If your toddler insists on napping with the same lovey every day, or can only fall asleep at night cuddling her favorite green blankie, she is using a transitional object. That worn out teddy bear that gets dragged through parks, puddles and the grocery
store qualifies as one too.
“A transitional object serves as a comfort object for a toddler or an infant,” says Jennifer Gibson, a licensed clinical psychologist in Chicago. “It represents the same comfort that they feel when they are with their parents or caregiver and helps the
child cope with separation anxiety.”
Of course, separation anxiety is a normal developmental process for little ones with healthy attachments. That’s why the use of a transitional object is totally normal too, so there’s no need to stress or try to stop your little love from using one.
Here are other things you should know about transitional objects.
You can introduce a transitional object
Some babies and toddlers will naturally gravitate toward an object and others won’t. If you think your little one could benefit from a transitional object, you can simply encourage her to use one. Start by offering different items to bring along on outings
so that you can discover what is most appealing to your child. Once you find an object your little one likes, taking it everywhere you go can help transition the item into a comfort object that represents you.
When to make the introduction
You can introduce a comfort object as early as six months old. An ideal time is before your little one will experience stress or anxiety. If there is a move, a new caregiver or an evening away from you in the near future, having an established transitional
object that your child can snuggle and hold will help make getting through separation anxiety easier for your baby or toddler.
DIY done right
Making your own custom transitional object is a great option. Though it may be tempting to stitch together that adorable lovey you saw online, the best place to start is with your little one’s preferences in mind. You can begin by exploring colors and
textures with your child. Once you understand what her favorite colors and textures are, you can shop a fabric or craft store together. Short on time? Just print out pics of all those cute loveys you’ve bookmarked and let your toddler choose which one
she likes best.
How to let go of a lovey
“The start of school can provide a natural break from a transitional object if your child hasn’t already given it up on her own,” advises Gibson. When preschool hits, your little one may be able to keep her lovey in a cubby, but that might not be the
case in kindergarten. Keep the process of saying goodbye low key and allow your child to keep the lovey in her bedroom, the car or her backpack. As your child grows and develops, she will naturally transition to letting her sweet lovey go.
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