Security blankets come in all shapes and sizes. My sons came in the form of a stuffed puppy.
When my son turned one, we wrapped a stuffed German Shepherd as a gift from our dog, Logan. Yes, it sounds a little silly, but JD loves our dog and he quickly became obsessed with the miniature version of Logan. When JD started talking more, he affectionately started calling the stuffed dog, “Puppy.” Creative, I know.
Puppy has become a member of the family. If we go out, Puppy has to come with us. Puppy has his own plate at the dinner table. When JD goes to Sunday school, Puppy tags right along and has his own seat regardless of how many children are in the class. When it’s time to go to bed, JD snuggles on Puppy as he falls asleep. Needless to say, Puppy is well-loved. 😉
Now, I think this goes without saying, but I am certainly not an expert in this. If you have concerns, it’s always wise to talk with your pediatrician. But, these are some things that we have learned along the way!
Why do children attach to toys or blankets?
When a child starts emotionally transitioning from dependence to independence, they often latch onto an object to make them feel secure — hence the term “transitional object”. These transitional objects are tactile reminders of their room, their home, and, most importantly, their parents! Because of this, these objects can help comfort a child through the separation anxiety and emotions they are experiencing.
Is the attachment healthy?
Transitional objects are completely healthy and normal. In fact, they are even encouraged. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, transitional objects can be extremely beneficial when incorporated into your child’s bedtime routine.
Some tips on transitional objects
1. Find a safe toy
When we got Puppy, we didn’t realize the attachment that was about to ensue. While this stuffed animal is filled with cotton, what we didn’t think about at the time was the plastic nose on the end of his snout. If you can help steer your child towards a particular toy, help choose one that is completely safe for them to snuggle, cuddle, and chew. 🙂
2. Set limits
While Puppy is well-traveled, we certainly set some limits and boundaries. When we go to a restaurant or a store, we make sure that JD leaves Puppy in the car — and sometimes we just tell him that we are going to let Puppy stay at home.
We’ve set these boundaries from the beginning and JD has always been very agreeable. It helps him understand that he doesn’t always need Puppy to feel secure.
3. Purchase a backup
We learned this one the hard way. After several months of kissing (read: chewing) on Puppy’s nose, we decided to get a new one because the nose was about to fall off. When we got to the store, they had discontinued this particular stuffed animal. Any parent of a child with a beloved toy knows the panic that ensued.
Thankfully (and surprisingly), JD handled the transition very well and loved the new version of Puppy like he was the first, but that isn’t always the case. If you can get a backup of your child’s chosen lovey, get one! If anything, it will let you wash one while still allowing your child to snuggle with the other.
4. Don’t worry
There is a popular myth that a child with an attachment to an object is insecure and weak. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve even heard it said that a child’s attachment to a “lovey” or transitional object is a sign of a strong relationship between a child and his parents and shows that his needs are consistently being met.
So, don’t worry about your child’s need for a transitional object. If you try to get rid of it before they are ready, it can do more harm than good. They’ll gradually outgrow the need as they find other ways to cope with their anxieties and emotions.
Does your child have a security blanket or transitional object? Let me know in the comments below!