When I start working with a family, one of the first things I do is recommend giving the child a “lovey”. A lovey is any item that your child can use during the night and naps to find comfort and soothe themself back to sleep. They can help for daycare, sleepovers and travel. The most common loveys are blankets, stuffed toys or articles of mom or dad’s clothing. A lovey is a very powerful tool for helping babies and children learn to sleep well through the night, but when and how you introduce one is a big factor in keeping your little one safe and making sure he or she attaches to the object.
How to choose a lovey
When giving a child a lovey, the most important thing is to make sure that the item is safe. Choose an item that it is not big enough to cover your baby’s face and obstruct breathing. Most babies like to put their lovey in their mouth to chew or suck on, so ensure that it doesn’t have things such as buttons or eyes that are sewn on and can be bitten or chewed off by your baby. Choose and item that is soft, small (but not so small that it can go into your baby’s mouth) and free of any loose bits that can come off.
When to introduce a lovey
In terms of age, guidelines generally say that loveys should not be given to a baby under 6 months old, but some say to wait until the baby is one year old. An important thing to think about when making this decision are whether or not your baby can lift his or her head to move away if the lovey was too close to his or her face. If your baby can stand, make sure the item isn’t big enough to be used as a tool to stand on, as this can pose a danger for falling out of the crib. If you have a child under 6 months, you can find a wearable lovey (such as onemade by Bitta Kidda), which is a lovey attached to a sleeper to ensure your baby’s safety. If you would like to introduce a lovey to your child, but are unsure of the safety, check with your doctor or paediatrician first.
How to introduce a lovey
To introduce the item to your little one, place it in the crib each time your baby goes to sleep. Try things like rubbing the lovey gently against your baby’s cheek or placing it in his or her hand. At first, it will seem as though it makes no difference or that your baby is not interested. However, if the item stays in the crib and/or is used as a tool to calm your baby when he or she is upset, soon it will become a positive sleep association. This means that your baby now sees the lovey as a tool to help fall asleep. This is the goal! When you see your little one cuddle the lovey, you will know that it is working. It may take a few weeks to really see the attachment, but if you leave the lovey in the crib, your baby will start to use it.
A helpful hint
Once you have found the right item, you may want to invest in a second one in case the first one gets lost or needs a wash. Try alternating the two items so that both are well worn in and have the odor of the crib. If your baby is going to daycare or having a sleepover, be sure to bring the lovey along.
A lovey is such a great tool for sleep, but keeping your baby safe is paramount. There are more and more safe and comfortable items available these days, so do your research so that your baby can sleep well and you can sleep worry-free.