Security blankets are one form of a lovey or a comfort object that helps soothe babies especially when they become more alone and need to feel secure and comfortable. Having security blankets is perfectly normal but there is proper timing of introducing them and allowing them to stay with your baby, especially during bedtime.
From the moment they are born, babies want to be in the loving comfort of their parent’s arms. It gives them a sense of security and eases anxiety.
As your little one begins to move around or starts to be alone, the need for something familiar begins to sink in, especially during bedtime. This is where a transitional object, also called a lovey comes in.
A lovey is a form of security object that reduces the sense of separation thus helping comfort the baby. It is called a “transitional object” because it helps your baby transition from being with you all the time to being more alone most of the time.
It also gives comfort to babies and toddlers from the transition from one room to another or from home to a different place (i.e. daycare).
A lovey can be a security blanket, a plushie, a soft toy, a pacifier, or even a burp towel and stands as your baby’s first “possession”.
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- Security blankets are one example of a lovey object. Loveys are objects to which your baby gets attached to. It provides comfort and reduces stress in babies.
- Having a security blanket is normal, not having one is also normal. So, don’t worry if your baby does or does not have any attachment to loveys (stuffed toys, blankets, burp cloths, etc.)
- Babies and toddlers with loveys will experience stress when it is not with them. As parents, we need to learn how to handle and prepare for such.
How do security blankets and other loveys work?
Babies are using all their senses to give meaning and understand their environment. This includes touching, mounting, and smelling objects in their surroundings. When a blanket or a toy is introduced early on, your baby will associate it with you, especially if you carry your baby with the toy or blanket.
Therefore, even when you are not there, as long as their loveys are around, they will associate it with you being with them.
Why do children need security blankets?
Children need security blankets to feel safe, secure, and to feel comfortable especially when the parents are not around. But there are more benefits to having one.
A security blanket or a plushie toy can be introduced as early as 3 months old. Later on, it serves as a sleeping aid for children, especially when they wake up at night and parents are not there to comfort them. It can also serve as a familiar toy that they bring with them wherever they go.
Having a security blanket proves to help your toddler a lot. Some of the major benefits include:
Reduces stress and anxiety
The main benefit of this is to help your baby/toddler cope with anxiety and reduce stress especially when traveling and being exposed to a different environment. It provides comfort, especially during times when you are not around.
Teaches “independence” and helps them to take more risks
In addition to reducing anxiety, it empowers your baby to do more and move around more, knowing that they have some form of security with them all the time.
Loveys help them not to cling to you all the time, it teaches them independence since they have their blankets as their “support system.”
Helps with sleeping
One of the major benefits of having a security blanket is that it aids babies and toddlers in their sleep. Your baby may wake up in the middle of the night and would cry for comfort.
By having a security blanket, your baby can get a sense of security and comfort even when you are not there. It will help him self-soothe and eventually fall asleep.
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Teaches compassion and empathy
This is applicable to your baby’s plushies and stuffed animals.
Babies and toddlers think of toys, especially stuffed animals as animate objects. They will try to talk to it, feed it, and act as if it’s alive and has feelings. They treat it as a friend and with this, teach your child how to be compassionate and emphatic.
How do I clean my baby’s safety blanket or stuffed animal?
Once your baby is attached to his security blanket, it’ll be hard to wean it out. When not cleaned, it will be all grimey and will be a breeding ground for bacteria that may make your baby ill.
The trick is to wash it early on before your baby gets attached to the smell.
Clean it when your baby is asleep. Taking it away when he is awake will cause unnecessary stress and anxiety to your baby.
It also helps if you have duplicates to avoid the early wear and tear of his toy. Plus, you never have to worry if one gets misplaced.
Do I have to take my baby’s security blanket away later on?
The quick answer is no, you don’t since security blankets offer relief from stress, and taking them away may cause anxiety and trauma.
What you can do is impose limits, like toys and blankets are only allowed at home, inside a room, or inside the car.
You can make the item less available but not totally unavailable. You can also give reassuring comments like “your blanket will wait for you when you get back”.
The key is to have it available in cases where your toddler needs it.
Also, it is important to remember that children should be the ones to say when to let go of their lovey. What we can do as parents is to guide them
Will my baby develop an attachment disorder by having a lovey?
Some say that those with attachments to security blankets have the same symptoms as those with Borderline Personality Disorders. While the symptoms may be the same, the cause is different.
With Borderline Personality Disorder, the cause of attachment is a deep fear of abandonment where these objects become necessary.
With loveys, your baby is having this attachment to the object. It is not caused by abandonment issues, but because of the comfort, these objects provide.
Don’t worry! You are still your baby’s primary source of comfort, love, and security.
Key reminders about security blankets and other lovey toys
You can start introducing a lovey as early as 3 months when you see your baby starting to grasp objects. Having a lovey, especially a security blanket helps ease tension, and stress and provides security and comfort.
While we can introduce these objects early on, it is a no-no to leave these objects in your baby’s sleeping area or crib. It is best to do this when your baby reaches 12 months of age as it may disrupt their sleeping or cause emergencies.
It is also important to highlight that having spares is important if you could find one as it will make you and your baby’s life easier. Apart from not worrying about them getting lost, it is easier to clean, maintain and prolong the life of their toys.
Security Blanket is normal.
Your baby having a security blanket or a comfort toy is as normal as babies without one. And being severely attached to it even after toddler years is just as normal. It helps your baby with stress and anxiety and teaches them to be more independent.
So go ahead, let your baby indulge!