Purrble, an interactive stuffed toy meant to soothe anxiety, was surprising companion

A little boy sits with a Purrble. The interactive gadget uses calming sounds and vibrations to ease anxiety.

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Part of being human means times of anxiety, stress and sadness from childhood to adulthood. If you or your child have trouble calming down in times of anxiety or you deal with difficulty sleeping, a unique little product called Purrble may be able to help.

Designed “for ages 3-103,” according to the box, Purrble is a cuddly, interactive gadget that looks like a typical stuffed animal but goes further in helping its users find calm. For instance, the Purrble has a heartbeat, which may start racing until you hold it to your own chest and pet it, causing the heartbeat to slow to a gentle purr and comforting you in the process. Along with its heartbeat function, the Purrble companion sighs, giggles and snores lightly when its asleep. It has seven built-in sensors that respond to touch, fidgeting and movement. The coloring on Purrbles is all a bit different, just like a real pet, thanks to a custom dyeing method.

Purrble was created after three years of research culled from the fields of social robotics, social-emotional learning and psychology. The project is a collaboration between the Committee for Children, creators of the Second Step program, The Imagine Neighborhood podcast and Sproutel, a play-focused research and development studio.

Purrble sells for $60 on Amazon and direct from the company’s website. The brand sent me one of its adorable gadgets to try for myself and review.


Purrble Reminded Me of My Late Pet

I’ve got to be honest, as an adult that doesn’t have kids, I wondered what I would get from this product — but I fell in love with it right away. I do suffer with anxiety, insomnia and have been grieving the loss a pet, all which are things Purrble claims to help with.

Purrble came with batteries already installed, so I flipped its switch and it began making cute sounds and emitting a purr-like heartbeat. The heart was beating quickly at first, but slowed down when I held Purrble to my chest, which made me feel calm as well. It eventually fell asleep with quiet snores and a heartbeat that became longer and slower.

I didn’t expect something so cute to actually make me sad, but the purring and vibrating initially made my miss my own cat that had recently passed after 11 years with me. After a few minutes of sadness, Purrble’s noises then became comforting and by the second time I picked it up, it made me relaxed and happy. While its little noises are sweet, I actually find Purrble the most calming when it’s snoring on my lap, as the vibration feels like a purring cat.

Kaitlin Gates/Simplemost

One of the most functional features is that Purrble saves battery by essentially shutting off a few minutes after it starts snoring, signaling that it’s gone to sleep, but it starts up again once you move or pet it. That means if that if you or your child falls asleep with Purrble, it will go to sleep, too — but know that it does wake up quite easily.

It’s important to note that while it was plenty loud for me, some Amazon reviewers have said it’s not loud enough for them. I could hear my Purrble without holding it up to my ears and could even hear the little snores over the television, but if you have trouble hearing, it may not be loud enough. Personally, I wouldn’t want the volume any louder, as it would make it not as relaxing and may startle you if you’re using it to fall asleep.

While it helped me feel less anxious, I could see Purrble being even more effective for a child. The price is steep compared to a plain stuffed animal, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a small child who won’t get the benefits, but the age window of 3-103 seems right. Of course, Purrble is not a “cure” for any conditions, and if you or your children have severe anxiety or other mental health issues, you’ll want to seek the guidance of a doctor.

While Purrble comes with a 90-day warranty if it does not help you or your child, some Amazon reviews say it stopped working after the warranty was up. I asked the company for a response to the negative feedback and they said they work to find customers with complaints and will often provide a replacement at no cost even if it’s past the warranty period. The brand encourages anyone with an issue to contact them directly with questions or concerns.


Other Interactive Stuffed Companions

Purrble is essentially a lower-priced version of the interactive companions created by Hasbro’s Joy for All brand, which include ones modeled after dogs and cats. Purrble costs less than half what Joy for All’s cheapest model costs.

The Joy for All cats, which come in orange tabby, silver and tuxedo options, are priced at $125 each. Meanwhile, the dogs, which come in golden puppy and brown freckled puppy options, list for $140. Both types of companion move, emit sound and respond to touch like an actual pet. Together, they have more than 10,000 five-star reviews at Amazon, with customers saying they seem like real pets, make a great gift and work well especially in settings like nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


Do you know anyone who could benefit from a companion gadget like these?

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About the Author
Kaitlin Gates
Kaitlin is a freelance multimedia journalist with a degree in journalism and psychology. Along with Simplemost, she also writes for Don't Waste Your Money, where she loves finding great deals to help people save money. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kaitlin's work.

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