If you have been wondering if you should (and how to) introduce a lovey to your baby or toddler, I highly recommend it. It is a helpful tool and a wonderful support for your baby or toddler. Read more on the what, when, how and why of introducing a lovey.
What is a lovey
A lovey is an object that a child bonds with and it helps them feel comforted and secure. It is also called a security or transitional object.
There are lots of different objects that can become loveys for a child. Additionally there are some products created specifically as something that can be a lovey.
Loveys are typically a small soft object such as a small stuffed animal or blanket.
When to introduce a lovey
You can introduce a lovey to your child at any age. While babies younger than 12 months should not sleep with their lovey because safe sleep guidelines state NOTHING in bed with a baby younger than 12 months, you can still introduce the lovey outside of sleep. This can get you a jumpstart on the bond between child and lovey that will help support independent sleep as a toddler and older.
Helping your baby or toddler form a bond with the lovey
Helping your baby or toddler form a bond with their lovey is important so that they start to feel a sense of security and comfort from it. There are lots of ways to do this, including:
- Have a parent ‘wear’ the lovey in their shirt for a bit to help the lovey smell familiar and comforting
- Include the lovey in your child’s bedtime routine. Cuddling it with you and your child as you read books, nurse, feed, sing songs, or other special times of connection during bedtime.
- Give the lovey a name. This helps give it more meaning and an identity to attach on to. It can be as simple as “blankie” or “teddy.”
- Give your child the lovey to sleep with (for children 12 months and older).
- Talk to the lovey such as saying goodnight to it as you tuck your child in.
Because as parents we are our children’s biggest source of comfort and security, having our child associate their lovey with our love and support helps them bond with it and have it become a comfort and support in itself.
How can a lovey be helpful
Since loveys help create a sense of security and comfort, they are very helpful for independent sleep. A feeling of security is needed for healthy independent sleep because sleep is a vulnerable state. It requires us to detach from consciousness and those around us, which can be a challenging thing to do especially when our children are wired to stay connected with us.
Having a security object, especially one they associate with their parent(s), with a toddler the whole time they are sleeping (when they are 12 months and older) allows them to derive comfort and security the whole time, especially in between sleep cycles when they come to the surface of sleep.
Here are some of my favorite loveys for toddlers and babies
Cuddle + kind size small dolls
These are soft, cuddly, and the perfect size for little arms and hands. Plus they come with a name and story which can be helpful for bonding with it, especially for toddlers and preschoolers.
These are also soft and cute and are meant to be snuggled. Each animal is associated with a book and affirmations that support early emotional learning. A double win!
Loveys like this provide lots of space to hold on to and are cute and snuggly! You can get them in different materials with extra tabs and different materials for babies and toddlers to hold and caress too.
A lovey and independent sleep
While introducing a lovey it is not necessarily going to fix any sleep challenges you are experiencing with your baby or toddler. However, a lovey that your child is bonded to is a helpful tool when you are working with your toddler to learn independent sleep skills. An extra sense of security and comfort that they can derive from it is another piece that helps them through the discomfort of learning something new.
If you are struggling with your baby or toddler’s sleep and wondering if a lovey is going to resolve the sleep challenges, you can work to help your child start to form a bond with the lovey and then see how things go for a week.
If you aren’t seeing improvements or you’ve already tried this, I’m here to help. You can schedule a free discovery call with me so we can chat more about what is going on, your sleep goals and how I can help you reach those sleep goals.
To healthy and happy sleep,
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