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10 of the best soft toys

Cuddly leopards, bears, puppies, elephants – even a squidgy dragonfly: we've found the very best soft toys for babies and children to snuggle and cuddle

best soft toys

Every child needs a treasured soft toy or 2 – or 10! – and, whether it’s a traditional furry animal or a modern, interactive plush toy that talks and makes funny noises, all that matters is that it’s super-soft and perfect for cuddles.

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With the help of our child testers, we’ve tested and rated a whole over-stuffed heap of soft toys to bring you the best of the snuggly bunch…

Here’s our pick of the best soft toys for children, as tested by kids and rated by parents

1. Sacha Snow Tiger Soft Toy, £57

Age: From birth

What is it: A huge 46cm-high soft snow tiger made with 100% polyester plush. Hand-wash only.

Why we love it: If you’re going to go big, it’s still got to be soft – and this tiger is super-soft with a gorgeous tail and a lovely fluffy mane that all our slightly overwhelmed – and, in some cases, slightly dwarfed – child testers adored. Pricey but beautiful.

Available from: John Lewis and Selfridges

2. Designabear Puppy Soft Toy, £10

Age: From birth

What is it: A 38cm-high fluffy puppy that comes in a cute carry box. He has outfits you can buy separately. There are also 3 other Designabear animals to collect: a rainbow unicorn, a rainbow bear and a bunny.

Why we love it: It’s super quality for a great price. He’s very fluffy and cuddly and our child testers loved his bright eyes and floppy ears. The outfits you can buy separately are very cute – we’ve got our eyes on the spotty dinosaur onesie!

Available from: Argos

3. Squishmallows, £6.99

Age: 3+

What it is: An ever-expanding collection of 30cm-high soft plush animals, each with their own quirky character, downloadable birth certificate – and special name, such as Heather the Dragonfly (pictured above, left) and Tristan the Triceratops (above, right). Machine-washable. Also available in other sizes.

Why we love it: They are SO irresistibly soft and squeezable, as our mini testers discovered! Alina, mum of child tester Leo, 5, sad: “Leo mainly uses his for sleeping as ‘it’s not just a toy, but a pillow, too’. Squishmallows are on his Christmas list now, because the one he has ‘needs family’!”

Available from: Smyths Toys

4. Fingerlings Hugs, £29.99


Age: 5+

What it is: A 38cm plush version of the bestselling interactive monkey with long arms and Velcro-tipped hands that you can wrap around you for a snuggly hug. It can kiss, giggle, whoop in delight, snore and (yup) fart. You can also record your own voice for it to play back in its own way. Choose from pink Bella or blue Boris. Requires 2 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: He’s super-cuddly and super-funny, and the recording feature is a brilliant extra. Our child tester loved his kisses, how he says, “Whee!” when you throw him and was super-thrilled by his farting antics – we can’t think why.

Available from: Amazon

5. Hey Duggee Talking Soft Toy, £16.99

Age: 10 months+

What is it: A 28cm-high talking Hey Duggee plush – his 6 “woof woof” sounds are activated with a hug. He also has a plastic removable badge which can be attached to your child’s clothes. Requires 3 x LR44 batteries (included).

Why we love it: He’s soft but not floppy. He looks just like the Hey Dugee character – and fans (our child testers among them) will recognise his woofs. A great toy for an older baby – just enough sounds to be fun without being overwhelming. It’s worth noting, though, that batteries are non-replaceable – although, we’re told by our tester families, they do last for months and months.

Available from: Amazon and Argos

6. Rainbocorns Wild Heart Surprise Series 3, £20

rainbocorns wild heart surprise

Age: 3+

What it is: A large (28cm) cuddly rainbow-coloured unicorn toy with a  tuft of hair that comes in a brightly coloured egg and has a sequin heart on its chest that reveals a secret message when swiped. Comes with a surprise Booboocorn  (a miniature collectable baby Rainbocorn hidden inside another secret egg), wild nail decals, wild poo (oh yes) and a collectors’ guide. There are 7 Rainbocorns in this series to collect and unhatch.

Why we love it: Well, this is a soft toy that combines unicorns, unhatching, secret messages, surprises and collecting – nuff said! Tim, dad of our our child tester Eleanor, 5, said: “Eleanor is a great fan of unboxing things, so this toy delivers a lot of that thrill, with the added benefit of having a sturdy shell to keep putting it back into at night. She’s a massive fan of the ‘hidden message’ that changes when stroked – and the toy is now a regular fixture amongst her soft toy family.”

Available from: Smyths Toys

7. Elmer Soft Toy, £11

Age: From birth

What is it: A 17cm-high soft plush patchwork elephant with a long trunk and big ears, just like David McKee’s famous book character.

Why we love it: He’s colourful, cute, soft and huggable, which ticks all the boxes when it comes to soft toys for us – and our child testers. His bright colours make him a great first toy and, because of the association with the famous stories, he should last as a firm play favourite for years more.

Available from: JoJo Maman Bébé and Argos

8. Cordy Roy Elephant, £15

cordy roy elephant

Age: From birth

What it is: A 26cm-high spot elephant covered in jumbo cord fabric. Also comes in a bigger size (38cm) or as a soother or jitter. Also available in other designs, including a Fox, Lion, Pig, Whale and Dino.

Why we love it: The cord material is soft, and our child testers loved the its sensory feel, stroking the furry cord ‘bumps’. We like the classy design, too.

Available from: Jellycat and Amazon

9. Cuddle+Kind Violet the Fawn, from £52

Cuddle+Kind Violet the Fawn

Age: From birth

What it is: This 100% cotton yarn doll (in two sizes 13″ and 20″) is stuffed with hypoallergenic polyfiller. For each doll bought, 10 meals will be donated to children who need it most. Handmade in Peru using sustainable, fair-trade practices.

Why we love it: The dolls are beautiful, and so well-made. They’re really soft and cuddly, with such a wonderful message and mission behind it all. And our testers loved it, too. Very pricey but that money’s going on good things.

Available from: Cuddle+Kind

10. Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Fox Activity Toy, £16


Age: 4 months+

What it is: A baby fox, made from different sensory fabrics, with a removable soft, textured bandana teether round its neck. Comes with a a rattle and a chime and an extra teether, plus an attachment ring for fixing it to your baby’s buggy. Also available as a monkey, elephant, dino, puppy, kitten, lion, unicorn or raccoon.

Why we love it: This is a really good-quality first soft toy, with fabulously crinkly ears, lots of lovely textures in the body and a nice bead rattle. We really like the bandana teether, too. Our child testers all loved feeling, holding and jiggling it, and their parents were very impressed with both teethers.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

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