October 23, 2023 | Sandra Pierce


A recent “feel good” episode on CBS Mornings reported on a three-year-old who had lost her favourite stuffie, RAFFI, and the reunion 11 days later. It brought back memories of my “fur hat”- a gift my grandmother had intended for my mother but the minute I got my hands on it I never let it go and for years "fur hat" was my constant companion.

Then along came “giraffe” that I carried under my arm wherever I went, till my mother realized it was the reason for a fast-spreading rash.

I moved on to a four-inch high Steiff stuffed bear that I, of course, christened, “little bear.” The plush of a Steiff bear has always been something special: it is exceptionally lifelike, soft, durable, and sheds almost no hair. He sadly disappeared and I’m certain it was the neighborhood bully who stole him on a playdate.

Parents are all too familiar with the importance of stuffed animals for children especially when it comes to bringing joy and comfort.

These days many of us adults are craving for comfort. After recalling all my stuffies I realized I still had one, Zazz. Bedlingtons just happen to be irresistibly cuddly.

If you aren’t fortunate to have a dog, be comforted knowing that stuffed animals aren't just for kids anymore. Adults are clamoring for squishy friends and weighted plushies. They can do for us what they do for children: beat back anxiety, hasten sleep, and make the world a little more tolerable.

If you sleep with a stuffie but are hesitant to divulge your secret, be comforted knowing you’re not an outlier.

Polls in the United States and Britain find that up to 40 percent of adults sleep holding them. Many also admit to talking to them. I have found talking to Zazz extremely satisfying and comforting.

To be able to fall asleep with greater ease we need to reduce “cognitive arousal,” the type of active thinking that dominates our waking hours. We need to enter a more relaxed mindset to drift off. I can attest that having something to cuddle with can accomplish this.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Marina Khidekel, a health journalist said she created Hugimals, a line of weighted stuffed animals designed to relieve stress and promote sleep, in part for herself. She found weighted blankets were too stifling and wanted a smaller weighted item. While her toy brand started targeting parents with anxious kids, she thought other adults, like herself, would also be interested.

A year after the brand launched, more than 50% of Hugimals' customers were adults, either buying the stuffed animals for themselves or gifting them to adult friends or family members and using them to alleviate anxiety and help with their sleep.

TIME Magazine wrote about Marcella Johnson who, after the loss of her fourth baby, found comfort in holding weighted items and realized other grieving mothers did the same as well. This experience led her to create the Comfort Cub, a weighted teddy bear designed for people coping with loss.

Her company’s tagline is something to remember if you are debating whether to indulge in some child-like comfort, “I’m not just a Teddy Bear. I am HOPE you can HOLD.”