A guest post from Babble Science of Kids writer Heather Turgeon:
Your baby might say goodbye to comfort objects like pacifiers and bottles by the end of year one, but a lovey can be a favorite soothing friend for … let’s just say years to come.
Psychologists call lovies “transitional objects” — a term coined in the 1950’s by the famous British pediatrician Donald Winnicott to describe a child’s prized possession and source of calm and security.
It’s normal, even helpful, for children to have an attachment to a soft blanket or a special stuffed animal, for several reasons:
- It can make for smoother transitions
- It can act as a touch point during anxious moments.
- It can help with sleep. A familiar tactile object to hug, nuzzle and chew can become part of her repertoire of ways to fall asleep on her own, and that’s good news for everyone in the house.
Some babies choose their own favorite snuggle object naturally, but for others it helps to introduce a lovey early in the first year to encourage the attachment. When you’re choosing your baby’s future blanky, look for one made of organic cotton. For babies under 6 months, breathable muslin is your best option, in case the lovey ends up covering your baby’s face. After 6 months you can introduce a warmer, multi-layer version if your little one needs extra warmth, or one with a friendly stuffed animal attached to keep baby company in the crib.
Once you choose a lovey, sleep with it yourself for a few nights. Nurse or bottle-feed with it tucked near your baby’s body so she associates it with comfort. After that, offer it to your baby at nap and bedtime (provided you’re following SIDS recommendations). Keep in mind that it might take some time for your baby to develop an attachment to the lovey. Even if you give a blanky to your young baby, lots of children don’t show their fondness for a soft friend until sometime between six months and toddlerhood.
To help you in your lovey hunt, here are some of the best, safest, softest blankies out there, including two great DIY options:
To make the bamboo velour blanky, simply cut two squares approximately 15×15 inches, place them face to face, and sew together, leaving a two-inch opening. Use the opening to turn the blanky right side out, then hand stitch the opening closed. If you order one yard of fabric, you’ll have enough to make plenty of loveys as back up.
To turn muslin swaddling blankets into lovies, just cut cut multiple squares to the size you wish and hem the edges to prevent fraying.
And remember, no matter what you choose, always buy or make two, in case you (gasp) lose one.
Did or will you encourage your baby to use a lovey? Why or why not?