Does your child have a special comfort object or lovey?

Today a mom asked me if her child should have a comfort object or if that would be a sign that her child was insecure.

Most of us have seen a toddler carrying a worn blanket or very loved and tattered stuffed animal. My one daughter carried a life-size doll with her whenever we went shopping, visiting or traveling. A special blanket or stuffed animal can provide comfort, courage and confidence to our growing child.

 Wikipedia,  describes a comfort item as: A comfort object, transitional object, or security blanket is an item used to provide psychological comfort, especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children. Among toddlers, comfort objects may take the form of a blanket, a stuffed animal, or a favorite toy, and may be referred to by English-speaking toddlers as blankey and lovey.[1]

IMG_1342For a small baby we provide emotional support for our child. That newborn baby is dependent on us for all of their physical and emotional needs. As the child grows they gain more and more independence and ability to handle some of those needs themself. They learn to sit without our assistance. They learn to crawl and then to walk alone, which opens the world to them.That is a sign of a healthy growing child. Everything is brand new as they explore their world and they do not know what surprises, either good or scary they will find.

On your child’s path from dependence to independence there will be many bumps and bruises along the way. A transitional or comfort object can give your child the emotional support needed to gain enough courage to keep exploring and growing. You, the parent, cannot always be present to provide that support your child needs. Their special stuffed animal or blanket can be a substitute for you.

A child who does not have a comfort object is limited, needing to stay close to the parent at all times for that support. A comfort object or lovey might provide your child the courage to face a new situation on the playground or going to pre-school without you. The lovey helps your child build their own coping skills and your child will set that lovey aside as they gain confidence in their own ability. It helps them transition from dependence to more independence.

When do children attach to a special comfort item or lovey?
Most children begin to develop an attachment to an object around their first birthday. After the first birthday is also the time it becomes safe to allow a stuffed animal or favorite blanket in their bed.

How do you encourage an attachment to some object?                                                                      Some children are going to choose their own favorite object. If you have something you would like your child to connect with, there are some ways to promote that attachment. Every time you go to comfort your child, such as when they fall or stub their toe, bring that stuffed animal or blanket up next to the child’s face as you comfort them. Whenever you sit and rock your child or read a book together, bring the blanket or the stuffed animal up close to the child’s face to make it a part of that cosy situation. Use that comfort item or lovey at bedtime. Your child can use that favorite blanket or stuffed animal to get to sleep at bedtime or if the child wakes up during the night.

Many children will lose interest in their comfort item as they get older but some keep a bedtime attachment to an object for a very long time.

  • If your child has a transitional or comfort object here are some tips:
    1. If possible stock up on a “spare” lovey. That can be very helpful if the favorite animal or blanket was left at Grandma’s house or your favorite restaurant.
    2. As your child get older, limit the use of their comfort object to bedtime or in a stressful situation such as an injury.
    3. Never laugh at your child for having a favorite blanket or stuffed animal and do not try to “accidently lose” their special item.
    4. Allow your child to decide when he/she is ready to stop using their “lovey”.

Let me help you with any sleep questions:

Helping Babies and Toddlers Sleep


Arlene Fryling

Arlene is a registered nurse and certified sleep consultant for children 0-5 years. She has cared for premature, sick, and many healthy babies. For over 15 years she has taught expectant parents how to care for their newborns through classes teaching basic baby care, infant massage classes, and moderating support groups for new moms as they deal with parenting issues.

