“Lovey”. Have you heard that term before? We at The Baby Sleep Site® use the term lovey to mean any comfort object that a baby or toddler brings to bed, and which provides comfort and soothing. Some people also call them ‘comfort objects’, or ‘transitional objects’. While not every baby or toddler attaches to a lovey, many do – and as many parents have found (maybe you’re one of them!), loveys can be great, as they provide children with a physical object that they can use to comfort themselves.
Baby Lovey – What Is It?
Really, a lovey can be anything that’s safe for a baby or toddler to have at sleep time. Most loveys are what you’d think of as “normal” comfort items – blankets, or stuffed animals. However, in our work with parents over the years, we’ve heard of some very strange loveys indeed! We’ve had parents tell us their babies used the following items as loveys:
- throw pillows
- pacifiers (or soothers, or binkies, or dummies – depends on your name for it!
- board books
- washcloths and hand towels
- puzzle pieces (big ones)
And of course, there’s my personal favorite – a hair extension!!
Baby Lovey Safety
We are big believers in promoting safe sleep, and in sticking with the rules of creating a safe sleep space. For that reason, it’s key to remember that if your baby is under a year old, you should avoid putting any items in the crib that may be a SIDS risk. Not sure if a particular lovey is safe for your baby? We always recommend checking with your baby’s healthcare provider.
You’ll also need to think about choking hazards – no loveys that have small, detachable pieces, or even pieces that are sewn on but could potentially detach (think stuffed animals with small, plastic eyes sewn on).
Baby Lovey – Why Have One At All?
Some of you may be wondering why you even need to offer a lovely in the first place. Well, the truth is, some of you won’t – your babies will be able to self-soothe without any objects (maybe by sucking their thumbs, or stroking their faces or hair, etc.) Not every child needs a lovey.
But if your are sleep training, or working on helping your baby or toddler learn to self-soothe independently, without you in the room, a lovey can be a lifesaver. A lovey becomes a comfortable, familiar object that can serve to instantly soothe your baby or toddler. This is especially great when you’re out and about, or when you’re traveling – just bring the lovey along, and it’ll go a long way towards helping your baby sleep!
What’s more, a lovey can really help during sleep regressions – during those times, your baby is going through so many physical and developmental changes. And speaking of changes, loveys can really help your baby navigate any big life changes – like moving to a new house, the birth of a new sibling, etc.
Basically, a lovey is a positive sleep association that can help soothe and comfort your baby, and help them to relax and fall sleep. And who doesn’t want that? 😉
Baby Lovey – When & How Should You Introduce One?
As for when to introduce a lovey, the short answer is that it depends on your baby. Some babies will naturally take to having a lovey at a fairly young age, and will develop an attachment to some object fairly early one. If so – then your job is done!
For others, though, the process may look different. So when should you introduce a lovey? Well, don’t worry about offering a lovey during the newborn stage – your baby doesn’t yet have the ability to form an attachment to an object, so a lovey won’t matter at this point.
Beyond the newborn stage, the suggestions of when to introduce a lovely vary. Some pediatricians say it’s fine at 4 months, while other caution to wait until 9 months or even a year. Again – if you’re hesitant about when to introduce the lovey, and what kind of lovey to use, talk to your healthcare provider.
As for how exactly to introduce the lovey – there are a series of steps we typical recommend to consultation clients that are designed to help introduce the lovely gently, and to help ensure that baby accepts it and bonds with it. Want to read these steps? We lay them out in one of our members-only articles, The Baby Sleep Site®‘s 5 Step System To Introduce A Baby Lovey, in our The Baby Sleep Site® Members Area.
Baby Loveys We Love
When it comes to loveys, there are loads to choose from! Here are two of our favorites:
The Angel Dear Blankie: We LOVE these adorable baby loveys! Choose from 37 (yes, THIRTY-SEVEN) different colors and styles. The super-soft blankie is attached to a super-cute stuffed friend, making these an ideal lovey for babies.
This breathable stuffed elephant is soft and cuddly, but most-importantly, safe. It’s clean and allergy-friendly as well as washable. It is the perfect size for babies to hold and grab onto.
This organic security blanket from Gerber is so adorable.