Let’s talk about “kid-proofing” or “baby-proofing” your amigurumi. No, I’m not talking about putting them in a plexiglass box or up on a high shelf.
It is inevitable that a stuffed animal will be played with, so your plush pals need to be reinforced and made with kids in mind, for safety and for longevity.
Amigurumi draw out the kid in everyone (yes, even adults). They NEED to be cuddled. Their paws need to be shaken (“Hello there!”) and their noses need to be squished (“Boop!”).
So how do we make sure that the crochet art we are making is also — dare I say it — a toy?
With the help of my two boys and their brutal tests of durability and aerodynamics, I have found several ways you can do as a crochet artist to ensure your plushies will survive the abuse of being someone’s best friend — and sometimes, being a projectile weapon.
10 Tips For Kid-Proof Amigurumi
1. Use cotton or acrylic yarn
While there are some lovely textures in wool and other animal fibers, stay away from them when making amigurumi for kids and babies. Wool can be a source of some major allergies, some of which won’t be immediately apparent, so err on the side of caution.
Only use acrylic or cotton yarn (or a blend). Both fibers are hypoallergenic and soft. Go to your local store and give a few a good squeeze before you buy.
In addition, acrylic and cotton yarns can be washed in the washing machine. This is a HUGE necessity when a teddy bear is caught in a puke fountain or dropped in a puddle at the park.
Trust me. Washable is a requirement.
2. Use clean NEW stuffing
I have seen people in Facebook groups complaining about the cost of Polyfil stuffing and recommending that people hit thrift stores for cheap stuffed animals or throw pillows in order to reuse the stuffing.
Oh please, do NOT ever use USED stuffing for an amigurumi!
Even after washing, bacteria, mold, dead skin cells, and dust mites remain in the stuffing.
Ew. Like, mega ew.
Always buy NEW, preferably polyester stuffing (no natural fibers so to avoid allergies). My favorite is Fairfield World Polyfil stuffing.
3. Prevent stuffing from slipping out
Using a hook one or two sizes smaller than the yarn label recommends will help keep your stitches tight and together.
Also, use the invisible decrease to reduce the holes that pop up during decrease rounds.
Tight stitches will help.
Not sure they are tight enough? Hold the work in front of a light and look through it. If you can see lots of light coming through, your stitches are probably too big. Try going down a hook size.
4. Stuff firmly
Stuff more firmly than you think you need to. Do not violently press the stuffing in the parts enough to stretch the work and risk spreading apart your stitches. But just when you think a leg or arm is full of stuffing, add a little more before finishing the attachment.
This is especially important with parts that are sewn along an open edge. When the part is ¾ sewn on, stuff it more to make sure the joint doesn’t flop. This will help the plushie keep its form after washing or being used as a pillow.
5. Tack down limbs so they don’t flop
You will be happy you did when you see your creation being dragged by a limb. Which brings me to my next point…
6. Double stitch ear attachments!
After working tirelessly for hours on a beautiful amigurumi dog for your four-year-old nephew, you gently tuck it into a gift bag for his birthday and prepare for him to see your masterpiece.
He tears into the sack and promptly lifts your artwork out of the bag BY THE EARS!
It’s commonplace for kids to carry stuffed animals by small, protruding parts that easily fit into small hands. Ears, horns, legs, and tails are very handy handles.
So plan ahead. Attach ears and other appendages with a standard whip stitch, then go around the same attachment AGAIN to make sure there are two layers of yarn holding that ear in place.
7. Weave in ends
It is so tempting to thread loose ends through the inside of amigurumi parts and just cut them off so they don’t show. After all, they are on the inside of the body, so what will it matter?
It will matter.
Always weave your ends into the surface of each piece. I highly recommend 4 stitches in each direction over 3 rows, back and forth.
This will ensure your piece can be stretched in any direction and still hang on to those loose ends. Then, for extra hold, you can use this invisible knotting method to really tie down that end.
8. Quality safety eyes or none at all
If you are giving this to a baby, skip the safety eyes all together. They are tempting the chew and they hurt when the baby inevitably headbutts their new teddy bear.
If the gift will be for a child over three years old or will temporarily be a decoration, buy good safety eyes.
Don’t skimp on your safety eyes!
You want safety eyes that are hard plastic, with REALLY tight backs. Cheap eyes can crack and break and loose washers can just pull the eyes right off of your piece.
I firmly believe that if you can put a washer on your safety eyes with your fingers, they are too loose. They should never, EVER come off again once they are on there.
Instead, get an insertion tool like this one from glasseyesonline.com, and don’t skimp on quality. This is one of those times to avoid Wish and the bulk packs on Amazon if possible. I get all my safety eyes from glasseyesonline.com. They are excellent quality and have never let me down, plus their customer service is top notch.
The safest choice to babies is to embroider on eyes. I usually make a short curve for “sleepy eyes” on baby gifts. Just be sure to tie off the ends so they are not loose in the head of the plushy.
9. Do not leave unattended under age three
The most important thing! Regardless of how well you put together your amigurumi or what products you use, you should not leave any child under three years old unattended with a stuffed animal. I know how cute they look as a crib decoration, but once the baby goes down for a nap, the teddy needs to come out.
No toy is truly 100% kid-proof, and plushies are no exception.
10. Ask parents first!
If you have more than one child, you know how widely your parenting style differs between kids.
The first child is often met with strict rules on cleanliness, safety, and things like fabric choices and chemicals. Then of course, you relax a bit with the second child. By the third, you are feeding them pizza by six months old and they are sleeping in bed with a sibling for naps.
Ask parents first before making a stuffed animal for their child. They may have boundaries set for fiber content, or they might not be allowing stuffed animals until the baby is older. Some parents are leery of all crochet for babies because of the holey nature of the stitches.
Respect their wishes!
Maybe you can offer to make a plushy as a decoration for a shelf in the nursery if they are not letting the baby have soft toys yet. Or maybe you can make a few small stuffed animals for a mobile instead.
Be flexible and don’t be insulted if they are not interested in your gift.
Being a parent is full of choices you never thought you’d have to make, so always be understanding and ask before you give.
Hopefully, with these guidelines, you will feel more confident handing your next amigurumi over to that rambunctious toddler. Crochet plushies can become cherished keepsakes through childhood.
With a few preparations, your gift will stand the test of time and get many, many hugs along the way…
Or maybe it will soar through the air with the grace of an eagle before hitting an unsuspecting little brother.
Kati is the designer behind Hooked by Kati. With thousands of patterns sold around the world, Kati prides herself in creating innovative, easy-to-follow amigurumi patterns. She has designed for several publications, including Crochet!, Crochet World, Simply Crochet, and I Like Crochet. Kati finds her inspiration in science fiction, video games, and numerous visits to the zoo — all passions she shares with her husband and two boys.