Comfort Items

Blankies, teddy bears, pacifiers — almost all kids have an inanimate object that they don't just love but actually need. It's important not to discourage their use or to make fun of a child for needing a security object. Children use all types of objects as security blankets. Little boys often want to carry a small toy or action figure with them. Little girls might want a doll. You should try to get a second version of this object in case something happens to the first.

Source of Security

These objects do a job and play an important role in a child's development. Their use should be not only respected but appreciated as well. The chosen object gives children a sense of strength and familiarity, feelings that are not naturally available to a child at every moment and that all of us need to get through each day. Children need time to develop the inner strength and security that well-adjusted adults have as a matter of course. Before they are able to do that, they use their comfort item as its source.

Essential

In the Peanuts comic strip, Linus takes a lot of heat for sucking his thumb and carrying his security blanket around. However, Linus is also one of the wisest Peanuts characters. This is a very clear illustration of the fact that the need for a blankie does not make a child a baby.

Most children pick their own security object and are pretty quiet about it, carrying it around from room to room or seeking it out when they are tired or unhappy. Once you notice what the object is, you should give it the same respect your child does. He will appreciate this and feel more comfortable with its use. Your child will probably want to hold his blankie when he sleeps, when he is trying to relax (such as sitting on the couch or listening to a story), or when he's upset. Always have it on hand and give it to your child before bed so that he feels safe.

As they get older, children will sometimes endow these special objects with magic powers. A child might think his blanket can hear him when he talks or that he is protected if he puts it around his shoulders. It is not unusual for a child to continue carrying his object of affection for years, to the age of five or six.

Safety Concerns

Most security objects are safe for a one-year-old to bring to bed and sleep with. The exception to this rule is a pacifier:Your child should not suck on one while he sleeps. At the age of one, your child can safely sleep with a blankie or stuffed animal in his bed.

If he brings a blankie with him to bed, make sure after he has fallen asleep that the blankie is not too close to his face or near his head. If he has a stuffed animal, make sure it's somewhere up on the bed and not on the floor (so he can find it if he needs it during the night), but that it, too, isn't too close to his face.

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