Is it time to introduce a lovey to your little one?
These are an easy (and fun!) way to help your toddler self-soothe during sleep periods.
Today, I’m giving you the inside scoop on these fantastic sleep tools, including what to look for and how to introduce one to your child.
But first things first: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby’s crib remain empty until he or she is one year of age, so don’t introduce a stuffed toy or blanket for sleep periods until your child’s first birthday.
Now, let’s dive in–starting with how to choose a lovey!
How to Choose a Lovey
A lovey is any object your child forms an attachment to that also helps him feel comforted and soothed. Typically, these are stuffed animals, small blankets, or a combination of the two, such as this.
What to look for
When choosing one, make sure it’s:
- Durable – It will likely be a part of your child’s life for a long time. You can buy backups, but more than likely your child will prefer the OG.
- Small – You don’t want to lug a life-size Teddy bear everywhere you go. Trust me on this.
- Noiseless – Your babe might think the squeaks and crinkles are fun, but you won’t be smiling when it wakes him up at 2 a.m.
Make sure it works for your child
Before purchasing, observe your child’s self-soothing habits. For example, before she was sleep trained, my youngest loved to play with my fingers while I fed her to sleep.
Knowing this is how she self-soothed, I chose a stuffed bunny with long, soft ears to be her lovey.
If your child enjoys playing with tags, get a lovey with a tag. Or if your child finds comfort in rubbing a blanket on her face, choose a small, soft blanket.
How to introduce a lovey
Now that you’ve picked one for your child, now it’s time to make the big introduction!
Make the lovey smell like you
According to this Babycenter article, smells can have a big effect on how our kids feel. In fact, children as old as 4 prefer their mother’s scent to anyone else’s!
To help your child bond with his new lovey, try sleeping with it or wearing it under your shirt for a bit. Your scent will rub off on the lovey, making it extra special to your little one.
Don’t just use the lovey at sleep times
Don’t save the lovey for sleep! Let your child play with the lovey during the day. Play peek-a-boo, tickle them with it, and when feeding (either with a bottle or nursing) let them snuggle with it.
Long story short: Incorporate it into your daily routine, not just at sleep times!
You can pick the softest, cutest lovey around, but there’s a good chance your little one will become attached to something unexpected.
I once worked with a family whose baby chose a mitten, and another whose little one chose his brother’s power ranger t-shirt over a stuffed animal!
My point? Regardless of the object, if it’s soothing and safe, go for it!
Introducing your little one to a lovey is a fun way to help them self-soothe, but be sure to do it after he’s turned a year old, and choose a lovey that is durable, small, and doesn’t make noise.
When picking a lovey, keep your child’s self-soothing habits in mind, and be sure to incorporate it into your daily routine–not just at night.
Finally, self-soothing is key to restorative, healthy sleep.