Is it okay for your baby to have a lovey? Short answer: it’s most definitely okay! A lovey is an object that provides comfort to your baby or toddler. One worry of parents is that the toddler might become too reliant on a lovey, leading to an unhealthy dependence. Because of this, some parents possibly refuse to offer or allow their toddler to have a lovey. We definitely had this concern when Remy started attaching himself to a blue teddy bear we call Martin (Remy and Martin, get it? 😉 ). However, upon further research, my husband and I uncovered some surprising information about the psychology behind loveys and how they are a normal (and encouraged) part of childhood development. Are you ready to hear these surprising facts? Read on!
1. A Lovey is Actually an Extension of You
A lovey is something that looks, smells, and feels familiar. Babies and toddlers take comfort in this item because it is a reminder of home and their parents and it provides the feeling of security that all of these things provide. This lovey is not meant to replace you, but become something portable that your baby can carry in situations when you are not there.
2. Thus, Loveys are a Positive Thing
Loveys are also known as transitional objects or comfort objects. Because your toddler can take their lovey almost everywhere, it will help them adapt to the brand new world outside the comfort of home and the arms of their parents. This helps them transition into this unknown world. This is the beginning of your little one learning to take care of themselves and have some control over their environment! Furthermore, the lovey provides the confidence needed for this transition. It’s almost as if you were there encouraging them, “You can do it!” while they explore new things. This is your baby’s first attempt at forming a relationship with other things besides mom and dad.
3. It’s Also a Positive Thing for YOU
The introduction of a lovey allows your baby or toddler develop the all-important skills of self-soothing independently without the need of having you around. This is great for the parents as it decreases the dependence on you to fall asleep or calm themselves! Relish in this newfound independence!
PLEASE NOTE: Experts do not recommend anything in the crib, even a lovey, until 12 months of age due to the risk of SIDS.
4. Denying Access to a Lovey Can Have a Negative Impact
When your toddler becomes attached to a lovey, a parent may become concerned that they are relying too much on this object and that it’s not good for them. I mean, Remy could NOT sleep without his Martin in his arms for a while. He would throw tantrums and scream if he could not see Martin during the daytime hours. I was worried that this was becoming a bad habit.
However, a lovey speaks volumes on how your toddler will interact with and maintain relationships with other people. You can see how your toddler cares for the lovey, hugging it, feeding it, maybe sometimes bathing it. This is the foundation for the emotional development of your child.
Denying the lovey or refusing access to the lovey may lead to attachment difficulties as they grow older. Your child may not be able to express their feelings or may even suppress their feelings if they don’t have the coping mechanism that they actually chose themselves – their lovey.
Instead of declining the use of a lovey, possibly set rules of when a lovey can make its appearance. For example, allow the use of the comfort object only in the car or at bedtime. This will help limit the possibility of the love getting lost or picking up more germs.
5. Attachment to a lovey starts around 8-12 months of age and peaks around 18-24 months
This is when separation anxiety starts to hit. Your toddler is becoming more aware of the world around them and starting to realize that it’s not just mom and dad in their own little bubble. Experts estimate that around 50% of children become attached to some sort of transitional object. You can start offering your child a lovey and see if they accept it or sometimes they will pick it out on their own.
For Remy, he actually picked out his own when he was 8 months old. We were browsing the liquidation sale at Toys R’ Us and there was an entire wall of Martins! Blue ones, pink ones, and white ones galore! Remy reached up and grab a beloved blue one and has been attached to it ever since.
TIP: Once your toddler has become attached to a lovey, if you can, buy multiple! Cycle through them regularly when you wash them so they “age” the same in terms of wear and tear
6. Not All Loveys are the Same
There’s no rhyme or reason of why your toddler chose the particular comfort object. It can be a teddy bear, a blanket, a pacifier, a dishtowel, toy cars, etc. Your toddler has picked the “Chosen One” for a reason. There is nothing that can replace, not even a lookalike.
We experienced this first hand with Remy and it did not go over so well. Once Remy was attached to Martin, my mother-in-law saw a wannabe at a store and got it as a present. It was the same color and everything! Remy looked at the wannabe, then at Martin in his arms, then flung the fake one as far as he could (which is not very far for a one-year-old). To this day, the wannabe Martin sits in the corner with the other lesser loved stuffed animals.
7. Not all Babies Become Attached to a Lovey
If you offer a lovey and your toddler doesn’t seem interested, don’t fret! This just means that your toddler is a superstar at comforting themselves. They may use other methods for self-soothing, such as twirling their hair or sucking their thumb.
8. Most Toddlers Will Outgrow Their Loveys
If your toddler does become attached to a lovey, just take comfort in knowing that they will eventually outgrow their beloved item. Most of the time, your toddler will give up their lovey due to social pressure. They become aware that their friends are not carrying a stuffed animal around and they are more likely to just leave their lovey at home. However, your little may not truly outgrow their lovey as the lovey may sit on a shelf in their room as they grow up or even travel with them to their college dorm. 🙂
Overall, loveys are a normal part of childhood development and are actually a very positive thing! I’m very happy that Remy has a lovey (and that we have multiple)! Does your little one have a lovey? Which fact about loveys surprised you the most?