Whether it’s a lovey-a favorite stuffy or a cherished blanket, as Sleep Consultants and as moms we encourage a little sleep friend for nap and bedtime with our own children, as well as for the families that we work with. Some children will naturally introduce a lovey to their sleep routine on their own, while others can be encouraged to bond with a special buddy to provide bedtime comfort if needed.
Two out of my own four children had something they were attached to. My oldest had ‘Teddy’ who proudly sits in her closet and my youngest is still quite a fan of his ‘Night Nights’ and has anywhere from 3-6 in bed with him every night. 🙂 The goal is to only have one however, at 6 yrs old now he seems to have accumulated a few more over time.
Why Introducing A Lovey Can Be Helpful:
- Have a favorite buddy or lovey can help through separation anxiety – that’s their little buddy that helps remind them that they are safe, comforted and secure in their bed and can encourage better sleep.
- It also helps get them excited for sleep time ( time to snuggle their friend – if they aren’t struggling with separation anxiety it’s a good idea to try and keep the lovey for sleep only)
- Children go through waves of anxiety, some times will be harder than others but their little friend always stays the same and provides consistent comfort to them.
When should I introduce a lovey?
The recommendation is to not have anything in the crib until after 12 months of age, however, after a conversation with their doctor some families feel once their child is sitting and moving independently they are comfortable introducing a lovey after 6 months of age. There are some really great ones that we recommend and we’ll post the links to those below. Having a cuddle friend for sleep can help child become excited to go into bed and it can ease the feelings of separation.
A few tips for when your child has a favorite lovey:
- Loveys can become quite a part of the family so be sure to take lots of pictures to look back on when they are older.
- When choosing a sleep buddy for your child, you want to make sure that it is small enough (no bigger sized blankets or pillows/stuffies) and that it doesn’t have pieces that can come off and pose a choking hazard (button eyes, zippers..). Some of the more popular ones are the headed animal blankets and the square muslin cotton ones. These are both small enough that if a baby does put it over their face, they are breathable and a quick turn of the head to take it off.
- When choosing a lovey for your child, buy two. If your little one is already attached to one, buy another one.. seriously!
- The super important part of having more than one lovey is to regularly switch them out so that they somewhat evenly get used. They will notice if all of a sudden their best friend looks and smells all shiny and new! You will be glad you have two loveys when you lose a sleep friend minutes before bedtime! Having a back up can be a bedtime life saver!
How to Introduce a Lovey
Some children take to a lovey right away and some take a little more time to warm up to them. And some…just don’t attach to one, no matter how many different ones you buy! We do have some tips to help build that attachment though that might help your child:
- Moms: wear and sleep with the lovey for a day or two to help transfer your scent to it. Your smell is comforting to them so don’t be shy.. Stick it in your bra, go for a little walk.. Really transfer that smell. 🙂
- Engage and play with the lovey while they are cradled in your arms eating. This is also a great way to keep them focused on what they are supposed to be doing.. eating and not trying to see all of the other happenings going on!
- During your nap and bedtime routine, you can have them cuddle with it while you are reading or singing. If they don’t seem interested at first, you can have it snuggled up in the crook of your neck to start and then bring it into their hands.
- When you put them into their bed or check on them at night, tuck the lovey into their arms. They won’t automatically know that the lovey is there for them to snuggle with. Putting it in their arms will show them that.
- Include the lovey into your bedtime routine – “goodnight (special lovey name),” give him a kiss and a snuggle and then have them snuggle your little as you are putting them into their bed.
- Try and keep it for bed only, especially when they are little. As they get a little older they tend to want to do a lot of imaginary play with them (so cute) and it does get lost. If your child is taking their lovey out and about be sure to remind them to keep it close and try to keep track of it yourself. The bedtime search is brutal!
- Be sure to give your little one time to play with their friend at non sleep times in their crib. It’s expected that the first couple of times you have the lovey in with them that they are going to want to play a little and that’s okay! To help that though, take some time during the day to give them a chance to play with it in the crib without having to go to sleep.
As mentioned, here are some of our favorite loveys (we are not being paid to share these links- just sharing products we love to give you examples of loveys you may want to look for):
Have you introduced your little one to a bedtime buddy or lovey? Did they take to it on their own or did you have to put a little work into it? Share a pic of them together in our Facebook group!
We hope you found these tips on how to introduce a lovey helpful! If you find yourself struggling with sleep challenges, we are here to help! We have helped many families (read what they have to say here) get the sleep they need! Check out our services page and contact us for a free consultation to find out how we can help!
Elisa and Pam