Most of us have a hard time remembering our infancy, but many can still recall that one special blanket or stuffed animal that seemed to hold all the answers in the universe during those early years of diapers, new teeth, and pureed prunes. This is what the baby community now calls a “comfort object.”
Around the age of 9 months, Baby may start to attach themselves to a common household object. It can be as innocuous as a teddy bear or mystifying as a plastic hairbrush.
But whatever shape a security object takes, the bottom line is clear: this object brings Baby comfort and certainty. Think of it as an inanimate substitute for Baby’s primary caregiver!
Why does my baby need a comfort object?
As Baby develops intellectually, she will quickly begin to grasp her individuality as a person. This is a big, radical thought for any baby to understand, and when it becomes overwhelming, Baby will want to feel reassured. Since one of the things she is realizing is that you’re not going to be available 24/7 for a cuddle session, a comfort object can offer Baby the same protective warmth.
What’s the lifespan of a comfort object?
Once Baby chooses her first comfort object, there’s no way to know exactly how long the relationship will last. On average, children tend to part with their comfort objects somewhere between 2 and 5 years, either out of gradual disinterest or by accident. The one thing you can count on if if Baby loses it by accident, though, is some definite, a probably dramatic, sadness.
How can I help my baby move on?
Dealing with losing a comfort object to misplacement or physical deterioration can feel like mourning a buddy. One of the best ways to help Baby kick the blues is to keep the bond between baby and object from becoming too intense. One way you can achieve this early on is to set limits on when and where she can play with her comfort object. This is best done when her object is new, before a deeper connection develops. Additionally, washing the object regularly will not only keep it hygienic but will also prevent Baby from becoming too attached to the object’s scent. Once the object is lost, you can help Baby move on by telling a story about where it went, or by encouraging her to attach to a different object.
The bottom line
Having a comfort object is completely normal, and healthy – and it’s not just babies who have these either! While you might feel incomplete without your phone, favorite pair of sunglasses, or something else by your side, Baby can feel incomplete without her teddy bear – it’s all about comfort.