Your child has a new best bud. He's well-behaved, quiet, and an expert cuddler. Of course, Mr. Bunny's matted fur also smells faintly of Desitin and sour milk, but that doesn't make him any less lovable to your little one. What's up with your toddler's intense attachment? Starting around age 1, as kids become mobile and discover that they're independent from their parents -- exciting developments that can also be the source of stress for children -- comfort items like stuffed animals and blankets may take on an important purpose. "Whether your toddler is playing with it or just holding it, having her lovey with her will automatically reduce her anxiety," explains Mark L. Brenner, Ph.D., a family therapist and author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs.
Experts refer to these items as "transitional objects" because they're just that: something to temporarily help children navigate their growing world. Not only can Mr. Bunny help your kid self-soothe when she's separated from you (if you're off at work or after you tuck her in at night), but he can also boost her confidence by making her feel more in control. You'll see an example of this when you catch her playing parent: putting him to bed, punishing him with a time-out, or expressing her love with kisses.
Grateful as you might be for a lovey's superpowers, your child's bond can cause some practical complications -- if Mr. Bunny isn't welcome at day care or he gets lost. We've got help for some of the most common frustrations.