When my babies were about five months old, I gave them soft mini-security blankets (aka a lovey) to sleep with. It seemed crazy that a baby so young could link an inanimate object to sleeping, but it was so effective that I want to shout it from the rooftops: LINUS WAS RIGHT! HAPPINESS IS A SECURITY BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN!
How it works:
While some children do develop their own attachment to favorite blankets or stuffed animals that they drag around with them for years, that won’t happen organically as early as what I’m suggesting here. By helping your baby develop an association with a transitional object and sleep, you can benefit from her attachment to the blanket.
My kids — and Heather’s kids — all used variations of this lovey made by Angel Dear. (Around $10 on Amazon.com and comes in many animals and colors.)
We encourage you to buy three at once so that you have back-ups. Not that your child won’t have a strong preference for one of them, even if they look identical, but if you store them together and wash them together, they might be able to have similar smells and textures over time. (In fact, Angel Dear is hip to this parent hack and has begun packaging three of their animal blankies together, calling it, “A Pair and a Spare.”)
First, the loveys should sleep in the parent’s bed to absorb their smell for a while. If mom is breastfeeding, scratch that; the lovey should be absorbing her smell specifically by riding around under her shirt for a few nights. I walked around my house with a lovey in my ample nursing cleavage.
Then, when the baby is going to be put down for a nap give him his lovey to hold. If the baby is not going to be put down but is chillin’ in a car seat or Ergo, the lovey can be given to him as well.
The whys of a lovey
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transitional objects for children and notes that if you don’t offer one, your child will probably choose one before the end of his first year.
Your child may not choose a blanket, of course. He may prefer a soft toy or even the satin trim on Mom’s bathrobe. Chances are, he’ll make his choice between months eight and twelve, and he’ll keep it with him for years to come. If he’s tired, the lovey helps him get to sleep. If he’s separated from you, it will reassure him. When he’s frightened or upset, it will comfort him. When he’s in a strange place, it will help him feel at home.
My experience is that within a few weeks, handing my baby the lovey made him relaxed and sleepy. When my kids needed to begin napping at daycare outside the home, they had their loveys with them. Julian’s was a yellow duck named Mr. Quackers, or Quackers for short. So when Scarlett came along and had a pink giraffe lovey, we call it Pinkers.
Scarlett refused to accept the backup Pinkers we offered her for daycare, but I was very worried about letting the original Pinkers out of the house. I finally confessed to my bossy 2-year old that Real Pinkers had to stay in the crib, but Car Pinkers could come in the car and School Pinkers could be with her at daycare, she’s totally fine with that. I suppose the problem is my false representation of Pinkers.
Julian has lost all attachment to Quackers, but Scarlett still sleeps with Pinkers. She started first grade today.
What’s your security blanket status? Does your child like to hold something soft?