Frequently, parents ask if a comfort blanket or toy can help their baby or toddler sleep better and feel more secure. The simple answer is yes, for many babies they are very useful indeed.
Comfort blankets and toys are known as transitional objects and as the name suggests, can be very useful in helping babies and toddler make the transition from awake to asleep. Additionally, they help kids feel safer when they are separated from parents, such as at a nursery or crèche. The baby comforter helps a child to feel safe, calm, and happy, so it should not be discouraged, no matter how grubby and worn it may look. It is a healthy sign that your child has a comfort object because it shows that they are learning how to cope with their independence.
Approximately half of all babies and toddlers have a comforter, and most can pick their own object between the ages of 6 and 12 months, when their comforter needs are greatest.
Most babies like soft items with a familiar smell, such as pillowcases, toys, and even their mother’s pajamas! It is not necessary to encourage your child to choose something of their own accord, but if your child has trouble sleeping, it may well be worth a try.
Some parents worry that leaving a comfort object in the cot could be dangerous. Children should definitely not be left unattended with anything with a ribbon or cord on it or any toy with parts that could be chewed or sucked off and choke a child [a teddy’s eyes or nose for example.] It has also been recommended that the object should be removed from the cot when the baby is asleep.
In addition, you are concerned that your child will lose the comforter, which can cause problems. For a child, losing a comforter or leaving it behind somewhere can be extremely upsetting. For this reason, if you notice that your child is forming an attachment to a particular object, you should try and get hold of another identical one. Alternate their use so that they wear equally and so that one can be washed while the other is being used.
And don’t worry if your child wants to keep his or her comforter into older childhood and beyond. In many university dorm rooms, you will find a much-loved blanky on the bed of the owner!
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The Gro Company, g., 2021. Why it is no bad thing if your child needs a comfort object to get off to sleep at night.. [online] The Gro Company. Available at: <https://gro.co.uk/sleepclub/why-it-is-no-bad-thing-if-your-child-needs-a-comfort-object-to-get-off-to-s/> [Accessed 5 October 2021].