Grownups & Their Plush Toys

Teddy Bears at the Office - Photo courtesy of Ted Percival

Photo courtesy of Ted Percival

There was an interesting plush toy survey in the UK. The hotel chain Travelodge asked 6,000 British adults about their plush toy habits. To some, the key result was surprising:

  • 35% of adults sleep with teddy bears or other plush toys.

… or, 1 in 3 of your coworkers enjoy plushy stuffed bear hugs. The cuddle-consequence is, of course, that 2 in 3 of your colleagues are missing out.

An aside… speaking as a toy maker, we’ve known for a long while that lots of adults are buying and enjoying plush toys. This is part of a larger grownup toy trend that began with ‘Generation X’. Now ~100% of the audience for some types of toys – like designer plush toys – are grownup fans. Speaking for ourselves, most of Happy Worker’s custom plush toys are indeed designed with adults in mind.

Why Adults – and Businessmen – Have Teddy Bears

The survey dug deeper into reasons why grownups have plush toys…

  • 35% of Adults sleep with their teddy because… cuddling their bear is comforting, a calming bear hug helps relieve stress after a long work day, and acts as a sleep aid
  • 25% of business men (not women) take at least one plush toy along on business trips, because it’s comforting to have a familiar friend in a strange place. Taking toys with you on trips is also called ‘toy traveling’.

The Daily Mail quoted a Travelodge spokeswoman “…we have had a large number of frantic businessmen and women call us regarding their forgotten teddy bear.” And the article noted that Prince Charles is said to travel everywhere with his favorite plush toy.

Other reasons to bring your stuffed toys with you on trips… they don’t snore, they don’t ask you ‘are we there yet’, and as far as we know hotels don’t count plush toys as ‘double occupants’.

Stuffed Toys Most Popular Adult Sleep Aid?

We thought that teddy bears might be the top dog (or stuffed dog) in sleep support. So we checked, and we were right – while 35% of adults sleep with teddy bears, 24% of adults use some other sort of sleep aid at least a few nights a month, including alcohol, over the counter medication, prescription medications, eye masks, etc. (National Sleep Foundation, 2005 ‘Sleep in America’ poll… and sadly the poll did not include a plush toy as a sleep aid).

So it appears more adults use teddy bears to help them sleep than all other sleep aids combined.

Ok, Children Play with Plush Toys Too…

From the same Travelodge study, other interesting kid plush toy trivia:

  • 14% of parents give their own childhood favorite plush toy to their children, usually as a keepsake
  • 80% of parents said the first toy they bought for their child was a plush toy
  • 62% of parents reported they wanted their children to have a plush toy to help them develop a more caring nature

Losing Your Stuffed Best Friend

The hotel chain also said their housekeeping staff found 75,000 lost and forgotten plush toys in the last 12 months in the UK, across 452 hotels. So we did a quick calculation. Out of 9 million guests at Travelodge hotels in the UK this works out to 8/1000 or close to 1% of guests forgetting their teddy bears. (I don’t know about you, but I never forget my toys!)

Ending with good news: happily, the hotel chain reunited the stuffed toys with their best friends & owners.

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