Benefits of a Transitional Object
What is a transitional object and why does it help?
A transitional object, otherwise known as a comforter, blankie or lovey is an item used to provide psychological comfort for babies and toddlers especially in unusual or unique situations, or at bedtime for small children.
Babies from six months onwards experience some degree of separation anxiety as part of their normal development. It is thought that it is a result of increased mobility and independence and a developing realisation that they are physically separate from their primary carer. In some children this can be quick phase, while in others (like mine) it can continue well through-out their toddlerhood. Any mum who has experienced their little one's anguish at being left with someone while you attend a doctors appointment know how intense these periods of separation anxiety can be. Introducing a transitional object is one way parents can help their little one feel safe and secure during these moments.
Transitional objects or comforters , similar to lullabies, can quickly help build positive bed and sleep associations which can make going to to bed and resettling during the night easier for your little one. Outside the house they can really help too - providing a sense of security and comfort during situations where they may experience a higher level of anxiety such as unfamiliar environments, child care or going to the doctors. Transitional objects can be introduced at any stage, even from very young but it is important to always consider SID and safe sleeping guidelines. They can be almost anything but most often take the form of soft toys or blankies.
As for my personal experience with comforters - my daughter's first love was her dummy. She has had it from the very start and loved it with an insane intensity from day one. Her second love was 'Fawny' and third love is her teddy. These tools have all had different moments in the spotlight for her but there is no doubt that they were incredibly comforting for her during her transition to 2 days a week childcare at three years old after being with me every day prior to that. My son, on the other hand, had never really 'loved' anything (except for his mummy) or made a close bond with any inanimate object. But as we were preparing to have him start childcare we made the conscious decision to introduce something that I hope will help him during this period. It was not an instant bond but within a few days he took to using 'Foxy' and with his dummy securely attached to it he then went on to forge an incredibly strong and secure bond that took him through childcare, kinder and even prep at school.
TIPS FOR INTRODUCING A COMFORTER / LOVEY / BLANKIE
My daughter had many objects of desire so her choices for a transitional object came naturally and easily for her. For my son however it has been a deliberate decision to encourage him to bond and therefore needed some tips up our sleeve to make it stick.
1. Wear the comforter down your top for as long as you can stand. Not 30 minutes, hours... Take it to gym, walk the dog, really get your smell all over it. Babies have an amazing sense of smell and even just doing this can bring a sense of comfort to babes when they need it.
2. Attach a dummy/pacifier to it. If your baby likes their dummy then attach one to the comforter. Riff & Raff have a special tag for this purpose but if using something else you can just use a regular dummy clip. This will immediately increase the amount of contact your little one is having with the comforter and also reduce the number of lost dummies - win / win!
3. Give it personality and use it regular nap and bedtime routines. Play peek a boo with it, sing songs to it and make it fun. But also incorporate it into nap and bed time routines by wishing it goodnight, snuggles and if a Riff Raff & Co toy turning on the lullaby. Persistence is the key. If you are choosing to use a Riff Raff sleep toy as your chosen comforter you can see more about our suggested introduction tips here.
4. Once a comforter sticks - buy more than one or make sure it is easily available. It will get lost and it will get dirty. A unique find at Savers might look great but it could prove quite fear inducing if it goes missing at the Zoo. Having two of them can reduce stress and negotiations when it comes to washing and drying of the toy.
IMPORTANT: FOR THE INTRODUCTION FOR BABES UNDER 7 MONTHS:
It is really important that SIDS safe sleeping guidelines are followed and no soft toys should in the cot for your baby. Our cuties have been designed with a strap which can be used to secure the toy to either the inside or the outside of the cot to prevent little ones from pulling the toy over their face. We recommend that this strap is always used with babies under the age of 7 months old unless being directly supervised. The recommendation in the USA is 12 months of age. The benefits from their comforter will not be diminished as babies under the age of 7 months will gain a lot of benefit from the audial and visual comfort when not able to feel the comforter. xx
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