Many parents – especially those welcoming their first child – might find that “Lovey” is a term they’re unfamiliar with.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at loveys – what they are, different types, benefits, and how to introduce them to your little one.
These topics should give you a pretty good idea of what they’re all about and what sort of lovey is best for you and your baby.
What exactly is a lovey?
Put simply, a lovey is a “transitional object” – or as it’s more commonly known, a comfort item, like a teddy bear, blanket, or any other object that a child can become attached to. They help keep your little one feeling safe and secure, help them sleep better, and help baby be more calm and relaxed overall.
Having a lovey is a big part of a child’s early development, and they represent a significant milestone on the path from wholly dependent newborn to highly independent toddler. And are one of the earliest things that young children can do to navigate stressful changes and experiences independently of their parents, building confidence and the very start of a sense of their own identity as an individual.
Around 50% of all children will have some sort of comfort item. As they get older, it’s entirely normal for kids to give their loveys traits of their own – names, personalities, and other attributes, as they learn to become more creative, using their imaginations. While this can seem odd to first-time parents, it’s totally normal behavior and is something that is healthy to encourage.
Different types of lovey
There are plenty of different types of lovey – in fact, pretty much anything can be one, provided it’s soft and cute. We’ll briefly look at a few or the more common here, hopefully giving you some ideas and inspiration on deciding which type of comfort item is right for you and your little one.
Perhaps the most obvious type of comfort items – blankets are likely the first thing that comes to mind when you think about loveys – in particular, security blankets, which are hands down the most instantly recognizable type of lovey.
Blankets come in all shapes and sizes, many of which can make great comfort items. From dinosaur swaddles and other baby blankets to larger kids dinosaur blankets and even those that are purpose-made loveys, being more of a hybrid blanket/plush toy combo.
When it comes to blankets as a lovey choice, you want to opt for those that are smaller – not larger ones – as these will be far easier to fold down and bring with you. Larger ones won’t – being far more cumbersome than their smaller alternatives.
2. Plush toys
Arguably just as obvious as blankets, up next are plush toys – being just as popular as blankets, if not more so. Plushies come in all shapes, sizes, and styles – from small and medium-sized plushies, in all sorts of characters and animals, to things like dinosaur squishmallows and other similar items.
One major advantage a dinosaur plush toy offers over a blanket is that it will remain relevant for much longer as your little one grows. Toddlers and young school-aged children are far more likely to stay fond of their favorite plush than their baby blanket as they get older.
Another is that they’re far better suited to play than a blanket is. This makes them an item that your little one will find far easier to bond with, as they’ll be able to utilize their comfort item in more scenarios and play than they would a comfort blanket.
3. Other options to consider
While security blankets and plush toys are the more common types of comfort objects, it doesn’t mean they’re the only – there are plenty of other options that are worth thinking about, all of which are just at good as performing the job of a lovey.
Things like dinosaur teethers and dinosaur pacifiers – especially those attached to a plush – or dinosaur pillows and dino pillow pets are all good choices. Essentially, if it’s super cute and super soft, there’s no reason it won’t make a fantastic comfort item for your little one.
In the case of teethers and pacifiers, these picks also offer much more in the way of versatility than a plush toy or even a blankie, which can help you save on carrying extra items with you when you and your baby are out of the house.
Choosing the right lovey for your little one
When it comes to loveys, the best are those that aren’t too big, aren’t too noisy, are effective at keeping your little one distracted when you need them to be, and most importantly – are the ones your little help pick out themselves.
Every baby is different – meaning that there’s no one-size-fits-all ideal lovey – it’s going to take a little trial and error to get it right, deciding on the lovey that is best for you and your baby.
Below we’ve given a few pointers to help you pick out a lovey for your little one – including everything from safety tips to size, noise, and how easy they are to replace.
1. Check that it’s age-appropriate and safe
As with any other toy or baby purchase – the very first step is to make sure that you pick out a lovey that’s both safe and age-appropriate for your little one, preventing any unfortunate accidents or mishaps.
This could be trickier depending on the item you go for – takes toys, for example, the ages that these are appropriate for are always included on the product description and packaging. However, with non-toy items, this is going to be far less common. In such instances, you’ll need to use your common sense to determine whether or not a lovey is indeed age-appropriate.
The primary thing you’ll be looking for here is any potential choking hazards. Make sure to avoid anything with small parts that are either detachable or could easily fall off or come apart – as these can quickly become dangerous for babies and younger children.
2. Choose things that your little one likes
While at this age it can be difficult to determine what they like. That said, you may have some idea – perhaps there is a specific cartoon they perk up to when they hear it in the background, or maybe they’ve shown an extra level of interest in a particular thing or animal.
Chances are, though, they probably haven’t. If this is your child, you could always try selecting a few possible candidates, placing them close to your little one’s crib, letting them decide which they like the most. You’ll likely want to re-run this experiment a few times before deciding on a winner – and once you have one, put away the other items back in your little one’s dinosaur toy box.
3. Choose something that’s easily replaceable
What we mean by this is anything store-bought, mass-produced, and can be picked up from Amazon for next-day delivery for no more than a few bucks. The last thing you want is one-of-a-kind items, which are difficult to replace – as these items have a tendency to be frequently misplaced or lost.
It never hurts to have a backup or spare to hand when you need it. Perhaps the single best tip we have to offer is once your little one has decided on a lovey, pick up a second one just in case they lose it. When the inevitable happens, you’ll be glad that you did!
