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“No, honey, don’t put that in your mouth!”
I told my three-year-old son for the millionth time that week. Andy would always chew on the edge of the Hippo pillow pet. It frightened me a little to think of the kind of dye that he could be ingesting from that stuffed animal.
He had recently been treated for an allergy and despite all my efforts to stop him from assailing the thing with his mouth, he seemed to (quite literally) have developed a taste for it. Not wanting to take any chances with the product harming my kid, I put the stuffed animal away.
About two weeks later, for my nephew’s fourth birthday, my husband and I gifted him a pillow pet that squeaked when you pressed its nose. To our amusement, he loved it, and every squeak would draw peals of laughter from him. Later on, though, his mother found that the squeak would sometimes wake him up if he rolled onto the nose in his sleep.
It may have been just another misadventure with a toy, but the incident made me sit down and actually wonder about pillow pets. Being an ardent fan of stuffed animals myself (they are just so adorable, could I help it!?), I know that children and sometimes adults can make a lot of physical contact with them on a daily basis. Therefore it becomes imperative that they should be as safe, reasonably priced and easy to maintain.
So I set out to study and review several pillow pets and stuffed animals in order to know exactly how and what to buy for my kids. Here are some tips on how to pick the best pillow pet for your child:
If you are on a hurry and want to save some time (spoiler alert), click here to see my choice for best pillow pet when it comes to safety, price and durability. If you want more options keep reading this article.
WHAT ARE PILLOW PETS?
Pillow pets were invented about ten to fifteen years ago when someone had the bright idea to use a stuffed animal as a pillow. Apparently, they were ticked off for the same reason we all are: their son had been flattening his stuffed animals at night when he rolled over them. And so, with the smart addition of a Velcro strap the pillow pet was born. Though initially there were limited kinds of pillow pets, the idea caught on and now there are several different varieties on the market.
As a mom, I recommend you buy a pillow pet based on the kind of child you have. If they are bubbly and experimental, buy them a stuffed animal that will keep them entertained. If they are quiet and shy, buy them one that makes them feel safe. If they love the smell of freshly baked cookies, you can buy a cookie-scented plush, too!
Intrigued, I put myself to the task of finding the perfect pillow pet. I had and still do have a wonderful time sifting through tons of the cutest little plush toys. We never really grow up, do we? To keep things as simple as possible, I formulated a couple of guidelines when it comes to buying these toys.
CHOOSING THE BEST PLUSH TOYS
The three most important factors every mom should consider are:
- Safety (it should be nontoxic and child-friendly)
- Durability or Longevity
- Special features
But let’s not forget the price, right? Don’t be fooled by the myth of, ‘the higher the cost, the higher the quality’. You’ll just end up getting ripped off, and trust me, that stuffed animal doesn’t have diamond encrusted eyes.
To make things easier for you, I’ve given a couple of examples of the toys I felt were top notch. Or you can also check this list I’ve compiled of the best pillow pets on the web.
BEST PILLOW PET BY CATEGORY
Safety: It is of the utmost importance, and essential to find out whether the toy is safe for your child or not. This includes checking if the dye used for the stuffed toy is non-toxic and the fur does not fall out easily. Also, you need to make sure that it’s non allergic. One factor could be dust mites, as in Andy’s case, but even the dye or fur of these toys can trigger a reaction.
A safe bet would be a product that conforms to ASTN and EN71 regulations. But don’t let that stop you from buying a product you know is safe and that you know your child would love.
So make sure you read the information instructions on the product well, because your child will be taking this object to bed, nibbling on it and cuddling it. If the stuffed animal is scented, make sure the smell is bearable and not too strong. Stuffed animals with lights should not heat up, or they will disturb your kid’s sleep. Overall, a good pillow pet should be completely harmless. A good example of a child friendly pillow pet is this little Pokemon:
It conforms to the basic safety regulations and is good for kids of all ages. The material used is chenille fabric, so the fur will not come off, and it will be the softest, cuddliest surface you’ve likely ever felt. If your kids like Pokemon, take a look at my list of Pokemon pillow pets right here for more options.
Washability: Let’s face it, ladies, laundry time shouldn’t see this product coming out of the hatch like a hideous parody of its former self. Nor should it need to be hand-washed in milk and honey, so delicate that a slight pull will create a stretch when wet. You should be able to wash the toy easily and have it maintain its shape, it should dry out completely in a reasonable amount of time, and should not pick up mold three days later.
