Can Bed Bugs Live in Stuffed Animals?

Every child has a favorite stuffy (or in the case of this author’s children: 100 of them!). They’re soft, cuddly, cute, and perfect for your kid to snuggle with in bed.

But can bed bugs live in stuffed animals?

Bad news: yes bed bugs can live in or on stuffed animals, but stuffed animals won’t likely be their top choice to set up their lair.

Bed bugs can live in many places, especially if your house has an infestation. The little vampires will nest in toys and stuffed animals like teddy bears. However, they prefer a place where they won’t get disturbed and moved a lot, such as dark corners, crevices in the walls and floorboards, and on the mattress

Bed bugs will likely only target stuffed animals if:

  • The stuffed animal has a crevice or hole in which they can hide (e.g. a fabric fold over a zipper)
  • The toys are close to the bed where they can nest as they wait to feed 
  • The stuffed toys are not frequently moved

Below, we take a look at what you need to know about getting rid of bed bugs.


Can Bed Bugs Live in Stuffed Animals?

Stuffed animals are not the first choice for bed bugs, but on occasion they may nest in Mr. Piggles. Bed bugs will choose many other areas before they resort to toys and stuffed animals.

They hide in stuffed animals only as a last resort or when it is convenient for them. However, the pests can live temporarily in or on stuffed animals under some conditions, for instance:

1. If the Toys are Stationery

Bed bugs dislike constant movement. They want to set up their nests in places where they can stay and rest in wait to attack their host. The bugs are unlikely to infest toys that kids play with a lot. 

The reason is that the kids throw around their stuffies, making bed bugs restless and unable to lay eggs. However, if the toy is lying around forgotten under the bed, that could be an ideal place for the pests to hide as they wait to pounce and suck your blood.

2. The Stuffed Animals Have Holes

Holes in plush toys act as entryways for bed bugs and other pests. Bedbugs are quick to notice potential hiding areas and will infest such a toy in a short time. For the most part, stuffed animals consist of soft fillings. Consequently, the latter is warm, cozy, and an ideal place to lay eggs without being noticed.

3. Teddy Bears Discarded Close to the Bed

Bed bugs nest in any item near the bed as it will give them access to the host at night. Additionally, they live comfortably in items lying close to the bed, for example, teddy bears, shoes, and pillows.

Therefore, a stuffed animal discarded near the bed is a perfect breeding place for bed bugs.

4. Toys’ Button Eyes Have Space Underneath 

Many plush toys have button eyes sewn onto them. The button eyes sometimes have ample spaces for bed bugs and other bugs to hide. Besides, looking for bugs underneath a teddy bear’s eyes rarely crosses your mind!

On that account, bed bugs find this spot perfect for hiding and hatching their eggs.


Can Bedbug-Infested Stuffed Animals Cause Harm to Children?

Children get easily attached to toys. Therefore, they will look everywhere if their teddy is missing. Besides, kids love cuddling stuffed animals in their sleep or when they feel sad. Kids will pick up a forgotten stuffed animal from under the bed and cuddle with it.

As a result, the insects may bite them and infest the bed. Then the bed bugs will breed and the cycle will continue (potentially seeking out new hosts in other areas).

Then your child could spread bed bugs to school. Fun times!


Signs of Bed Bug Bites on Your Child

Bed bugs nest anywhere in an infested home. The pests will live on clothes, cracks, and shoes. In addition, they nest on stuffed toys lying around. For that reason, they crawl into kids’ beds and attack them while they sleep. 

Bed bugs nest anywhere in an infested home.

Bed bug bites often resolve with little treatment; they may cause adverse health conditions in some instances. Furthermore, bed bug bites are easy to tell apart as they are distinct from mosquito bites and bites from other insects.

So what do bed bug bites look like?

Here is how to recognize bed bug bites:

  • They resemble red bumps or welts
  • Are often itchy
  • The bumps may swell
  • Welts have blisters around them
  • Welts will often have a zigzag pattern

How to treat Bedbug Bites in Children

Bed bug bites may resolve on their own. However, they may have adverse health effects sometimes if left untreated. They may result in spots or allergic reactions in children.

Therefore, pediatricians advise immediate treatment of the bites to alleviate pain and irritation in children. On visiting the hospital, pediatricians often recommend:

  • Over-the-counter steroid creams to reduce itching
  • Oral antihistamines to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Disinfecting kids’ toys and bedding with baby-friendly sulfur soap to minimize burning and swelling

How to Clean Infested Stuffed Animals

Honestly, if you’re able to, just toss an infested stuffed animal. If you have to, buy a new one of the same type for your child. It will be much easier (and potentially even cheaper!) than trying to get rid of the bed bugs.

If you just can’t do that, here are some tips for disinfecting stuffed toys.

1. Use Washing Machine and Dryer

Firstly wrap the stuffed animals in sealable bags. Ensure that the bag is sealed to prevent bugs from escaping. After that, put the toys in the machine and add washing powder and water. 

Wash the toys for an hour to ensure they are properly cleaned. When the washing cycle is complete, air out the toys to dry. Dealing with dead bugs in zip-lock bags is important to minimize the chances of re-infestation.

But understand that bed bugs can live for a long time in vacuum-sealed bags. This is why it’s difficult to tell when your infestation has finally been removed.

2. Is it Possible to Repel Bed Bugs?

There are many home bed bug treatments on the market, and people have varying success with these treatments.

If at all possible, spring for a professional to come and deal with the infestation. Bed bugs are one of the more difficult pests to eradicate, so if you’re going to go it alone, be prepared for a slog.


Conclusion

In summary, bed bugs can live in stuffed animals like teddy bears as they are soft, warm, and cozy. However, they prefer nesting in areas where they won’t get disturbed, like under mattresses and dark corners. 

Kids usually move stuffed animals a lot, but bed bugs may target a discarded stuffed animal under the bed, for example.

Good luck!