Baby's Transitional Object

Tips for Parents

Even though your child's new best friend can't talk, he, she, or it can pose some interesting dilemmas. Find the best ways to cope with your baby's attachment to this fuzzy family member.

1. Choose safe toys. It's impossible to predict which toy or blanket your baby will latch on to, so make sure his toys aren't choking hazards. Pick playthings that are free of ribbons, buttons, and small plastic parts. Stuffed toys should be filled with cotton or acrylic batting, not beans or plastic beads.

2. Prepare for it to get lost. One drawback to your child's affinity for a particular blanket or toy is the ever-present risk that she'll lose the object -- and you'll have to face the tearful consequences. As soon as your child shows an attachment to a toy or blanket, it's wise to buy an identical spare. Just be sure to switch them off from time to time. Otherwise they won't smell or feel the same, and your child will know the difference right away.

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, loveys sometimes go missing in action. But before you rush to the store for a duplicate, feel out your child. He'll let you know if he wants a new bunny, or if a toy he already owns will fill the void. If your toddler decides that he wants a replacement, let him choose it.

3. Set limits. If your child drags her comfort object everywhere you go, you may want to establish some parameters. "Say to her, 'We play with Bunny at home, at bedtime, and on special occasions like when we stay at Grandma's, not at the store or on play dates.'" But if your child becomes inconsolable, let it go. According to Dr. Askew, it's important not to deprive her of the comfort she needs. If she wants to tote her lovey to preschool, get a small version of the toy or cut off a piece of the blanket.

4. Don't worry. If you're concerned that your child will be toting his teddy to college, relax. For a variety of reasons, most children usually choose to give up these objects by themselves," says Murkoff. By age 4 or 5, children have been in a wide variety of social situations, such as birthday parties and play dates. For the most part they have a much easier time making transitions than they did earlier and simply don't need the added comfort.

Another factor is social pressure from peers. If your child's playmates aren't toting their loveys around, he'll probably follow suit," says Dr. Askew. Doing what all the other big kids do is very important to preschoolers.

But whatever you do, don't push your child to give it up. Putting that kind of stress on your child may actually make him more attached to his lovey. Ultimately, it's best to wait until he's ready to give up his lovey on his own.

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All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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