Whether you call it a lovey, doggy, blankie, or ducka, that’s what we call it at our house, a transitional object can be your child’s friend to help them with transitions and sleep.
One of the biggest challenges I hear as a Gentle Sleep Coach is that my child won’t take a lovey. The biggest mistake parents make when trying to help their child attach to a lovey is that they don’t stick with it and give up. A lovey is a healthy and helpful part of your child growing and developing.
According to Healthy Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “These special comforts are called transitional objects, because they help children make the emotional transition from dependence to independence. They work, in part, because they feel good: They’re soft, cuddly, and nice to touch. They’re also effective because of their familiarity. This so-called lovey has your child’s scent on it, and it reminds him of the comfort and security of his own room. It makes him feel that everything is going to be okay.”
It takes time for your child to attach to a lovey. It’s not until about 9 months of age where they might actually attach to something. Prior to that, you are just providing a familiar friend for your child once they are rolling and sitting up on their own.
Chances are you are going to pick or use a lovey you received as a gift for your child. If you have multiple, you may want to share both and see if your child gravitates towards a particular feel, color, attribute they find appealing.
If your child hasn’t attached to a lovey, take a look at what they gravitate towards. You can provide them with some choices of blankies or loveys you already have and see which one they pick. The other interesting thing about toddlers is that sometimes they will vary it up from day to day. One day it might be car, a stuffed animal, their toy of a day, or even a utensil. And yes I said, even a utensil! My son Connor LOVED to carry a ladle, spatula, or even a spoon, and would snuggle that along with his blankie. It was a short lived stage, and it was special and unique for my Connor!
Here are some steps to help your child attach to a lovey:
- Hold it while you are nursing or bottle feeding
- Play with it at tummy time- this helps make it a familiar friend
- Bring it along for car and stroller rides
Other success tips for loveys
- Try to encourage an item that is washable and replaceable.
- Use a lovey with sensory tags for rubbing, sucking, and soothing
- Have 2 just in case you lose one or if you need one for daycare or grandma’s house.
I know you might be worried, what if my child ends up like Linus, from Charlie Brown, and carries it all over the place?
It’s ok to set limits with your child’s lovey and make it an “at home item.” Allow them to use it for comfort through the upset moments.
Our lovey experience
From my personal experience, Bailey my now 4 year old prefers old ducka much more than new ducka. New ducka came as a result of losing ducka, which was a good fix, but once we had both, he enjoyed having both friends to snuggle with at night and play with during the day at home.
Connor my 6 year old has a Mickey toddler comforter as his blankie. He brought it to preschool with him the first few weeks. He never took it out and he just had it in his book bag. About 1 month into it we didn’t have to pack it anymore. I asked Connor, “Why do you like to take blankie with you? Do you use blankie?” His sweet response was, “I just keep it in my bag. It’s a little bit of home.”
When he transitioned to Kindergarten, he took on his first day with him, and then was done with it. When I asked him if he would like to use it for rest time, he looked at me like I was a crazy person to even suggest such a thing! They figure it out. He knows he only uses it for sleep in his bed. The key is to allow them to use it for comfort and not make a battle of it.
What is your child’s lovey? If your child doesn’t have a lovey, what do you think your child might attach to?