As toddlers graduate from babies to more independent little humans, they sometimes deal with the big changes in how they relate to the world using what psychologists refer to as “transition objects.” About half of all toddlers care deeply about these kinds of items, while the other half don’t. There’s nothing wrong with not attaching to a transitional object, so there’s no need to fret if Baby hasn’t attached to one particular object. On the other hand, toddlers who do gravitate towards comfort objects can use them to help soothe themselves when they’re feeling stressed or upset.
There are many names different families use for these objects, but one of the most common names right now is a “lovey.” This object can be anything from a stuffed animal to a special pacifier, a special toy, a blanket, or a small pillow. A comfort object like this can be any specific object that Baby loves to carry around with them, and uses to soothe themself when they're upset.
Introducing a comfort object
Some parents of anxious or easily upset toddlers try to encourage their little ones to adopt comfort objects as a way of encouraging self-soothing techniques. At this point, Baby is a little old to be introducing a pacifier, which is a common first comfort object for babies. What they are exactly the right age for, though, is a blanket, since it’s only been a few months since safety recommendations recommend that it began to be safe for them to sleep with a blanket. Of course, stuffed animals also make great comfort objects, and you never know if Baby is going to be one of those children who latches onto a completely unexpected object as their very favorite thing.
There’s no need to try to force a comfort object on a toddler if it isn’t happening naturally, and it will be obvious if Baby has attached to a particular item. If you think they still might, though, it can be a good idea to place objects around them to choose from that are washable. You’ll be glad you did if they decide they want to hang onto one for six months. Parents also recommend trying to find multiple versions of a comfort object that are identical, which will prevent frustration when their favorite thing is being washed or gets accidentally lost.
- Perri Klass. “A Firm Grasp on Comfort.” New York Times. New York Times, March 11 2013. Retrieved June 8 2017. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/a-firm-grasp-on-comfort/?mcubz=0.
- Carole J. Litt. “Theories of Transitional Object Attachment: An Overview.” International Journal of Behavioral Development. September 1 1986. Retrieved June 8 2017. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/016502548600900308.