Weighted toys are exploding in demand amongst children around the world with the popularity graph trending upwards at a fast rate and showing no signs of slowing!
First it was weighted blankets which we have all heard about, but now another weighted item, that of the weighted toy, is quickly approaching the admiration levels of its weighted cousin.
Sensory weighted toys for children
Read on as we try to explain the worldwide trend of weighted and stuffed animals such as weighted elephants, sloths, bears, snakes, dogs and a host of other adorable stuffed, weighted toys for children.
More than just toys for kids
A weighted toy is just that – it is a toy that has been surgically operated on in the factory or supplier’s rooms to make it heavier. Each one having their internal organs, usually comprising of polyester stuffing, ripped out and replaced with glass and/ or polyester beads to add weight.
These toys are everything a child loves in a normal toy ………..
They are now more than just the soft, plush, cute, cuddly, lovable or furry companions that we have all adored growing up. They are now so much more than that, if that’s possible!
And the reason is……… wait for it…….wait……… weight!
Which customers are these toys made for?
The weighted products range includes not only toys but also lap blankets, throw blankets, cushions and shoulder soothers.
Whilst all are suitable for kids, teenagers and adults of all ages, they are especially beneficial for those individuals with sensory needs including people with autism, adhd and sensory processing disorder.
Along with this, weighted toys are also being used for kids with anxiety, insomnia and other sleeping issues.
Products with plenty of features
Weighted toys come with all the great features that kids will love about their favourite toys.
Soft plush, toys for kids
Weighted toys are available in soft, plush materials that are super-soft to feel and hug tight at night or in times of need. If you imagine the soft feel of your most loved toy, there is a good chance there is a weighted toy available in that same gorgeous soft stuff! The weight just adds to the sensory appeal of the toy and unleashes the many extra and powerful benefits.
Sizes to suit all needs
One great feature of weighted toys is their size. There are now many options available to suit all requirements.
If you need a companion for sleeping at night, then a 7kg weighted elephant might be the choice.
Its main feature is its HUGENESS!
It is a great big and relatively heavy thing that will entice your child to sleep independently as they now have another “person” in the bed with them to hug or nestle into.
Or if the requirement is for a companion at school – perhaps to rest on the lap in class; then there are options-a-plenty with weighted bear, elephants, sloths and other toys available in small sizes with less weight.
A young child might choose a 2kg bear for their school bag which fits easily inside with the schoolbooks, yet at night may wish for the 7kg bed-mate dog or bed-mate elephant for comfort.
There are sizes for all needs now!!!
Huge range to choose from
If you or your child has a particular favourite animal, then don’t stress. There is a large range of animals to choose from including weighted koala, bears, sloths, monkeys, elephants and dogs to name just a few. Unless your child chooses something very rare and exotic, there is now bound to be a weighted animal that they will love.
The choice list is now extensive!
What do weighted toys do?
Weighted toys bring their many benefits to users not only by the features mentioned above, but they provide extra assistance by the sheer fact that they are weighted.
It is because of this weight that the toy is able to give deep pressure therapy (DPT) to the user. This type of therapy has a number of benefits backed up by research.
DPT works similar to squeezes, strokings, hugs and presses in that it provides proprioceptive input to the body which can help many individuals, particularly those with sensory issues, to calm, relax and re-focus. It is the consistent and gentle pressure to the body that is important, and this is what a weighted animal or toy is able to do.
Weighted products for families at home
Depending on the environment and the child’s sensory needs, certain products are more suited to different places. The larger products such as the weighted bed-mate elephant or weighted bed-mate dog are both 7 kg and both are quite large and long. Whilst they are great at home for a comforter or getting your child off to sleep at night, it is not practical to take them to school or day-care.
If the aim at home is for distraction or calming in certain situations, then a smaller toy such as a weighted monkey with soft, sensory fur might be a good option. The softness of the fur in many of the items can provide tactile sensory input to the child.
Different sizes of plush animals for school
If your child is wishing to transport their toy in their backpack to school each day to bring out in times of need then they are best to opt for smaller sizes of weighted toys such as the weighted sloth or weighted cat as they fit neatly into a small space.
OT Warehouse supplies a 1.8kg weighted koala that is only 43cm long or a weighted dog at 1.2kg and only 40cm long that would be perfect for placing on your lap under a school desk.
These items can help individuals to calm and re-focus when they are becoming stressed and can relieve many from the ongoing anxiety associated with school classrooms.
Equipment for adults at the office
Many weighted items are ideally suited for adults and those at the office. Large, weighted snakes are fabulous at applying pressure to the neck and shoulder regions and are being increasingly used by adults at the office. School teachers are also utilising them for students to hang around their shoulders whilst working in the classroom or sitting and listening attentively on the mat.
Are weighted toys safe here in Australia?
Yes, weighted toys are safe!
