Parents, are you wondering when, if, or how to introduce a lovey, blankie, teddy, or as we sleep specialists call it- a transitional object- to your child’s crib? If so, here are some tips that may help your decision:
1) A lovey can help make your baby feel safe and secure in their crib or bed and even ease the separation anxiety that is often associated with bedtime. In fact, sleep specialists believe a lovey can help a child learn to soothe themselves to sleep and back to sleep during the night thus helping them get the rest necessary for proper development. Children who can soothe themselves have an easier time developing lifelong healthy sleep habits than those who cannot.
2) Consider whether your child is old enough to have a stuffed animal or blanket in their sleeping environment. The current American Academy of Pediatric recommendation is to have a completely empty crib until one year of age in an effort to reduce the risk of SIDS and sleep related deaths in infants. This does not mean however, your child cannot safely have a transitional object to help soothe them. The Bitta Blankie (www.bittakidda.com) is a great example of how to introduce a soothing blankie in a safe way. The Bitta sleeper comes with small bits of blanket attached to the front of the sleeper that your little one can hold and rub but since they are attached they cannot cover their face or get wrapped around their necks. Ideal because it cannot fall out of the crib or get lost! If you are unsure about the safety of giving your child a lovey please contact your pediatrician for individual advice.
3) Think about whether your child will use it only for sleep or if you will allow them to carry it out into the world? This is an important question to consider before you introduce the lovey. Limiting the object to sleep and to the crib can decrease the likelihood of the object getting lost or damaged during your trip to the store or to grandmas. Keeping their beloved bear or bunny in the crib also teaches your child to associate that object with sleep which may help with bedtime battles. Whether or not you will allow the lovey out of the bedroom you should buy more than one of the same object in case one is in the wash, gets damaged, the dog eats it or some other mishap comes your way. Rotate them so that they are equally loved and broken in ensuring seamless transition between the two.