It’s not uncommon for your little one to become attached to something other than you. In fact, many children attach themselves to items of comfort – blankets, stuffed animals or toys. At first, it can be cute to see how much your baby loves “blankie,” but the novelty of it all can wear off quickly when the toy becomes more important than you or other family members.
Why do children attach themselves to certain objects and is it healthy for them to become so attached? According to experts, it’s a very normal behavior for children to cling to a specific object and in fact, is often a sign of a strong bond between child and parent.
Although the object of affection can vary depending on the child, it’s common for a child to attach themselves to a baby blanket, stuffed animal or toy. The object of affection for many children can also be a thumb or pacifier.
Most children will begin to experience separation anxiety around 6 months of age as they gain mobility and awareness. A child’s understanding of freedom and independence is critical to his growth, but it can also leave him searching for something to ease his anxiety, which is why he may turn to a transitional object for comfort.
If your child has a comfort object, there’s no need to worry about how attached he becomes to that object. Your little one’s attachment to his blankie is not only healthy, it can help ease a stressful or anxious situation. For example, with blankie by his side, your baby will feel more at ease when going to the doctor or sitters.
What happens if your child’s object of affection goes missing? Don’t panic if bear-bear goes missing. A little preparation can turn an unpleasant situation into a non-situation. At the first signs of a toy becoming your child’s favorite, buy a replacement! To ensure the copycat toy looks, feels, and smells like the original, switch the replacement out with the original toy regularly.
If both toys go missing, take a deep breath and see how your child reacts to learning bear-bear is missing. Does he find comfort in another toy? Does he console himself without the toy? There’s no right or wrong answer…your child will let you know if an emergency trip to the store is needed.
If your little one can’t bear to be without his blankie and it’s causing issues, you may want to set limits as to when blankie can be a part of his life. Some experts suggest letting your little guy know when blankie can be played with and when it must be put away. For example, you may want to tell your baby blankie can be played with at bedtime, but not when you make a trip to the store. If your child resists, don’t force the issue.
Despite many parents’ fears, your child’s attachment to a toy is a stage that won’t last forever. By the time your child turns 4or 5, he should feel comfortable enough with a variety of social situations to give up teddy or blankie.