But certain factors do need to be considered, so it is always best to consult an Occupational Therapist for advice on your situation. They are the best people to advise on what toy may suit your individual circumstances.
Safety for toddlers and babies?
It is not recommended that children under the age of three use weighted toys due to the danger of SIDS.
Children should never have anything in their bed or cot that is unable to be removed by the individual themselves or which may restrict breathing if placed over them.
Some (R) weighted toys have small parts such as the “eye” which could cause a safety hazard if they became dislodged or if babies or toddlers were to chew on them.
When dealing with weighted blankets it is advised by therapists not to go over 10% of a person’s body weight, however there is no specific weight limit or such guidance yet with weighted toys.
It is also a personal decision about what is best for your child depending on their sensory needs and other factors which may come into consideration such as body weight, physical strength and nature of any specific disabilities.
It is important to note that each individual’s sensory needs will be different.
A 1.8 kg weighted snake may be pleasurable for one child, however, may be the opposite for another who prefers a lighter weight due to their own physical size or different sensory preferences.
Considerations when buying a weighted toy?
There are a few important factors to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a weighted toy. As mentioned before, each child may have their own sensory requirements, however you may wish to also think about:
The purpose of the toy?
Consider why you are purchasing a weighted toy before choosing your size.
If the purpose of the toy is to assist your child to stay in bed at night or go off to sleep independently, then it may make sense to purchase a large “bed mate” weighted toy.
These are exactly as the name suggests….. a 7 kg “mate” who simulates a parent, buddy or companion to reduce anxiety and loneliness at bedtime.
They are available in many different animals including dogs, elephants, pandas and cats.
If you have no wish for something portable that can be transported to different places and will only stay in rooms within your house, then this may be a great option.
If the purpose for the toy is to be a companion to your child at school or something that they can keep with them discreetly at all times, then there are a range of options including weighted rabbit, sloths, bears, monkeys and dogs which are available in lighter weights around the 500 grams-2.5 kg. Many of these are only 20-40cm in length and are more easily pushed into a school bag or day-care pack.
What size is available?
After many hours of research, we were able to discover weighted toys ranging from 500 grams up to 7 kg. The lighter toys around 500 grams – 2 kg were typically in the 20-50 cm length range, therefore making them okay for slipping into most backpacks for overnight stays, car trips or school days.
The heaviest on the market were the 7 kg “bed mates which, at the time of research were available as an elephant, dog, panda, tiger and koala in this size bracket.
Washing your products at home
When washing your weighted items at home the advice is simple!
Just hand wash only!
Do not be tempted to take the lazy option and throw it into the washing machine.
You have been told!
Warranty and problems with stuffed toy.
On rare occasions some people have reviewed that the product has leaked some filling. This is usually a simple problem in the manufacturing process and the suppliers have offered exchanges or refunds.
Some parents have commented that they thought small bits would naturally drop out from time to time and so they have not complained.
This is not the case.
Your toy should not leak any filling whatsoever!
If it does, contact your supplier immediately for this to be rectified.
These days the importance of good reviews in the online world is paramount so if any suppliers are not responding to your concerns, then the threat of poor reviews usually sorts out the problem.
What are weighted toys made from?
Polyester toy filling is now the most common filling used in kid’s stuffed toys. With a weighted toy, some of this has been removed and replaced with weighted products.
What is inside the weighted animal?
Most of the manufacturers of weighted toys are using plastic poly pellets or glass beads as the internal filling to achieve the increased weight. The polyester stuffing is simply removed, and pockets of these fillings are sewn into the product. Good quality brands are ensuring their toys are fully lined.
Are the fillings safe?
Both the glass beads and poly pellets used in weighted products are safe.
Poly pellets are frequently used in kid’s toys and are a good, safe option as they are hypo-allergenic and non-toxic.
Glass bead are also another safe option.
Both fillings, according to product safety data sheets are non-hazardous and safe to handle.
Are they safe for babies or toddlers?
Once again, weighted toys are not recommended for children under 3 years of age. They should not be used if there is any risk that the person may not be able to lift the product off themselves, that it may become a breathing obstacle, or if there is risk that the toy might be chewed, and the filling ingested.
What ages can you have a weighted toy?
Is it ever too old to have a toy?
This is a personal preference thing!!
Many adults still have them and adore them.
It is the same for weighted toys!
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider as your child enters their “tee” years is how discreet they would like to be with their toy.
Toys for younger children
Younger children may prefer the smaller toys, particularly if they have to carry them around. There is a huge range of weighted plush cats, dogs, sloths, monkeys, bears and koalas that are small and easily transported under the arm, around the house and at day care.
Heavy choices for teens and adults
Adults and teens may like small, plush or long pile soft toys, however there are some on the market that are larger and heavier for those that want weight! Of course, there are the huge 7kg bed mates mentioned before, but there are also some mid-sized items weighing around the 3-5 kg.
