Do you remember watching the Peanuts cartoons or reading their comics as a child? No matter how many years have passed, there are certain things that always stay in our memories: That teacher who spoke funny (“wa wa wa wa wa wa“), how cute Snoopy looked when he looked up and did that funny happy dance, and Linus’s security blankie.
The emotional connection children may have to their security blanket is real. Or maybe, instead of a blankie, they prefer a toy: a tattered plush, or an old rag doll. Regardless of your child’s choice of item, there’s a name for it: The Baby Sleep site calls these items a lovey. Psychology Today calls them transitional objects. Both are terms to describe a child’s favorite comfort object. Regardless of the name you give them, either your little wonder has one, or you remember having one from when you were a child.
What does it mean?
A lovey means comfort and familiarity. When children are sad, or angry, or even just laying on the couch watching their favorite cartoons, having that blankie or Holly Hobby with them goes a long way to make them feel happy. When they have to be somewhere without mommy or daddy, it helps them deal with separation anxiety. When it’s bedtime, it helps sooth them. Sometimes, they have an even bigger emotional significance for you than for your baby; which reflects that we have, in fact, have noticed the positive effects a transitional object can have on our children.
What can I do about it?
Let your child keep their lovey. Their attachment to it is part of their developmental stage. Just make sure the attachment to a specific object is child driven and not parent driven. All to often I’ve seen parents jump hoops to get a transitional object to their child when it’s lost or forgotten. Many times, it’s a bigger deal to the parent than the child. There are going to be occasions when it’s just not possible to transition with the comfort item and they have to be ok with that!
What if the lovey gets lost?
Have several of the same or similar items in stock. If that’s impossible because your child already has a lovey and it’s a one of a kind toy or blankie, get creative. If her pink bunny rabbit disappears and you found a blue replacement, tell her the bunny got an upgrade. If there’s no way to convince them about this new development, help them get through the sense of loss, until they’re ready to pick out a new lovey.
No matter how attached our babies may be to their transitional object, or how frustrating it can be to try to get them to put it down for just one minute while you take that family picture, one thing is certain: They will outgrow it. And when they do, it’ll mean they are no longer babies. And you’ll probably long for the days when that blankie or toy was the center of their universe.
To their success, always,