Hot water bottles are great for keeping your toes cosy in bed at night, but they're not ideal for cuddling, or applying heat to achey body parts, because they're rather stiff and hard. Bean bags are better because you can make them any shape and they mould to your body. I like long snakey ones that can wrap around your neck and shoulders, and squarish ones that you can hug to your belly or back. You heat them up in the microwave and they're blissful.
Eleanor made herself a bean bag whilst she's been off school. She decided she wanted to make a dog. We cut out a piece of dog-coloured fabric using a sheet of A4 paper as a template (just a plain rectangle - I decided making it dog-shaped was a bit too advanced, but we added features to make it look dog-ish). We folded it in half, and Ellie sewed up two sides with the sewing machine. We turned it inside out and added dog features using scraps of felt and fabric pens, then we filled it up with beans. We used aduki beans; I buy dried beans in bulk for cooking and sprouting so we had plenty. It took about half a pound of dried beans to fill a bag this size. I also added some dried lavender from Steph's garden. Ellie slip-stitched it closed (and I went over the seams to make sure there were no holes big enough for beans to escape through), and it was finished.
Thirty seconds in the microwave heats up the bag so it's cosily warm but not too hot to hold against your skin. It also releases the lavender scent. The bag keeps its temperature for half an hour to an hour, so it's not as good a bedwarmer as a hot water bottle, but it's a cosy cuddle for aches and pains, or poorly children at bedtime.