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10 of the best soft toys

Cuddly bears, puppies, giraffes – and huggable versions of favourite TV characters: we've found the very best soft toys for babies and children to snuggle and love

10 of the 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. Beamies, £3.49 each

– Great for glow-in-the-dark comfort

Beamies World

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A range of 10 18cm-high plush soft toys that glow in the dark. Choose from a range of colourful characters, including Sofia the Unicorn (above, left) and Olivia the Squirrel (above, right) and Splash the Magical Mermaid.

Why we love it: They're very, very soft and undeniably cute and collectible – and the glow factor makes them comforting bedtime buddies. Our parent testers were also impressed with their quality, given the price. Azra, mum of our child tester Izaan, 4, said: "This toy looks and feels more expensive than it is. My son started playing with it straight away and has not put it down ever since! He's taken it to bed also – it's definitely a hit in our house. It's also really cute looking."

Available at: The Entertainer

2. Bluey Jumbo Plush, £19.99

– Great size for hugs

bluey

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A big (46cm-tall) soft toy, made in velboa faux fur, in the shape of the popular CBeebies character Bluey.

Why we love it: Australian cartoon character Bluey only arrived on CBeebies recently but this 6-year-old blue heeler puppy is already a hit with young viewers – and this oversize toy brings her brilliantly to life. Well-stuffed, soft and big enough to be extremely huggable, she's ideal for bedtime snuggles and makes a lovable daytime companion, too. "Bluey came with us to most places this week," reported Maeve, mum of our child tester Arlo, 3. "My son had her doing lots of different activities: playing in the garden, going for walks, even brushing teeth. He also loved watching the show with her in his lap, then recreating bits he remembered.”

Available at: Argos and Amazon

3. Scruff-a-Luvs Cutie Cuts, £29.99

– Great for added-value play

Scruff-a-Luvs Cutie Cuts

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5+ | Batteries: 2 x AAA (included)
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: A super-shaggy 23cm-high puppy (a Yorkie or a Frenchie) that comes with clippers for you to clip its fur into a tidier shape and stuff the clippings into a little cushion for your pup to sit on. Includes a comb, collar tag, nail polish and other styling accessories – and a box that doubles as a pooch-pampering salon.

Why we love it: This toy certainly has a lot of wow factor: the clippers make a great buzzing sound, there are accessories to unwrap and, well, who wouldn’t love to paint a pup’s toenails? The dog itself is a cute soft toy once shaved and shampoo’d but obviously the thrill is all in the initial unboxing and clipping. "I loved cutting her hair and washing and drying her," said our child tester Annabelle, 7 . "It was a lot of fun and I loved bathing and drying her. This is one of my best toys and I really hope Santa will bring me another one."

Available at: Smyths Toys, Argos and Amazon

4. Squishmallows Wave 8, £7.99 each

– Great for collecting

squishmallows sparkle the bear

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: The latest additions to the ever-expanding collection of 18cm-high soft plush animals, each with their own quirky character, downloadable birth certificate and special name.

Why we love it: There’s a very cute pink elephant in this latest Squishmallows collection – but they are all SO irresistibly squishy and squeezable, as our child testers all rushed to report. Olivia, 9, who tested Bliss the Sparkle Bear (pictured, above) spoke for them all when she said, "OMG she's amazing! I love her: she's so soft." Bestselling soft-toy class.

Available at: Smyths Toys

5. DesignaBear Colourful Giraffe, £10

– Great bright colours

DesignaBear Colourful Giraffe _

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 18 months+ | Batteries: None
Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2021

What it is: An 18cm-high supersoft cuddly cream giraffe with multicoloured spots. Comes in a carry box, with a 'hug card' for its new owner. A range of outfits and accessories are available separately.

Why we love it: He's cute, a good size, very cuddly – and arrives beautifully packaged. And it's nice to see a quality soft toy in proper bright, rather than pastel, colours. Our child tester Cameron, 4, said, "He’s called Calum and he's squishy and I like cuddling him. I like his spotty fur. Calum likes the slide and trampoline but not football."

Available at: Argos

6. Hey Duggee Talking Soft Toy, £16.99

– Great for fun sounds

Hey Duggee Talking Soft Toy

Age suitability: 10 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+| Batteries: 3 x LR44 (included)

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.

Why we love it: He's soft but not floppy. He looks just like the Hey Duggee 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 that they do last for months and months.

Available at: Amazon and Argos

7. Rainbocorns Wild Heart Surprise Series 3, £20

– Great for hidden message thrills

rainbocorns wild heart surprise

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Batteries: None

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 at: Argos

8. Elmer Soft Toy, £12.99

– Great first cuddly toy

Elmer Soft Toy

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: None

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 at: JoJo Maman Bébé

9. Cordy Roy Elephant, £22

– Great for sensory cuddles

cordy roy elephant

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 9 months+ | Batteries: None

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 at: Jellycat

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

– Great sustainable choice

Cuddle+Kind Violet the Fawn

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2+ | Batteries: None

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. They are very, very pricey but that money's going on good things.

Available at: Cuddle+Kind

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About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

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