Friday, February 20, 2009

Toddlers and Comfort Objects

Did You Know? About 60% of toddlers use comfort or security objects – most choose an item with silky and nubby textures to provide sensory satisfaction. Child development experts agree that a comfort object is a great asset for children and parents. Attachment to a “lovie”, usually beginning around 8-12 months, represents a big leap in intellectual and emotional development for a child - they are learning to understand symbols and to "invent" something of their own – the lovie becomes a symbol of love and comfort that is tangible. Children who have learned to use lovies can find comfort anywhere and can take control of their own comfort."A lovie has real emotional importance to a child. Like a true friend, a lovie is familiar, accepting, and faithful. It is the guarantee of safety and security; it promises a parent’s return.”

As mentioned above, toddlers enjoy the tactile stimulation of a soft, fuzzy, or nubby items like stuffed animals, blankets, or even our toddler pillows, while other toddlers may choose something like a pacifier. Whatever the choice, it is not uncommon for toddlers to give their comfort objects names and talk to them, carry them around everywhere - much like a true friend. It can help them work through problems or challenges in their everyday life and have unconditional acceptance. And as any parent with a child attached to a lovie will understand, when that lovie is lost, put in the wash, or left behind, it's like losing one's true friend and cannot be replaced.

As parents, one challenge is attempting to anticipate which animal, blanket or other object will be "the one" and we all rush out to buy duplicates just in case it is every left behind or lost. At one point, my youngest son was starting to develop an attachment to a particular green stuffed animal so I ran out and bought a handful (as well as a few in different colors - thank goodness they were inexpensive). But that phase didn't last long, and both of my boys eventually settled on blankets as lovies (which is great considering my business!). So I created the Bips - a smaller version of a favorite blanket that is easier to pack, carry, wash, etc. Plus that single satin corner to make the blanket feel special and provide that spot of interest to touch and rub. I've heard from many parents with children that are attached to our blankets, bips, or toddler pillows. I've also heard stories about special lovies getting damaged, lost, or just plain worn out. In the best cases, we still have fabric available (or can find it somewhere else) and can try to replace that item. In other cases, we have successfully helped parents replace the item with a similar theme or color fabric - yes, sometimes it does work!

Once toddlers are growing up into preschoolers and school aged children, the question becomes what level of attachment is appropriate and how do you handle it? If you have any fun stories to share about your toddler and lovies, post them here. I'm curious to hear what objects, what age, and if your child is older now, when/how did they give them up?

1 comment:

  1. Ok I have a lot of comments on this,
    First is myself I had a baby pillow as my security object. My great grandmother made it when she was pregnant with my grandmother, you know back when babies were still allowed to have pillows. It was passed to my mom and then to me. My mom and grandma thought of it as functional but me, well it was my best friend. I took it every where with me and even had it in my backpack on my first day of school. After about six I slept with it but it stayed home. My mom fixed it so much it doesn’t look the same at all any more. She had to put new fabric around the outside because it kept loosing its stuffing and now its square when it was rectangle; oh yea and the stuffing inside fell apart and feels like soft jelly beans. As for when I finally stopped sleeping with it, well, I packed it away about three months after I was married; my son was about fifteen months at the time.
    Next is Du-Du. My friend bought this green Aurora baby floppy dog (from JC Penny) for him before he was born, and he took to it, and we now have seven of them. This is only because the friend the bought it works there and one night I called her franticly wanting to know where she had bought it because my son had lost it outside a local thrift store and we couldn’t find it. She bought all seven that the store had left in the clearance bin and drove them up when she got off work. My son calls his dog Du-Du and he still needs it all the time he takes it everywhere and sleeps with it. But what can I expect he’s only three.
    Finally Zey-Zey aka, my nightmare. Zey-Zey is a zebra by Koala Baby that my daughter was given when she was born. It was bought at the Babies 'R Us in Folsom, California. She loves it, but a few months back she got a stomach virus, and she threw up on it. I sent it through the wash, but it's still stained and is now falling apart due to being put in the washing machine so much in my attempts to clean it. She is only 15 months old and won't go anywhere or sleep without it. It turns out that it was discontinued before my daughter became attached to it. I have been looking for months, but Babies 'R Us has stopped selling them, and yes, I’m watching eBay and every ware else you could think of online. I have tracked it quite far, this is what I have: Zebra is item number 768445, a ten inch plush gray and white zebra. Style number 15343 made by Koala Baby, Manufactured by: Danu Hong Kong limited, the Danu Corporation. See I’ve been really busy. The Babies 'R Us 1-800 numbers says that it was discontinued in April of 2009. But when called the manufacturer out of California she said that a shipment was sent out to the U.S. in October of 2009. But she can’t tell me where. So I’m watching eBay and calling every store in the country one by one, and all I’m getting is, “Sorry, it's been discontinued. I can't help you," and that’s only how the half that will actually talk to me are answering me. Although one lady did tell me that if it is in the Clearance section of the store (which it most likely is), it won't even show up in the national inventory, and even if I do find one or more they won't inter store transfer or ship it, so I could end up driving across the country, I don’t want to, but if that’s what it takes I'll do it.