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When Can Babies Sleep With Stuffed Animals?


 What age can babies sleep with stuffed animals? Discover the benefits and safety tips to introducing them to your baby's bedtime routine.

The life of a caretaker, especially during those precious early years, is filled with choices. Of these, one seemingly small decision stands out as having a surprisingly big impact: deciding when your little bundle of joy can sleep with stuffed animals or a lovey.

Interestingly, the answer to the question “When can babies sleep with stuffed animals?” may not be as straightforward as you think. 

While experts recommend not allowing your baby to sleep with anything during the first year of their life, there are other factors to consider before introducing a few plush companions to the crib after their first birthday.

Cuddle Toys in the Crib: The Underlying Issue

Stuffed animals often hold a special place in the heart of a child's sleep routine, serving as cuddly companions that offer comfort and security for your little one. Still, as caretakers, the decision on when and how we introduce these soft friends into bedtime rituals involves much more than personal preference—it’s a matter of keeping our babies safe and secure.

SIDS Guidelines for Safe Sleep

In the first year of life, it’s important for caretakers to create a sleeping environment that’s as safe as it is serene. The reason? Sadly, some 3,400 infants under 1 year old suffer from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) every year, most often at night from accidental suffocation.

How to Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

The idea of SIDS is scary, but by taking the time to educate ourselves, we can ensure we do everything possible to prevent it.

According to the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, safe sleep practices include:

  • Placing your baby on their back for naps and at night, not on their stomach or side
  • Keeping the sleeping area free of loose bedding, pillows, blankets, or stuffed animals
  • Ensuring the crib offers a firm and flat surface
  • Using pacifiers during both naptime and bedtime

It’s important to note that 27% of SIDS cases are a result of accidental suffocation while babies sleep—meaning they’re preventable. By following these sleep safety best practices, you can help protect your baby and give yourself peace of mind.


When Can Stuffed Animals Be Introduced?

In light of the risks mentioned, an important question arises: when can babies sleep with a stuffed animal safely

In general, your baby’s first birthday marks the moment that you’re able to safely introduce a stuffed animal into their nightly routine. However, there are other factors to consider before letting your baby sleep with a lovey, stuffed animal, or any other type of transition object.

Factors Influencing the Right Time

Before you introduce your 1-year-old to a stuffed animal, it’s good to keep in mind that every baby scripts their own story, and the best time to introduce a stuffed companion or comfort object may be different from child to child. 

Consider these expert-recommended sleep safety tips to determine when is the best time to introduce stuffed animals to your baby: 

Observe Motor Skills Development

One key developmental milestone is a baby’s mobility. This includes motor skills such as:

  • Rolling over
  • Sitting up
  • Moving other objects

If you notice your baby has developed these skills, it’s a positive sign that introducing soft objects to the baby’s crib is ok since they’ll be able to prevent anything from covering their mouth and nose.

Consider Emotional Attachment Signals

Many babies start forming attachments to objects like blankets or stuffed animals between 8 and 12 months of age. By observing these attachments (or lack thereof, which is also normal), you can gain insight into the appropriate time to introduce a new bedtime buddy or transitional object

Gradually Introduce to Ensure Comfort

Although the threshold of one year is advised before a stuffed animal joins a baby’s sleep space, laying the groundwork earlier can ease this transition. Introducing the stuffed animal into your baby's daytime environment allows it to become a familiar, comforting presence, smoothing its eventual inclusion in the crib. In this phase, do not leave the lovey in your child’s bed or crib, as it may pose a danger while your child is sleeping. 

Monitor Sleep Patterns and Consistency

After welcoming a stuffed companion or comfort object into your baby's night-time world, try observing their response. Monitoring any shifts in sleep patterns or how your baby adapts to their new bedtime friend can help you make sure the transition enhances their slumber instead of disrupting it.

Selecting Safe Stuffed Animals

Can’t decide between a stuffed otter or stuffed unicorn? When choosing a stuffed animal or plush toy for your baby, there are a few safety and comfort considerations to keep in mind:

  • Size – Opt for a small, lightweight stuffed animal to minimize any safety risks
  • Material – While softness is a priority, ensure that your child’s future companion is made of durable, easy-to-clean, and hypoallergenic material
  • Design – In addition to being cute and endearing, the ideal stuffed animal will also be made without any small parts that could pose a choking hazard

Signs of Readiness

As you thoughtfully consider your baby’s personal growth journey, keep an eye out for key cues that may hint your child is ready for a stuffed animal companion: 

  • Smiling, laughing, or a gleam of recognition at the sight of familiar soft toys
  • Tiny hands reaching out to touch and snuggle with their potential new friend
  • A visible calm upon hugging or playing with plush toys, blankets, and fabrics

Some babies might not show much interest until they’re older, and that’s perfectly fine, too. Every baby’s story with their stuffed animal will unfold in its own time and way.

Self-Soothing Behaviors

Babies who can calm themselves or settle back to sleep on their own may also benefit from the added comfort of a stuffed animal. These self-soothing behaviors, including sucking on fingers or thumbs, rubbing a corner of a blanket, or rocking, indicate that a baby might find a stuffed animal soothing during sleepy time​. 

Safely Slumbering with Stuffed Friends

As cute as it sounds to surround your baby with stuffed animals while they sleep, it’s important to keep safety a top priority—in addition to waiting for the 12-month mark, observing key developmental milestones can give you further insight into whether your little one is ready to sleep with a stuffed animal.

And when that time comes, Slumberkins has the perfect answer.

Explore Slumberkins’ Safe Sleep Collection

Creating a haven of sleep for children that's as safe as it is soothing is our main goal. That's why we offer snuggly sleep companions designed to meet the highest safety standards while also providing warmth and comfort.

With Slumberkins, you can curate a world for your baby where dreams are sweet, sleep is sound, and every night is wrapped in the gentle embrace of safety and love. Shop our selection of Snugglers today to find the perfect plush toy for your little one.


Sources: 


National Institutes of Health. SIDS By the Numbers. https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/about/by-the-numbers


National Institutes of Health. SIDS – What Are the Known Risk Factors? https://safetosleep.nichd.nih.gov/about/risk-factors 


Babycenter. When can babies sleep with a stuffed animal? https://www.babycenter.com/baby/sleep/when-can-my-baby-sleep-with-a-stuffed-animal-or-doll_1368443.


St. Andrews College. Understanding Children's Attachment to Inanimate Objects: An Indian Perspective. https://standrewscollege.ac.in/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Understanding-childrens-attachmentARJ-2014-Vol-3.pdf

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