Infant Tummy Massage to Relieve Gas

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Alix Kron
Alix Kron
4 months ago
We cannot say enough positive things about our experience working with Arlene!! We were desperate for sleep, going almost 5.5 months with frequent wake ups, nursing back to sleep, nonstop crying during the day, screaming in the car and becoming more and more hopeless as time went on without having success … Arlene changed all of that within no time. She listened to exactly what was going on for us, developed a sleep plan specific to our daughter’s needs/our goals and was so supportive and answered all of our questions along the way. It was very easy to follow the plan that she developed and it included naps and weaning off of night feedings. We saw a difference in our daughter almost immediately! Arlene has absolutely transformed our lives and given us the ability to enjoy each other and feel so much better getting the sleep we all want and NEED! Our daughter is now sleeping 11-12 hours per night, eating only once overnight as opposed to every 1-2 hours, is on a great nap schedule and is so much happier!!! It’s the best money we’ve spent.
Adrienne G.
Adrienne G.
2 years ago
We worked with Arlene to sleep train our 22 month old son who had been bed sharing and nursing to sleep. She helped us develop a sleep plan that was specific to our son's needs. It addressed both his nighttime sleep and his naps. It really took the guess work out of the endeavor, because as a parent, even if you read all the sleep books, there are many different opinions and it is hard to know what is right. Arlene was attentive, flexible and available to answer all of our questions and concerns. I would highly recommend working with her! Our son now sleeps 11-12 hours a night and put himself to sleep on his own. Sleep training him has been a game changer for me (I sleep now too!) and for him. He seems well rested and his development seems to be progressing faster now too. His language skills are flourishing since he is getting better rest.
Amanda C
Amanda C
4 years ago
We just wrapped up our second time working with Arlene, and had another great experience! Arlene helped us sleep train our first baby a few years ago when she was 4 months old at the time. She was a terrible sleeper, waking up once every hour and needing to be rocked to sleep for what felt like hours and hours each day. I was a stressed, exhausted, and worried first time mom, and I was drawn to Arlene’s calm and experienced approach. She gave us an option for a gentler strategy that worked for us at the time, and was detailed and responsive in her sleep plan and attentiveness. Our daughter just turned 2.5 years old and is still a great sleeper. So once our second baby turned 4 months recently, we did not hesitate to work with Arlene again. We now have two rockstar sleepers in our household, thanks to Arlene! It means the world to us that she was there to help guide us, instill confidence, and most importantly, help teach our children such a valuable skill they will undoubtedly benefit from for the rest of their lives.
Begoña Cirera
Begoña Cirera
2 years ago
Arlene helped me first with my first son who was 2.5 year old when I hired her. He slept with me during breastfeeding. He never wanted to sleep in his crib. I was due with my second, and I needed better rest, and had no clue how to get him to sleep away from my bed. I even had to sleep w him during naps, or he wouldn’t sleep. I had to walk him for hours to fall asleep every night. It was awful. Two weeks after Arlene helped us create a program for him, he was done!!! He was sleeping in his own room, all night (12+ hours) and he was SO HAPPY during the day. We learned so much, and all made so much sense. After trying methods and books, nothing worked. My son is almost 6, and he falls asleep at 7:30pm every evening, until 7:00am. As a parent, you know how precious those hours are. With my second one, I didn’t make the mistake of waiting until he was two to train him to sleep. By 3 months, we slowly started, with Arlene’s help. I never had to walk him or be there for him to fall asleep. He’s now 3, and he is a great sleeper, much better than his big brother ever was, still takes 90-min naps, and sleeps 11 hours a night. Every penny I spent to hire Arlene’s expertise is worth it. My only regret was not to look for her sooner. Lifesaver, 100%.
Abbey Stidam
Abbey Stidam
6 years ago
Arlene Fryling at Gentle Touch Sleep Time helped our son sleep, which helped us sleep! We were having trouble transitioning our son (4 months at the time) from his rock-n-play to the crib and our amazing sleeper since birth was all of a sudden not sleeping very much. Arlene talked with us about what was going on with his sleep and why the change in his sleep pattern. She answered all our questions and calmed our worries and frustrations. She came up with a sleep plan that worked for our family. She guided us every step of the way. He is now an amazing sleeper again! He is 18 months old and sleeps 12 hours at night and takes a 1 1/2 - 2 hour nap. He loves to sleep and never fights sleeping. I am so thankful we had Arlene Fryling help us and we were able to teach our son to sleep.