Spoilt for choice with product range!
The range on the market is expanding fast to cope with the popularity.
At the moment, not only can you choose your favourite toy, but there is a good chance you may even get specific breed of animal as well!
Children love weighted dogs:
Not only can you now choose 3-4 kg weighted dogs, but you can also pick your favourite breed allowing many people to choose a collie, husky, bulldog, German Shepherd, blue heeler or even pug.
Weighted snakes for sensory needs:
Available in different colours and patterns, along with many made with sequins on the outside, allowing sensory lovers to change the colours of the snake whenever they like.
Weighted cats great for anxiety:
Whilst dog lovers may have the largest selection to choose from, people who like cats are not left out. There is now a selection of different household cat breeds, along with big cats such as tigers and leopards.
So now you can even duplicate your household pet and allow your child to take it to bed at night if your usual “live” assistance dog or cat will not obey and sleep on the bed.
Having a weighted toy on hand that looks like the family pet has been a huge help for many parents who usually use their animal to lay on the bed and help their child drift off to sleep.
Often, when the family pet does not want to stay on the bed for whatever reason, it is very handy to have a weighted toy nearby that can quickly replace the pet.
Costs when purchasing a weighted toy in Australia
When products are good and the benefits you can get for yourself and your family are realised, then one quickly forgets the cost. In saying that, weighted toys are a cheaper item than the blankets.
Prices for all budgets
The price range for weighted toys varies quite a lot but there are options to suit all budgets. Good quality, fully lined toys are a “must” and this is one item where you get what you pay for. Luckily though there are products available for all budgets as the range of animals on offer and the weights available are extensive.
How much will my toy cost?
Expect to pay around $60-70 for the lighter animals weighing approximately 1-2kg, $80-100 for 3-5 kg of weight and up to $150 for larger animals weighting 7 kg.
Freight for your order
When purchasing your toy consider the cost of freight. Because some are large and can weigh quite a lot, many people perceive the freight costs to be expensive.
When we scoured through many sites looking for weighted, stuffed animals we found that freight costs did vary. Some offered free shipping in the total cost of the toy, whereas others asked for costs per kilogram of weight. One supplier offered a deal of $15 per 5kg of weight, which we thought was reasonable.
NDIS plan holders get your weighted toys under NDIS funding!
If you are an (R) NDIS customer, you may be able to buy a weighted toy in Australia with your allocated funding from the NDIS. If you are considering placing an order for a toy, ensure the item aligns with your specific goals.
If you or your child have sensory or anxiety-based issues and your goals are related to these, then purchasing a weighted toy may be an appropriate tool for you to manage your condition and achieve your goals.
The simplest and quickest way to order a weighted toy or other weighted products such as weighted cushions, lap blankets and other sensory items under NDIS funding is to visit a reputable online store that is a registered NDIS service provider (this information will usually be on the “about us” section of their website along with their NDIS provider number).
Many of these websites will allow you to complete your order and then “get a quote”, rather than pay for the items yourself.
You then simply email the quote order through to your plan manager to pay on your behalf.
To do this click here.
The top 5 most popular weighted toys?
So, now you have all the information about weighted toys, which one do you choose?
What are the most popular ones?
For this answer, we delved into the monthly Google search numbers to look at the numbers of people looking for each weighted toys online.
We were looking for the highest number of searches from people each month looking for a specific product and these were the top 5…..
- Weighted Elephant – The largest land animal on the planet, who couldn’t love these. Available in soft plush materials and sizes ranging from 800 grams/ 30cm long – way up to the 7kg bed mate options.
- Weighted Bear – an all-time favourite, the teddy bear. This one is available in many different weights and sizes, with the larger 4kg, 60cm high, Jumbo Rainbow Bear being an absolute standout! An ideal bedtime assistance toy!
- Weighted snake – these things are so cool and loved by many. Used frequently by teachers in classroom for kids to hang around their shoulders whilst sitting on the floor. This helps them to relax, stay focussed and listen more attentively. They are also great reading buddies!
- Weighted Dog – available in a variety of different breeds so if you are wanting a toy dog, then you are spoilt for choice. Can be found in a huge variety of weights and lengths. You should have no problem finding one in the most common dog breeds.
- Weighted Sloth – wasn’t surprised by this one making the top 5 as they are super soft and cute, along with having arms that can reach adoringly around a child and hang on.
Only available in smaller weights around the 1kg, however for extra cuteness we did find a weighted mum and bub sloth, which is an adorable baby sloth clinging to its mother’s back.
If you are super keen on sloths, then also check out the “sloth wrist snappy bands” which allow you to carry a small pet sloth on your wrist.
A warning though- these are very popular and often sold out in various online stores so just keep on checking!
You may just get lucky!