Attachment is a psychological phenomenon, so amazingly, with time your little one is able to transfer some of their feelings of attachment to an inanimate object. This is why comforters can help your little one so much in their early years.
Comforters (sometimes referred to as transitional objects) come in very many shapes and forms, from a cuddly toy, to a blanket or muslin, or even an item of clothing belonging to Mummy or Daddy. They are a small soft object that you can easily take with you anywhere you go.
Babies can get fussy and upset around bedtime, milestone developments and periods of change. Introducing a comforter can help to soothe and support your baby through these times and serve as a best friend! They can also support a baby who is stressed or faced with a change in their normal routine (immunisations, travelling, long car or plane journeys, settling at a new nursery).
It’s never too early to introduce a comforter to a baby, even before your little one can take hold of the object themselves you can position it next to them so it becomes familiar to them.
It’s important not to let your little one sleep with their comfort object until they are 6 months old though, and even then you should remove it from the cot once they are asleep.
Your baby’s comforter should be made of light, breathable fabric. Natural, non-toxic and skin-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton or bamboo are great choices, these are safer for baby and will naturally absorb your scent. Most importantly it should be washable and something easily replaceable (always make sure you have spares!)
Even though these comforters are likely to get dirty at times, because they help your little one feel safe, calm and happy, you shouldn’t discourage them, no matter how worn and grubby they look. They are actually a sign that your child is developing skills to help them cope with their independence.
At around 6 months old your little one will go through an important cognitive developmental milestone – they will realise that they are not attached to you and that you could at any moment walk away from them. This really is the beginning of your child’s growing independence, confidence and sense of identity. This important milestone understandably comes with potential separation anxiety and upset. Most babies and toddlers will choose their own comfort object at around this time. If your child doesn’t choose something themselves, there’s no need to encourage it, but a comfort object may be worth a try if they don’t sleep well.
The key with this is, of course, consistency. Repeatedly introducing the object at sleep times helps form a pattern of behaviour and a new ‘sleep association.’ So when your little one sees the comforter they know that it is time for calm and sleep. Then, in theory, if your little one is attached to a baby comforter, they are more likely to be able to soothe themselves back to sleep independently, using their comforter when they wake between sleep cycles in the night.
As children get older some parents worry about their child’s dependence on their comforter. There is nothing to worry about, children tend to naturally reduce their dependence on their comforter as they get older and more independent.
As long as their comforter isn’t stopping them from leading a happy and healthy life then please don’t worry. Nurseries and schools are very sensitive to the potential need to bring in a comforter during settling in periods. Using their comforter when you are not there is a good way to practice self-regulation, and to cope with any fears or anxieties about you not being with them. In time, their comforter can be left on their peg, or even in the car or at home, ready and waiting for them on their return.
If you are looking for a comforter for your little one or to give as a gift then we have some lovely ones available in our gift sets. Most come with a lovely book too and of course some of our Non-slip Stay on Socks. You can check them out here.
Have a wonderful day