You shouldn’t need Saharan sunshine or hours of endless fluffing to bring it to its original state. Just in case it flattens, however, there are tutorials out there on how to get it back to its former glory with a bit of stuffing and patience, so you won’t have to go out of your way to buy another. Additionally, you needn’t be a masterful tailor to get the job done. I know I’m not!
Most of the pillow pets on the internet shopping sites are machine washable, so you won’t have much trouble coming across one that will slip into your laundry routine as easy as pie, but I can’t possibly let my research go in vain, can I? So here’s an easy washable pillow pet.
It comes with clear instructions on how to wash (gentle cycle and air drying). Your pillow pet will be sparkly clean in no time. If you are looking for stuffed animals for girls, follow this link for more options.
Durability: Keep in mind that your stuffed animals should not have the shelf life of cheese. Though we should all discourage our young ones from biting or gnawing at the pillow pets, it needs to be known that an awkward nip once in a while should not produce a mouth full of fluff. Your pillow pets shouldn’t fall to pieces at a tug-o’-war between your kid and the dog, as this fiasco happens very frequently at my place. It’s necessary that they last at least as long as your money’s worth.
Keep in mind the cost. A good stuffed animal will last at least three years, and should stick around for posterity’s sake after your kid has grown out of it. In the case of pillow pets that come with features such as glow-in-the-dark, that special feature may not last long.
Another point to be considered is the fabric of the pillow pet. Dream Lite fabric is recommended to give your child a better, more comfortable sleep. However, Dream Lite is less durable than regular fabric, and gets worn out quite quickly. A good example of a durable product is this cute frog:
Special features: Some pillow pets are huge, jumbo sized creatures, while others have weird features such as lighting up when pressed in a particular way, or making noises (I find this rather creepy, but my sister’s son loves it). Some pillow pets have lights on their back that projects a pattern onto the ceiling if they are turned on. The pattern can be varied, and a timer turns it off after a particular time period, but I personally would not recommend this because it could distract the child from sleep. Although it does have its advantages if your little tyke is afraid of the dark or the Bogeyman.
Other pillow pets are scented (look for safety indications on this, too; the smell should not be too strong) and still others come with accessories. You also get body pillars that are round and cuddly and are quite perfect to take on a vacation for your child. An example of a body pillar is this adorable little cow:
There are also loads of accessories that accompany the pillow pet or that you can purchase separately. Things like pillow pet purses, backpacks and pouches are quite popular. Ultimately, we would have to choose something that our child likes and that would be comforting at bedtime. A example of these cool, unique stuffed animals is this penguin that glows.
This product contains twenty LED lights that emit a glow, but do not heat up. Heating is an important thing to avoid, for obvious reasons. For one thing, it will disturb your kid’s sleep and can also cause heat radiation. This product has a timer which can automatically switch of the lights after twenty minutes.
You should take a lot of care to dust them regularly. Your kid needs to be kept away from them if they develop allergy symptoms. At least until you determine what is the cause of the allergies.
The cost of the pillow pet should be comfortable for your pockets, meaning there is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on this toy, ok? A well-priced pillow pet is something along the lines of this unicorn.
Keep in mind that a Jumbo pillow pet will require a jumbo amount of washing, too, and may not be the best option if you’re a busy mother. Also, washing should be done only with cold water, and not hot or warm water as a general rule, unless the washing instructions say otherwise.
TOP PILLOW PET CHOICE
As for me, I felt that this Monkey was the best option and so I bought it. It was reasonably priced, child-friendly and easy to wash as compared to many other pillow pets. Andy also happens to really like monkeys. He’s like a little one himself.
So far I haven’t had trouble with it: my dog has thrashed it around the room once, but it stayed miraculously intact and, although my son has curbed his teething ways, he still rubs it along the floor, making it dirty often. Luckily, it’s easy to wash and clean, and so it remains in good shape.
I did not want to buy a pillow pet with a projector or glow, primarily because my son is a light sleeper, and it could easily keep him up. We are old, simple souls, he and I. We bought a simple stuffed animal, but it has served us well enough. It now sits on his bedside table, and stays faithfully under his sweet little head every night.