What To Look For In a Weighted Stuffed Animal

There’s a lot of talk on parent’s groups online and among experts about the benefits of weighted stuffed animals.

If you have a child with a sensory processing disorder, autism, or ADHD, having a weighted stuffed animal tucked in with them in bed at night can help them sleep better.

These special stuffed animals are great for applying deep pressure stimulation. They provide comfort.

And they’re not only for children! Studies show that adults who deal with anxiety also find them comforting and relaxing.

But there’s so many of them out there. If you’re thinking of getting one for yourself, what’s the best way to choose?

Why get a weighted stuffed animal

There are similarities between a weighted stuffed animal and a favorite family pet, a least as far as there being some weight and warmth to them.

The difference between a weighted stuffed animal and a real animal is, of course, that you don’t have to feed or clean up after a stuffed animal, nor do you have to take it to the vet when it gets sick. The stuffed animal is available in unicorn, dinosaur, and sloth forms, too.

You also don’t have to feed a weighted stuffed animal, nor do you have to take it to the vet. Nor do you have to win the pet shopping lottery and be lucky enough to run across a dog like that ready to adopt.

Some weighted stuffed animals can be put in a microwave and made to be warmer.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to do that with your pet!

Weighted decorative lap blankets also help diminish anxiety in some.

However, there aren’t any large, well-run studies on the effectiveness of weighted stuffed animals in countering anxiety. Direct evidence is mostly anecdotal.

However, there are many studies on a similar product that work by similar principals: weighted blankets. Both weighted blankets and weighted stuffed animals work on the same principal. Study participants who used weighted blankets showed improved sleep with improvements in staying asleep, and diminished fatigue, depression, and anxiety. They were 26 times as likely to have a decrease of 50 percent or more in the severity of their insomnia as compared with the control group. Furthermore, participants kept the improvements during the 12 months following the study.

A 2020 review of a number of studies on weighted blankets suggests that while they might not be effective in countering all forms of insomnia, they are helpful in reducing anxiety.

How do weighted stuffed animals promote relaxation?

Weighted stuffed animals work through deep pressure stimulation (DPS).
DPS or DTPS (deep touch pressure stimulation) allows the body to switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic.
The sympathetic nervous system is the system that kicks in when the body believes itself to be in danger. After its activated for awhile, a person feels tired and irritable. The body releases cortisol and this leads to all kinds of bad side effects.
The parasympathetic nervous system winds the body down from this state. It allows you to calm down.
Through DPS, the parasympathetic nervous system does its thing letting the person wind down and relax.

What’s the best weighted stuffed animal to get?

It’s simple: get one that the recipient will find delightful. There’s not one form that’s best. If he or she likes sloths, get a sloth. If they like puppies, get a puppy. And so on. Make it cuddly and of the weight that’s makes them capable of providing the deep pressure that makes them effective.

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James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life.

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