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While there’s lots of research on ADHD, one type of treatment that’s less well-documented is the number of individuals with ADHD that use weighted stuffed animals to help alleviate and cope with symptoms.
Weighted stuffed animals generally look like the popular children’s toy, but tip the scales at somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds. They may have longer arms for hugging or include features to aid with fidgeting. They’re available in a wide range of styles and sizes.
Doctors and therapists specializing in grief and loss have been using weighted teddy bears for years to help their clients.
While more research into this area is needed, there has been a little research done into weighted blankets, which offer a similar type of support. One small study on weighted blankets found that 63 percent of participants reported lower anxiety after using it and 78 percent found it to have a calming effect.
The general theory behind weighted blankets and stuffed animals is that added weight can offer deep pressure touch, which is thought to calm the nervous system and trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin. Using a weighted blanket or stuffed animal may also improve sleep, which can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and ADHD.
Adults might be hesitant to appear in public with a large stuffed animal, but their cute appearances make these nonthreatening for young children. They also typically come in a variety of shapes and colors that appeal to children’s unique interests.
When it came to choosing which products to include, we looked at a variety of factors like:
- Size. Some individuals love a larger animal they can really wrap their arms around while others prefer something a little smaller and more discrete, so we tried to include a variety of size options.
- Material. Because this stuffed animal is going to get plenty of use, those that can be easily washed and dried stood out.
- Price. We know that finances can vary, so we tried to include a range of options for diverse budgets.
- Customer reviews. There’s nothing like an actual user to let you know how a product feels and holds up after continual use. We highly valued this information, and know it matters to you.
Here are some of the best weighted stuffed animals you can buy online.
Best weighted neck wrap
Craving a neck hug? The curve of this stuffed animal wrap allows it to lay smoothly across the neck. (It can also double as a travel pillow!)
It’s filled with all-natural grain and dried French lavender to provide a soothing scent. Fully microwavable, it can be used for hot and cold therapy. As an added bonus, this therapeutic wrap is available in a variety of animal shapes and meets U.S. safety standards for all ages.
Best warming lap pad
This lap pad designed to look like a panda bear stretches 17 x 22 inches. It has a 4-pound removable glass bead-filled inner pad that can be removed and heated in the microwave to create a warm, soothing pad.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is recommended to hand wash the exterior, and with white fabric it can quickly become dirty.
Best lightweight Teddy Bear
This 10-inch stuffed animal weighs in at less than 1 pound making it perfect for young children. It’s also ideal for travel.
Each animal is filled with natural clay beads and dried lavender to offer a relaxing smell. It can be fully heated in the microwave, and the removable therapy pack can be used as heating pad or frozen for cold therapy.
As an added bonus, the company offers free returns within 30 days.
Best for multiple senses and aromatherapy
This teddy bear offers a lavender scent — lavender has been associated with relaxation. This plushie weighs just under 2 pounds and is filled with grain and dried lavender.
The entire toy is microwavable for those who prefer a warmer touch. It can also be placed in the freezer for using with bumps or bruises.
Meeting the U.S. safety standards for all ages, the company makes a variety of different animals, so you can choose one that fits your personality.
Best weighted lap pad
- Price: $$$
- Weight: 3.6 pounds
This lap pad comes designed as either a puppy or a lamb. Made of 100 percent polyester fabric, the pad is filled with hypoallergenic, odorless, food-grade, polypropylene (plastic) pellets.
The pad’s soft, plush fabric can be stroked for grounding and is soft enough to sleep with. While not so large to make travel impossible, this is a larger weighted animal.
Stretching 29 x 8 inches, both the outer cover and inner weighted insert are washable. It weighs in at 3.6 pounds.
Weighted stuffed animals not for you? Like your stuffed animal, but want to try other things, too?
- Sniff some lavender. Whether you rub on some lavender scented lotion, take a lavender scented bath, or use a diffuser with essential oil, the smell of lavender can
help to lower your blood pressure.
- Take time to meditate or journal. Even young children can benefit from mindfulness and breathing exercises.
- Talk to friends. There’s nothing like a good heart-to-heart. You may even want to join a class or group related to one of your interests to connect with some new people.
- Talk with professional counselors. Sometimes we need the ear and advice of a person trained with approaches and ideas to help us sort through and manage our needs. Whether it’s a specific concern, short-term goal, or you don’t know where you’d start or what to talk about, there are different ways to access a therapist to talk to.
Even talking with your general physician or family doctor, who you’d see for physical concerns, can be a great thing. They may suggest support groups, talk therapy, or medication.
Stuffed animals aren’t just for small children. They can be useful for calming nerves, grounding, and meeting your hug needs, especially in times when you may be more isolated, and whether or not you experience ADHD.
Finding the perfect weighted stuffed animal can take a bit, but there are plenty of options to choose from. If you’re struggling with a place to start, you might consider taking a closer look at a few of the ones on our list!
Catherine Crider, CD/PCD(DONA), CLEC, CBE, JD, MEd, has worked with children for the past decade as a trained elementary and special education teacher, and finds special joy in supporting blossoming families and their infants. She enjoys educating new parents and parents-to-be about their different options as well as the current best practices in baby care. Catherine writes for various websites and teaches full-spectrum childbirth and postpartum education in several locations in California’s North Bay Area and Peninsula.