Does your child have a lovey, blankie, or taggy? They can be called so many things! Security objects, or transitional objects, are usually soft items such as a blanket or stuffed animal, but can sometimes end up being something as simple as Mom’s tee-shirt or a cloth diaper. Whatever your child chooses, know that this is a completely healthy part of infancy.
Somewhere between eight and twelve months, up to 60% of babies develop an attachment to a soft item. Some researchers and psychologists have said that the item actually serves as a representation of Mom (or primary caregiver) for comfort when Mommy can’t be there. It feels so soft and soothing, and smells like home, how perfect! Whether or not that is true, we know that babies find comfort in these familiar items. By 9 months, babies begin to realize that you are not always available to snuggle and pick them up, and turn to their lovey. They are sometimes called transitional items, because baby is transitioning from dependence on you for comfort, to independently being able to self-sooth. This is a good thing!
When is having a security object a good thing? Well, when your child feels anxiety, their lovey will comfort them. When they are tired or sick, lovey is there. When they feel sad, miss you, or just need some cuddle time, lovey is there.
It can be helpful to have more than one of the favored item, so that you can keep it clean, but that’s not always possible! As a child, I had a “back up” blankie, for when Mommy washed my regular one. It’s the only time that other blanket got used!
One of my beautiful Mommy friends picked and planned the blankie for her son at birth, knowing that he was going to be in child care three days per week. They made it a part of everything they did, and blankie still goes in the back pack to give him comfort when he misses Mom.
Another little one I know likes to sit and rub the satin on the trim of Mom’s nightgown at night during cuddles. All of these are examples of comfort, and a warm, loving experience.
If your child doesn’t have a security object, no worries! It’s perfectly normal to not have a preferred item. None of my children do, even though I actually encouraged it! (Out of sweet memories of my own blanket.)
As they grow, they will learn to self-sooth in other ways. They may give up the security object between two and five years, or some children last longer. Some children aren’t ready to be done, but their soft item is now down to just a few strings, or a pile of cotton. They will have a sad few days, but they will survive. It is important, however, not to take away their security object suddenly or forcibly. That’s just too abrupt and upsetting for a child. And for young children, remember, security objects are completely healthy and normal to have.
What have you experienced with security objects with your children, or children that you know? What did they pick? How did you phase it out? Did they give it up on their own? Did you save it as a treasured memory? Share with us!