a moment's notice.
Winey advises against storing in plastic bags or in hot places like an attic or anywhere with direct sunlight. "In direct sunlight, they'll fade and dry out," she shares.
How do you clean stuffed animals?
Kids can be messy, and if they have a stuffed animal as a companion, it's going to get messy, too. There are a few different ways to clean stuffed animals depending on whether they're machine-washable or not. If there's a care tag on the toy, follow the directions for the best results. Some stuffed animals can be machine-washed, while others will need to be spot-cleaned, dried, and treated for odors.
"Different materials clean differently," according to Winey. Not all stuffed animals are meant to be washed in a machine and even fewer are meant to go in the dryer. "Just like clothing, they could shrink or bleed," she warns.
"If you just want to dust them off, put them in a pillowcase on a no-heat setting in the dryer," she recommends. Otherwise, they could risk melting. For specific advice, contact someone like Winey who does stuffed animal repair for a living.
Where can you donate stuffed animals?
There are many children out there who would love to have the comfort of a special friend. Many organizations accept new and even gently used stuffed animals. Start by contacting your local hospital, children's shelter, and police and fire departments to see if they're in need of donated stuffed animals. You can also contact charities, daycare centers, and churches. All of these places can hopefully help connect your donation with a child in need.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Julie Evans, a writer who has been researching home products for The Spruce since 2017. She has extensive experience covering products for children, including toys and gifts. Additional research for this article comes from Stacy Fisher, a long-time writer who specializes in crafting, DIYs, and other home topics.
Expert advice was provided by toy designer and founder of Winey Bears Repair Sally Winey.