Your child is sleeping at a different place other than their own bedroom or perhaps they are away from their parents for a night at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house. They start to cry and are given their favorite “blankie”and rubbing it with their fingers, they settle right down and fall off to sleep.
Why does this special object, which is called a transitional object, is able to comfort a child in such a soothing way? Is it desirable for every little child to have one of these special objects? Is it possible for a child to help develop an attachment to one if he has no attachment developed in his short past? Are there any special concerns involved with transitional objects?
These security objects used by baby and toddlers, relieve tension and anxiety. Most often they are cuddly and soft things, a blanket, a stuffed toy, or fuzzy teddy bear — something that a baby can hold close to his mouth and nose. A child seems to need them most when they are going to visit a new place or are going to sleep, or when they are away from their parents. A Mother and her baby form a very close bond during the first few months of an infant’s life. It is thought that the infant experiences his mother as a part of them self, an extension of themself. At around the third month, a baby discovers that he and his mother are not one but actually two separate people due to the baby’s increased alertness. A baby, is dependent on his mother for every need, can become frightened when his mother leaves. When she is out of sight the baby doesn’t yet know that she still exists and will come back again. Baby is afraid she will not return. This fear begins to increase from the fourth month on. A transitional object reminds a baby of his mother because as she holds him and cares for him, he is holding the favorite object. The baby will begin to associate it with his mother as they cuddle it. It is extremely comforting to a baby when his mother is not available as it is a symbol of their Mother. It’s a good idea as well as important for a baby to have a security blanket or something similar for comfort. It will be of great help to the baby later on in a variety of situations.
If your baby is a newborn or very young then you are probably with the baby most of the time now, however there will come a time when you need to leave your baby and having a security blanket to bridge you will be very helpful. While you are away baby can cuddle with the their blanket and feel comforted because the blanket will remind them of you. When baby begins to favor an object, it will gradually begin to represent you because as you’re holding your baby, the blanket will also be with you. It will take on your special smell and begin to be associated with the way you feel to her.
You can begin to help baby become attached to the blanket or any other cuddly soft thing by beginning to notice the way that baby reacts around a certain blanket or toy. If you start to put some of baby’s special things in her crib or where she plays and hold one or two of them while you rock baby or care for them, perhaps stroke the blanket or hold it to baby’s cheek it will start the process. When the baby falls asleep then remove all of the other toys except the blanket or special soft toy, it will not take long before your baby will reach for the special blanket or toy. If you keep trying, even if it takes awhile, it will help her a lot later on. Be mindful not to have your baby choose an object that is part of your body like your hair, because he cannot use it for comfort when you are not around. After you find something the baby likes you should make sure you always have it around and make sure baby holds it while you might be nursing or feeding them and when baby goes to bed. Having two blankets the same is often useful in case you lose one or one is in the wash. If it is a smaller size it will be just right size for them to carry around with them as well.
Children use their security blankets at many different times, perhaps when there is a new baby sitter, when their mother is not available, or when they are cranky and irritable, getting new teeth, or hurt themselves in anyway. When a child needs it will vary however sleep time is universally the time baby will need it. Special objects can be very important to have because there will be times when you want your baby to be comforted and you are not available. Thumb sucking can be comforting but they need something for baby to be reminded of you. His special object – like the security blanket, will do that so even when you are not around he can feel comforted. Once a child forms an attachment to an object, it is very difficult to change the pattern. The attachment is very strong because it represents the bond with their mother. Be patient and allow baby to become attached and you will find this pays off for baby and for you.
Sometimes you may have doubts when your child gets older about the value of a transitional object. While having a transitional object is a definite advantage to children, it does bring with it some problems such as being careful not to loose it or remembering to carry it with you at all times. Sometimes the blanket or toy can look pretty awful and the child may insist you do not wash it. This may make the parent feel embarrassed and worry why their child needs a blanket. You may also question if your child will ever give the object up. This can be a problem if your child’s day care center or nursery school has a policy against these objects. We suggest to parents that they try to influence their school or center and explain that your child gets a great deal of comfort from the object. Hopefully, you will be able to influence the school if you explain how important it is to the child and that it will help the child nap easier and also help them to be calmer in general.
Gradually as your child gets older you can begin to help them spend less time with their object and they can have their blanket when they really need it and when it is important to them. You can say for example,” Now that you are a bit bigger we are going to leave your blanket at home except when we go to Gramma’s house or when you go to daycare.” Gradually cut it back a bit at a time instead of getting rid of it entirely. Some situations may trigger an increased need for a security blanket. For example, If there is a big change happening like moving to new house, starting daycare, or going on vacation, your child may need some extra comfort. Give your child the security blanket as long as they need it. Gradually your child will just give it up again and not need it. His increased needs might also suggest that you think of other ways to help his anxiety. What has worked well, is something called Special Time. A short period of time-10-15 minutes per day that is going to be set aside as ” special time” for you and your child to be together. It’s not a lot of time, just ten or fifteen minutes during the day. It can make a huge difference.
So as you can see a transitional object can be very important to your child. They can find comfort in them because they remind them of you. Although some children develop attachments to security objects on their own, some may need help from their parents. It may take a while for your baby to become attached to an object but hang in there as it can be very useful and helpful to your baby and in the end you as well.
We hope this info will help you in your daily life with your child.