IT may look like a cuddly toy with a zip where its mouth should be, but no. This is Sorgenfresser Worry Eater — a bi-lingual name for the same thing.

Apparently, this creature can help children by helping little ones to "throw" away their darkest fears.

So how does it work? The process is simple. The little worrywarts are encouraged to write down, or draw a picture of, the things that upset them most and put the note in the Sorgenfresser Worry Eater's mouth, which is then zipped closed.

By doing so, the child may just draw a line under their anxieties, allowing them to move on, so goes the theory.

It's said to help the youngsters overcome their embarrassment or fear of talking about stuff with their parents.

What's more, once the note has been deposited in the toy, parents can retrieve it to check what's troubling their offspring.

The creature is the brainchild of German children’s TV animator Gerd Hahn, and has been a big success.

A survey by the British distributors, Coiledspring Games, found one in three parents believe that children today are under so much pressure that they worry more than they did, so there's clearly a market.

Apparently, Gerd used his own experience of lying awake at night worrying he may have to shut his studio after a major customer failed to pay a bill. That was the lightbulb moment — he wished there was a monster to eat up these worries, which led him to think of the idea of a worry monster as a toy.

The first variation was called Saggo, however there is now an wider range, with names like Biff, Betti, Bill, Frula and Flint.

The toys have collected a series of awards in Europe and the UK.

As seller (which offers the toys at £19.95) recommends: "Scribble, scrunch and let that worry eater munch!"