What new parents need to know about loveys

by | Apr 19, 2021 | Child development, Featured, Infant, Parenting

What’s a lovey?

It’s a blanket, a teddy bear or some other object that children attached to. They use loveys to comfort themselves at bedtime and in other situations where they feel the need for something cozy and familiar. 

The psychological term for this is “transitional object.” Why? Because as babies journey from being a wholly dependent newborn to an independent preschooler, a lovey can help with the transition. About 50% of kids develop an attachment to some sort of lovey, also called a “comfort object”. Those who do usually gravitate to a lovey around age 8 to 12 months. Some start wanting one as early as 6 months. Attachment to a lovey peaks at around 18 months. 

Here’s the top 5 things to know about your baby’s lovey:

First off, about 50% of children get attached to an object of some sort, usually a blanket or soft toy

This attachment begins at 8-12 months and can last a few years. Interestingly enough, this is about the time your baby begins to be mobile. I think babies kinda like the comfort of a lovey to carry along as they move out into the world.

Second, loveys are helpful for parents too

The nice thing about a lovey is it helps your baby self-soothe. In other words, if she’s feeling unsure about a situation, a lovey can help your little one find comfort and security when you’re not right there. A new sitter, going to grandma’s, starting a new child care center, even moving from one class to another at child care – these situations can be helped with the comfort of a lovey. Just knowing they have it with them helps you feel better. And motivates you to MAKE SURE you don’t lose it!

Third, loveys can be any object, not just a blanket

Most children will become attached to an object that is used often at a time when they’re seeking a little extra comfort. A blanket, stuffed animal, mom’s bathrobe, a soft baby doll ~ these are the most common objects children attach to. However, sometimes more unusual things like rubber ducks, toy trucks, tv remotes or a plastic spoon have been known to become loveys.  😃

Fourth, you might wonder when your child should give it up

When I was a young mom, our pediatrician always said, “if you want her to give something up like a paci or bottle, do it by 22 months.” Common sense tells me that you don’t need to worry too much about helping your child give up their lovey. They’ll do it when they’re ready. Taking it away because “you’re a big girl now” is simply not necessary and could potentially turn into a source of conflict. Usually as children become interested in the larger world around them and in playing with peers, the lovey takes a backseat. And until then, you can suggest leaving the lovey in the backseat or at home in daily situations to help them practice living without it.

Lastly, you don’t need to worry about your child becoming too attached

Most importantly, there’s no such thing as a young child loving a lovey too much. Of course, you know your child and will be able to discern if the attachment is becoming a source of anxiety or if they’re preferring it over interactions with people. But there’s nothing wrong with your child still having a lovey around as she grows up, as long as she isn’t dependent on it. My granddaughter has two loveys that she sleeps with. And she’s turning six soon. I find her love for those little bears very endearing. 😍 

I always introduced a lovey to our foster babies. Here’s why.

Our family fostered about 5 infants for varying lengths of time. One of the first things I did when we got a new placement was to determine if they had something in their own belongings that could serve as a comfort object. And if they didn’t, I’d buy one and begin the process of introducing it. I wanted each baby to have something they could take with them in the eventual transition to another home, a transition which often came without much warning. 

Generally, kids who want or need a lovey gravitate naturally to one on their own, so whether or not they actually became attached was kinda 50/50, so this didn’t always work – but I tried!

You can encourage a developing attachment by having a potential lovey as you rock your baby to sleep, feed them, go new places, such as the doctor or a visit with someone they not familiar with. In theory, your child will start associating the lovey with a feeling of well-being and then use it for comfort when you’re not there. 

In conclusion, what should you do if your baby doesn’t seem to care so much for a lovey? No problem! They’ll still enjoy playing with those soft teddy bears and baby dolls and snuggling up in a soft blanket. Especially with you. 

Are you pregnant? Then you definitely need to check out our courses for new parents! Birth School helps you get ready for labor and delivery, know how to strengthen your body for delivery and postpartum, get ready to feed your baby and get your ‘nest’ all set up. Our Newborn course teaches you the things you have to know the minute you walk through the door with your new baby – how to feed, burp, swaddle, bathe, soothe, diaper, dress, get to sleep + how to take care of YOUR needs as a new parent.

Check out play ideas for 3-6 month olds and 6-9 month olds!

Meet Ann

I'm a child development specialist, parent coach and teacher trainer. I've cared for countless babies in child development programs, plus 3 kids, 3 grand babies and 5 foster babies! I LOVE babies and would come hold yours if I could. ❤️

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