Comfort objects and why your child needs them
Do you remember having one item that you carried around wherever you went as a child? It may have been a blanket, a plush toy, or maybe your mom’s dupatta or granny’s hankie. Whatever the object was, it probably reminded you of someone you loved, and chances are that your child has one of these too!
These items are called comfort objects or transitional objects and are an important part of a child's developmental journey.
Comfort objects help little ones self-soothe when their parents are not around, give them a feeling of safety when they go to unfamiliar places, and become companions to share their experiences with.
So are you ready to support your child as they take this next step towards independence? Read on to know exactly how comfort objects help children and how to build healthy habits around them!
What exactly is a comfort object?
Before we talk about comfort objects, let's consider what comfort means to a baby. In the first few months, a newborn considers their mother as an extension of themselves. They form a bond with her based on this closeness of always being held, cradled, and fed.
When the baby is about 8-12 months, they begin to realize that they are separate from their mother or primary caregiver. This can cause a lot of anxiety and fear in children, especially when their caregivers are not around. The child may be afraid that the parent will not return or may just not know how to feel safe without the closeness they are used to experiencing.
Here is how a comfort object can help ease all of this for a child:
1. Comfort objects reduce stress and anxiety: Your child will pick a comfort object based on what they enjoy holding and playing with when you are near them and cuddling them. This object reminds them of the feeling of security that they feel with you. Holding this object when you are not around will be a substitute that helps them retain that feeling.
2. They help a child develop independence: Comfort objects are sometimes looked at as a sign of weakness. This is untrue because the main purpose of a comfort object is to help a child learn to be away from their parent and develop independence in a healthy way.
In fact, studies have shown that young children who use comfort objects are more likely to do well at tasks when their parents are not around as opposed those who do not use such objects. This is because comfort objects help young children feel relaxed, which in turn lets them give their complete focus to the task at hand.
3. These objects hone emotional intelligence: If your child uses a plush toy as a comfort object, it could also be a great buddy for them to play with. Speaking to these toys could improve their vocabulary and social skills and teach them to express how they feel.
Introducing a comfort object to your child
If you are wondering how to go about finding the perfect comfort object for your child, here are a few simple steps:
1. Try out a few and let your child pick - While you are feeding your baby, cuddling them, or playing with them during tummy time, let them hold something in their hands. This could be a soft and cushy plush toy, a warm little blanket, or maybe even a rattle they love. Try leaving your child with this object for short spans of time when you step away. They will naturally gravitate towards a toy or two, which will become their comfort object over time.
2. Immediately introduce a double - At some point, you will have to take your child's comfort object away to wash and clean it or it may even get worn out over time. In such situations, it’s helpful to have an exact replica of the toy. But children know instinctively if the toy is different, no matter how similar it may look. So keep two and rotate them, allowing your child to develop a bond with both objects.
3. Set boundaries around the object - Every child uses a comfort object in their own way, depending on their needs and temperament. But it would be helpful in the long run if you put down a few basic rules. For example, you could tell them that they can only take the toy if they are going somewhere new or stressful, or allow them to hold it during nap time or when you are away. This will reduce your stress and also make it easier for them to wean off it over time.
Comfort objects your child will love
1. Waldorf Star Doll
This doll is the perfect snuggle buddy for a baby! Designed based on the Waldorf philosophy, it will nourish your child’s senses, tickle their imagination, and keep their head, heart, and fingers engaged in play. Let them hold it and enjoy the soft, natural feel against their skin. It can easily become a wonderful security blanket or a comforting companion for your baby.
2. Cuddly Buddy Plush Toy
Our range of adorable crochet cuddly buddies include a bunny, a giraffe, a penguin, and a Humpty Dumpty. These plush toys are designed by children and are sure to be instant hits with any child. They are soft, have cute little faces, and provide a rich sensory feel. These are perfect to hug and hold and could offer your little one warmth and security during tough transitions or times of stress.
3. Organic Muslin Swaddle
Your little love bug will feel snug and warm in these breathable, ultra-soft organic cotton blankets. These colourful and gorgeously illustrated swaddle blankets also make for great comfort items as they will help recreate the secure and cozy feeling of the womb.
4. Crochet Rattle
Rattles are often a child’s first toy so it can easily become a comfort object. Our range of crochet rattles provide an interesting texture for your child to hold, are safe to sink their teething gums into, and also give them something to move around if they feel restless.
How long should a child use a comfort object for?
Let your child take their time with it! They will let go of the object when they’ve learnt to hold on to the feeling of safety and security within them. This may take longer in some children and that’s completely alright. Just make sure to check in with your child to ensure that there is nothing else majorly stressing them that they may need your help working through.