July 22, 2017

Why Your Baby Needs a Security Blanket

Remember Linus? He’s the Peanuts character with the security blanket, Lucy’s long-suffering thumb-sucking little brother. He gets teased as much about his blanket as he does for his belief in the Great Pumpkin, but Linus really couldn’t care less. He’s also the wisest kid on the block. If you think fostering your baby’s affection for a transitional object might not be a good idea, you may want to think again.

At around three months, babies start to figure out that they and their primary caregiver are
two separate people. Somewhere between four and eight months, this monumental realization leads to a growing anxiety when a parent isn’t around. This seems to peak at bedtime, when babies are naturally fearful and looking for comfort.

Babies with security blankets are usually the first to sleep through the night because they
develop the ability to self-soothe. The transitional object is often a soft blanket but can be
almost anything with which your baby has formed an attachment. It triggers memories of
parental comforting, and is often held close to the nose or mouth because it smells like mom or dad.

Babies with security blankets are usually the first to sleep through the night because they develop the ability to self-soothe.

You can create a security blanket for your baby by putting various soft objects in her crib and observing which she seems attracted to. If your child has no particular preference, wear a small blanket against your skin for a couple of days, and then place it in your baby’s fist when you put her down for a nap. Carry it around for a few days whenever you’re nursing, feeding or cuddling your baby. He will begin to associate the smell and texture of the blanket with comfort and safety. Over time, the blanket will be enough to soothe your baby when you’re not around and reduce the noisy insistence that you pay him a visit at 2:00 in the morning.

Make sure that whatever your baby bonds with is safe, washable and easily replaced. If you
can’t find two blankets exactly the same, cut one in two and finish the edges with a satin
binding that all babies love to rub against their cheeks. Use both interchangeably so that they continue to wear at the same rate and smell identical. Babies are very quick to spot an imposter.

Start washing the blanket regularly, right from the start. Get your baby used to the fact that
Occasionally, your blankie is going to smell a little different. Some parents forbid the blanket from leaving the house in order to avoid losing it, while others allow it to come along for things like visits to the doctor or similar potentially stressful
encounters. Either way, make sure you have a spare to use at bedtime if the original gets

You can start limiting the use of a security blanket to bedtime-only as your child gets older, but there’s no mental or physical harm in having your child attached to a particular object. They tend to give up carrying their blanket around on their own as they become more confident and distracted by all the other things going on in their expanding universe.

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