A lovey can be anything your baby is attached to and brings them comfort. For my 2-year-old, it’s her “moon blanket” that we used to swaddle her in. For my 4.5-year-old, sometimes it’s the little trophy she got at her school trike-a-thon (yes, she really slept with it for a month!), and other times it’s the snuggly bear Grandpa gave her.
No matter what they choose as a lovey, the goal is to help your little one comfortably and confidently transition from being with you all day to sleeping independently at night—separation anxiety peaks at 12 months, 18 months, and around two years old. Remember, Mama, separation anxiety is an entirely normal part of childhood. Separation anxiety proves you are building a strong attachment with your little one! Having a lovey for your child to snuggle up to can ease the transition at bedtime.
When and How to Introduce a Lovey
Once your child is one year old, allowing them to sleep with a lovey is safe. Before one, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep with nothing else in the crib to reduce the risk of SIDS.1 The AAP also recently updated its safe sleep guidelines. A new lovey is a great first birthday gift!
Start Small & Keep it Cozy
Keep it simple for a newly one-year-old who isn’t used to sleeping with anything. Don’t start with a giant stuffed animal that will overwhelm them.
I love these little cotton Muslin security blankets by Aden and Anais. They’re small enough not to overwhelm babies or parents who are nervous about letting their baby sleep with something for the first time. Babies love the silky edge, and *bonus*—they’re sold in a two-pack, so you always have a backup!
Another option is this Pro Goleem Lovey. These have a little animal on the top and a small attached blanket. There aren’t any buttons or plastic pieces for the eyes or nose, which is great since those can be choking hazards. The attached blanket has a minky dot fabric on one side and satin on the underside. It is so soft and cuddly. The best part is there are tons of characters to choose from, so you can pick one that your little one will love the most. They usually love holding it by the little animal’s face!
If you want to go the stuffed animal route, I can’t say enough good things about Cuddle + Kind’s hand-knit dolls. The quality is impeccable, and we can all get behind their mission to feed children in need. I recommend going with the smaller size doll for a first-time lovey.
Getting Ready to Introduce the Lovey
After buying your lovey, the first thing you need to do is buy a hundred more! Okay, not a hundred, but get at least one backup. This will be what your little one uses to feel comfortable, so you’ll want extras. Trust me, you don’t want it to be bedtime and the lovey is still wet in the washing machine because you forgot to switch it to the dryer. I am speaking from experience here—cue toddler meltdown.
Before you present the new lovey to your little one, sleep with it yourself for a night. Babies are comforted by the smell of Mama. If this new thing smells like Mommy, your little one will instantly be interested.
How to Introduce the Lovey
The first time you introduce the lovey, you want your baby to be in a calm, happy state. Don’t give it to them when they’re hungry or scared because we don’t want to associate these feelings with the lovey. Show them how soft it is. Rub it on their arm or cheeks. Let them explore the different textures. You can also give the lovey a name.
The best way to encourage your child to connect with their lovey and associate it with sleep is to consistently use it as part of the bedtime (and nap) routine.
If a bath is part of your bedtime routine, bring the lovey into the bathroom when it’s time to get out and say, “Lovey is getting sleepy and wants you to come snuggle! It’s time to get out of the bath.” Let them hold it as you wrap them in a towel.
Then, have your little one hold their lovey while you put on a fresh diaper and pajamas. Play peek-a-boo on the changing table for some extra giggles and connection time before bed!
You can even “brush” the lovey’s teeth and then brush your baby’s teeth. Your little one can take a turn too. While reading books, have your child hold their lovey and snuggle with it if they’d like to. Then turn the lights out and make sure your baby has their lovey in hand as you rock and sing a lullaby before bed. Having their lovey with them during the last moments before separating from you will help them transition to their independent sleep space more confidently. As you place your little one down for sleep, put the lovey in their hand or close by them.
Tip: Don’t force it. It will take some time for your child to connect with their lovey. You may find that they pick something entirely different than the lovey you picked out. As babies become toddlers, their lovey might also change; one night, it’s one thing, and another night it’s something else. As long as it’s safe and brings them comfort, anything goes.
But What About Younger Babies?
I know! Many babies under one year old love soft, snuggly things for sleepy time too, but this is a definite no-no for safe sleep. Enter a unique and *safe* solution: the Snuggy Buddy!
This thing is a hidden gem, and I don’t know how the whole mom world doesn’t know about it! The Snuggy Buddy features a weighted sewn-on lovey on the front of the sleep sack. Genius. It is at chest height, which is in perfect reach for babies to snuggle safely, and the bonus is it’ll never be lost in the crib or tossed out by a protesting toddler.
It’s a wonderful sleep sack for when transitioning out of the swaddle. Little ones LOVE the lovey. Parents watch their babies on the monitor holding and sucking on the loveys throughout the night to self-soothe. You might find yourself washing the sleep sack every morning because the lovey can be soaked in baby drool. This is why backups are a must for nap time, so grab two!
When introducing the Snuggy Buddy, you’ll need to teach your little one where the lovey is. Go ahead and put on the Snuggy Buddy after you put on pajamas, so they’re wearing it for the rest of the routine. Young toddlers can walk in it too. Use the same recommendations for introducing the Snuggy Buddy as the traditional lovey. The more they know what to do with it, the quicker they’ll learn to use it to self-soothe.
Now you’ve got all the lovey options! Enjoy watching your little one connect with their lovey. It will become your child’s loyal sleep companion, and it’s a big milestone! Here’s to their lovey becoming a treasured part of childhood.
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