Loveies, softies, teddies and blankies… Those endearing, well loved,often tattered objects of security and unconditional love. They’re adorable, but are they good for your baby?
Several studies have been done on the effects of security objects and they have found many positive results with no negative effects.
Whether it is a blanket, a stuffed animal, a cloth diaper, or one of the odder things children may adopt (I have seen an oven mitt, a piece of ribbon and even a pair of mommy’s silky panties.) a security object helps your child with transition and self calming.
A familiar lovey makes it easier to adapt from one place to another, or one caregiver to another. Mommy may have to go off to work, but blankie can stay. The airport may be strange and noisy, but the familiar scent and feel of teddy is reassuring. And when baby wakes during the night it may be easier to calm themselves back to sleep with a lovey in reach.
More than half of all children in the US develop an attachment to a particular comforting object. Many will select and bond with an object on their own, but it is possible – and perhaps advisable, to encourage your child’s attachment to a particular object.
The main advantage of encouraging this attachment yourself is that you can choose the object, so you can avoid being that mom whose baby brought a pair of her underwear to daycare everyday. You can also chose an object that you know will be easy to clean or launder, and that you can obtain in multiples – to avoid the frequent searches for a misplaced lovey or the dreaded actually lost or dog eaten one.
Choose something that will hold a scent – a blanket or stuffed animal or other cloth item. Make sure it is small enough not to be burdensome to bring along everywhere, and that it is tactilely pleasing. Varied textures, satin trims on blankets, tags or “taggie” items are all interesting to explore while self comforting. A lovey should also be durable. It will be dragged around for many miles (probably by an ear or its hair), on many adventures and through many washings.
Once you have chosen an object to introduce to your baby – start keeping it with baby as much as possible, right from day one. You might try sleeping with it tucked in your shirt one night to pick up some of your scent – this is a great way to get your newborn to feel comforted by the object. A bit of your breast milk can give it a pleasing odor as well.
Your baby will not care at all at first , but be persistent – tuck it in the car seat, wrap it inside the swaddle, keep it near your baby as much as possible, being always careful not to let it get in baby’s face or present a suffocation risk to a very young infant.
If you have bought multiples of your item (you really really REALLY should – like 3 or 4!) be sure to rotate them so that they wear at the same rate. No toddler is naive enough to believe that that BRAND NEW lovey is the same as THEIR lovey.
After a few weeks of persistence you will be rewarded with a child that has a helper in tough times, a friend to stand by their side, a cherished memory for life. (Yes, that is MY own childhood lovey, sporting a new yellow bow).