Why Your Child's Attached
Your toddler's blankie smells like a mix of old milk, baby powder, and Goldfish crackers. It's so tattered that even Goodwill would reject it. Yet to her, it's more precious than the Hope Diamond. For many 1-year-olds, comfort objects are the ultimate stress soother, especially when separation anxiety kicks in.
"Holding onto something soft, warm, and secure helps a child cope when Mom and Dad aren't around," says Ruben Gonzalez, MD, a child psychiatrist at Montefiore Medical Center, in the Bronx. A favorite stuffed animal or a familiar blanket gives your child confidence to explore her world and become more independent. It calms her when she's upset or scared and helps soothe her to sleep.
But as parents quickly discover, not just any comfort object will do. Young children believe their toy or blanket has a special property or essence that look-alikes don't, according to new research published in the journal Cognition. Even toddlers -- whose attachment to loveys generally peaks between 18 and 24 months -- appear capable of spotting a "fake" a mile away.
The bottom line: While experts say that having a strong attachment to a lovey is a healthy part of a toddler's emotional development, it can also cause you a lot of grief. We've got help for the common issues parents encounter.