In the first year of a baby’s life, there will be a lot of changes. As your baby transitions from the womb to their new home, these transitions can be difficult. Getting accustomed to their new world, learning to sleep on their own, and gaining control over their own little bodies are just a few of the struggles they’re bound to navigate their way through.
There are a lot of things we can’t control. But we can help ease the discomforts in our little one’s life with a few simple tools and techniques. Using a lovey or security blanket is an easy way to help a baby feel reassured through some of these big changes.
What are lovies? How do lovies work?
Lovies and security blankets are made to be sources of comfort for your baby. They’re called “transitional objects” or “comfort objects” because they’re known for helping a child transition from being completely dependent on their parents to managing their own emotions and building their own personalities. A transitional object can be a cherished blankie or a small stuffed animal, or anything that a child forms a special bond with.
One of the main reasons to use a lovey is to provide a feeling of safety when your little one experiences separation anxiety. Comfort objects act as a bridge between the infant’s mother and the rest of the world. These safe feelings in turn empower the child by boosting confidence because they eventually feel more secure in uncomfortable situations.
Using lovies for sleep training
Another great reason why you should use a lovey is that they can be great tools when you’re sleep training. When the time comes for your baby to be able to fall asleep without your help, having a super soft lovey by their side can help them to feel safe.
Making a lovey part of your napping routine gives your child a physical cue that lets them know when it’s time to go to sleep. If you reserve the lovey for sleep time only, your little one will start to associate it with sleep.
When to introduce a lovey to a baby
The right time to introduce your little one to a lovey will depend on their development and personality. Motor skills and strength should be taken into consideration. Always consult your pediatrician if you’re unsure.
A lovey can be introduced to a child when they’re as young as four months old, but the comfort object should be removed from the crib once the baby falls asleep. This also may be too early for some children to form a bond. Most babies won’t be ready to attach to an inanimate object until they’re close to nine months in age, but of course, this will depend on the individual.
Dr. Natalie Barnett, an expert in pediatric sleep science, says that around twelve months is the best time to introduce a lovey. By this time, the Moro reflex (or startle reflex) has diminished and your little one won’t need to be swaddled anymore.
Are lovies safe?
When choosing your lovey, make sure it’s safe for your little one by checking that there are no choking or suffocation hazards. Any small plastic pieces, loose clothing, or other articles that could be removed from an item aren’t safe choices. Choose a stuffed animal with embroidered eyes over plastic ones to be on the safe side. Also, make sure that it’s not big enough that it could be used as a stepping stool to climb out of the crib.
What age can babies sleep with a lovey?
After a child reaches twelve months in age (or when they can roll over on their own), it’s considered safe to leave them with a stuffed animal or security blanket while sleeping. However, if your child’s chosen lovey is a blanket, be sure that it’s not large enough to pose a suffocation hazard.
How to introduce a lovey
Sometimes, a child will become attached to a special toy or blanket on their own. If this isn’t the case with your little one, there are ways that you can encourage the bond.
One of the best ways to introduce a lovey to a child is to position it between you and your baby when you nurse or feed with a bottle. This will infuse the object with your smell, which is important in the bonding process. Your smell is also a source of comfort to your child when they’re experiencing separation anxiety, according to sleep consultant Brooke Nalle.
When introducing the transitional object, start to take it with you everywhere you go. Include it in your errands and outings until an attachment is formed before incorporating it into the sleep routine. Make the comfort object like a part of your family, a reliable best friend. It should have a name, be part of every mealtime, ride in the car seat with baby, and be a part of everything baby is doing.
Eventually, your little one will pick up on these cues and associate the item as a source of comfort, reassurance, and safety.
What is the best lovey for a baby?
When deciding on the best lovey for your baby, any item that they find soothing and form a bond with can be a great choice. However, there are a few general guidelines to follow:
- A lovey shouldn’t make noise (nothing with rattles or crunching). This might disturb your baby’s sleep.
- It should be large enough that it’s not a choking hazard, but small enough that it’s not a suffocation hazard.
- Keep safety in mind - don’t use anything that has detachable parts.
- Texture and smell are important. Babies will love super-soft items that feel good on their skin. Smell helps them form a bond and feel a sense of safety and reassurance.
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