WHAT IS A TRANSITIONAL OBJECT AND WHY DOES IT HELP?
A transitional object, otherwise known as a comforter 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 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 an 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 a blankie.
TIPS FOR INTRODUCING A COMFORTER / TRANSITIONAL OBJECT
- 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.
- Attach a dummy to it. If your baby likes their dummy then attach one to the comforter. Bubba Hemp 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!
- 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 and snuggles. Persistence is the key.
- 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 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.