4. Avoid anything that makes too much noise
You’ll also want to avoid anything too noisy. Some noise is acceptable – say that of a rattle or a scrunchy sensory bits incorporated into a soft toy – but anything musical or excessively loud, avoid at all costs!
While things like light-up dinosaur toys can be great for bedtime, playing a lullable to set your little one off to sleep – you don’t want them to become too attached to the music, requiring you to play it throughout the day to keep them happy and relaxed.
5. Avoid anything that’s too big
The perfect lovey is one that fits in your dinosaur diaper bag – as you’ll want to bring the item with you, wherever you and baby go so that it’s on-hand, available when and where it’s needed.
This means you’ll want to keep it on the smaller side so that it’s easy to bring with you. If your little one’s must-have comfort item is a giant dinosaur plush, you’re going to find yourself in trouble!
Avoiding anything oversized gives blankets an edge on plushies and other comfort items, as they can be folded down to a relatively small pack size. That said, provided you simply stick to smaller items, it won’t matter much what it is, provided it’s easy to bring with you.
How they’re used, their benefits, and why baby needs one
Loveys offer a whole host of emotional and developmental benefits, being an excellent first step to put your little one on the path to independence.
They can also be helpful at teaching your child how to bond with others – something that will help them in later life, as they’re able to form strong bonds with their friends, relatives, and their own children in the future.
Below we look at a few of the main uses and benefits of loveys, which should hopefully give you a pretty good idea of what they can potentially offer you and your family.
1. Can help them to better transition through significant life-changes
Growing up is marked by all sorts of big firsts; the first day at nursery or school, first sleepover, or first trip without mommy or daddy. These firsts can cause plenty of anxiety, as many of these significant, life-changing events can unsettle your little one, making them feel uneasy and unsure of themselves.
Loveys can help them to navigate these events, arming them with something familiar and safe, to help them get through them unscathed, without any issues. They can also be good for significant life-changing events that are negative – say, the death of a parent or a divorce – helping them to better deal with the situation that they might otherwise have without their comfort object.
2. Can help your child to sleep better, preventing nightmares
As children get older, many of them start to develop a fear of the dark and begin to experience occasional nightmares. Keeping a lovey nearby can help to prevent these issues and reduce the negative impact they can have on your little one’s sleep.
They can also help deal with children who refuse to sleep in their own beds, instead always trying to get into bed with mommy and daddy. This is because they have a familiar scent, which can have a calming effect on children, helping to keep them relaxed, calm, and in their own beds, sound asleep throughout the night.
3. Help your child to better deal with scary situations
Being a kid isn’t all sunshine and roses – there are plenty of scary situations that we all encounter as we grow up. For example, visiting the doctor or dentist can cause plenty of anxiety for kids – for which a lovey can provide plenty of moral support.
But it doesn’t have just to be medical issues – dealing with some situations on the playground at school can cause anxiety, or other things, like the death of a friend or loved one. Having a comfort item to help get your little one through these scenarios can be tremendously helpful.
When should you introduce a Lovey?
Babies will generally start gravitating towards comfort objects at some point between 8 and 12 months. In some cases, this can happen earlier – with babies as young as six months old showing interest in having a comfort item.
That said, it’s important to note that when it comes to sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under the age of one shouldn’t have any objects with them in their crib when they sleep – so keep this in mind, making sure to remove your little one’s lovey after you’ve put them down for the night.
This next section looks at a few tips and ideas to help introduce a new lovey to your child that you can utilize when the time is right to give your little one their first comfort item.
Tips on introducing a new lovey to your child
1. You’ll want to make your lovey smell like Mommy
At this age, scent can be a powerful soother – making it a good idea to transfer Mommy’s scent to your child’s new lovey, as this can help simulate snuggling with mama.
Simply hold the lovey against your skin for an hour or so before giving it to baby for the first time. One way to do this is to keep it in your bra, as this offers a convenient, hands-free way of holding it to your skin to transfer your scent to it.
2. Incorporate the lovey into your regular sleep routine
Another idea is to reserve the lovey almost exclusively for sleep – making it clear that this object is more than just another toy by incorporating it into your bed or nap time routine.
For younger babies, make sure to remove the lovey once they’re asleep, as sleeping with items in a crib at this age can be dangerous.
3. Give them options. Offer several different loveys, letting baby choose
As we’ve already mentioned, one idea is to get an assortment of different possible loveys, placing them close to the baby’s crib and letting them decide which they like the most.
This isn’t going to be instant – you’ll want to repeat the process several times until there’s a clear winner – but once you have one, the bond your little one will form with their chosen lovey is likely to be greater than one that’s simply given to them.
4. Be patient. Give your little one plenty of time to get acquainted with their new lovey!
Always remember to be patient – your little one isn’t going to bond with their new lovey overnight; it’s going to take time.
It’s also important to remember that some children won’t bond with a lovey at all, so don’t force it – they’ll either gravitate to their new comfort object, or they won’t.
Well, there you have it – our guide to all-things loveys. We’ve taken you through what they are, the benefits that they offer, and how best to introduce one to your child.
Loveys offer a host of emotional and developmental benefits, being viewed by many as that all-important first step on the path to independence – giving them a way of coping with stress and anxiety without always needing help from mommy or daddy.
It’s important to keep in mind that not every child will need or want a lovey – so don’t force it on them – let them decide if it’s for them, picking out a comfort item that they like, if and when they feel the need to.
We hope that you learned something from this article and that it was in some way useful in helping you decide if a lovey is right for you and your little one, as well as what type of lovey you’ll choose.