Clearly, little children have a thing for soft blankies. As moms, we find the attachment sweet at times, frustrating at others. We took our questions to Dr. Aliza Pressman of Seedlings Group, who helped us understand the importance and lifecycle of lovies.
What role can a security blanket play? A security object or “lovey” is a transitional object that can provide comfort to a child when his primary source of comfort (typically a parent) is not there. That’s why they abound in preschool cubbies and at bedtime. They can also help children adapt to a new environment or simply calm down when they feel upset. Are certain children more in need of one than others? Some children are more interested in security objects than others. It really depends on the child’s temperament and what they find helps them feel better in the face of stress. You can introduce a security object to a child, then let her be the guide for when and how she will use it. When is the right time to introduce one? As soon as an infant understands the concept of object permanence (that things and people exist even when they are out of sight), signs of distress at separation may occur. That is the most helpful time to introduce a security object. This cognitive skill usually clicks between 5 and 10 months. Is there a “right way” or a “wrong way” to introduce one? It’s always helpful if mom’s smell is on a security blanket. You can introduce it as something to hold while feeding or being soothed; slowly it will become a helpful tool to calm down. Should limitations be placed on the use of a security blanket? That’s up to each family. Some prefer to keep these items at home so they don’t get lost, some only use them for sleep, others feel comfortable carrying them around and providing them for moments of distress outside the house. Is there anything to consider (other than choking hazards and healthy fabrics) when choosing one for your toddler? Consider getting multiple ones and rotating them, which could be helpful should one get lost. (This doesn’t always work, but is worth a try.) And how about winding down the security blanket attachment? Is there an age/reason to wean? There are social reasons to wean, but most preschoolers naturally limit use to private soothing time. If a child is still asking for it as he gets older, it’s fine to cut it into a smaller piece for him to keep in his pocket. Anything else to keep in mind? It’s not a bad thing. Having something that helps a child feel safe and lowers stress is a very good thing.