As our family made the transition from bed-sharing to our baby sleeping independently in his crib, we looked for every idea we could find to make this as successful as possible, while also making it a really gentle transition for our baby.
Because truth be told, although I was ready to finally start cuddling my husband again during the night, I couldn’t handle the idea of suddenly forcing my baby to cry himself to sleep.
Luckily, right around this time, we went on a family trip and were window shopping at the local mall. As we passed one of the windows, we saw a lovey that was just perfect for our baby and decided to implement that into our new bedtime routine.
Keep reading to hear our journey from bed-sharing to crib sleeping, how introducing a lovey helped us to achieve a better night’s sleep, and answers to the 13 of the most common questions about giving your baby a special baby blanket or lovey.
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What is a lovey?
Before I dive in, it might be helpful to start with a little information in case you haven’t heard the term “lovey” before.
In a nutshell, a lovey is any item that your child bonds with to feel more safe and secure.
These are often introduced to help with sleep and transitional periods, because it gives your baby something to attach to when you can’t be there.
A transitional item can be anything, including pacifiers, teethers, soft books, or anything else that brings your baby comfort.
We typically save the name “lovey” for security items like baby blankets, stuffed animals, or small toys. And these days it’s particularly common to purchase a lovey that looks something like this – a small stuffed animal face attached to a little baby blanket.
Before introducing our lovey
For the first 6 months or so, our baby spent almost every night sleeping in our bed.
We researched safe bed-sharing and decided that this would be the best fit for our family. Every night, we started with our bedtime routine and encouraged our baby to sleep in his bassinet.
But usually he made it clear that he wanted extra cuddles and we typically switched over to bed sharing after trying to put him to sleep alone two or three times.
This worked really well for us for a while, and honestly, bed sharing was one of my favorite parts of new motherhood. But as he grew older and bigger we started to work a little harder on his bedtime routine in hopes that he would sleep in his own crib.
For a few months, our bedtime routine was tricky!
He cried more than I liked and I spent hours trying to soothe and rock him to sleep only to put him down and watch him immediately wake up to start all over again!
When he was around 9 months old, we bought his first lovey and it completely transformed our bed time routine.
What happened to our baby after introducing a lovey:
Our baby has completely fallen in love with his lovey and it gives him so much comfort at bedtime, when he wakes up at night, during transitions to daycare, and on bad days.
Now our baby (19 months) tells us when he’s ready for bed. He wanders into his room, pulls his raccoon lovey out of his crib, and walks back to us.
He knows that his lovey is in important part of his bedtime routine and clearly signals to us when it’s time to wind down for the night.
Prior to introducing the lovey, our baby woke up multiple times per night and I spent a lot of time cuddling and helping to soothe him back to sleep.
These days, he almost always rolls over, cuddles his lovey and drifts back to sleep, unless he needs something else like a glass of water or he needs a diaper change.
We didn’t expect this at first, but our lovey has been a huge help for us when our baby has a cough, cold, or stomach flu.
He loves cuddling with his raccoon lovey and extra snuggles with both his lovey and mom or dad help him to feel much better when he sick.
Like everyone else, our baby has bad days when he just feels grumpy and crabby at everything. When he’s super cranky, we offer his lovey to give him a few extra cuddles.
Almost always, he spends a little quiet time cuddling his lovey and then feels much better and much less cranky afterward.
Missing Mom and Dad:
Most days we get through our morning routine and day care drop off with no problems, but occasionally, our baby just really misses Mom and Dad and this transition is more difficult for a few days.
Luckily, we can give him his raccoon lovey to cuddle and help him feel better and then he can enjoy the rest of his day at daycare without feeling sad and lonely.
13 Questions to Help You Introduce a Lovey to Your Baby:
When we introduced our lovey, we thought of a lot of questions and I wanted to share what we have learned and our experience to help you as you decide whether or not to introduce a lovey to your baby.
Keep reading for the answers to 13 of the most common questions new moms and dads have about giving their baby a special blanket or lovey.
What are the benefits of giving your baby a lovey?
You might be wondering why you would even want to introduce a lovey (although if you found your way to this article, you’re probably already leaning towards getting one).
But it’s a great question and one that lots of new parents ask themselves.
My husband and I weren’t exactly sure if it would be a good thing to introduce something with the full intention being to help our baby get pretty attached to it.
Did we want another blanket to worry about keeping clean? What if he gets super attached to it and we can’t ever wean him off of it? What if we lose it and our baby has a complete meltdown??
If you’re feeling these hesitations, I completely understand and we were totally there a few months ago when we introduced our lovey. But we ultimately decided that introducing a comfort item was well worth it for three main reasons:
Introducing a lovey helps with separation anxiety.
As babies gets a little older, they go through different phases of increased separation anxiety. The exact timeline varies a little for each child, but we saw the most separation anxiety around 6 months and again around 18 months.
By introducing a lovey, we now have something for our baby to attach to when we couldn’t be there.
During daycare drop offs, with our updated bedtime routine, and when we leave our little one with a babysitter and finally sneak out for a date night, our baby now has something else he can turn to for comfort when we aren’t around.
This helps with our transitions immensely and gives us comfort not always being right by our baby’s side because we know that he has his little raccoon lovey to snuggle with too.
Adding a comfort blanket helps your baby during colds and illnesses.
Our lovey is particularly well-loved anytime our baby is sick.
You know when you feel yucky and you just want to cuddle on the couch snuggled in your favorite blanket and ratty old sweatshirt? Our babies feel this way too!
By introducing a lovey and building up that attachment, our baby has something extra to cuddle with and help feel a little better any time he’s under the weather.
These days, whenever our baby gets sick, he finds his raccoon lovey “Mapache,” brings it to the couch, and cuddles with mom and Mapache to help him feel better.
A lovey can help soothe your child to sleep.
Like many other parents, this was a big reason why we decided to introduce a lovey in the first place.
We were looking to build up our child’s sleep skills and help him to find comfort to settle back to sleep without always needing us to cuddle and rock him.
This helped in two big ways.
First, we were able to transition away from always bed-sharing to sleeping independently in his crib 100% of the time.
By introducing his lovey, he can now cuddle with Mapache and doesn’t need to cuddle with mom and dad in our bed in order to sleep.
Second, we significantly decreased the number of overnight wakings after introducing our lovey.
When our baby wakes up in the middle of the night, he no longer has to cry for mom to come and rock him back to sleep. Instead, he can roll over, cuddle his lovey, and quickly drift back to sleep with his favorite cuddle buddy.
What are some ideas for choosing a baby comfort blanket?
If you do a quick Amazon search for “baby lovey,” you will probably be amazed at how many different baby lovey ideas you find.
We actually lucked out a bit when we found our lovey. We had been toying with the idea of finding one and happened to be window shopping during a family trip.
At that time, our baby’s favorite toy was a toy raccoon that attached to his Doona.
While we were walking through the mall, we noticed a raccoon lovey with a super soft blanket attached to it and knew this one was perfect for our baby. (Our exact model is discontinued, but it looks super similar to this one.)
How do you know what type of lovey your baby will really enjoy?
It might take a little trial and error and continuing to reintroduce your lovey in order for your baby to fall in love. This is good, because it means that any lovey can potentially work with your baby.
When choosing the best baby lovey, try to think about your baby’s preferences. If she loves cuddling in super soft blankets, look for a really soft lovey. If he’s constantly twirling your hair or playing with necklaces and sweatshirt cords, look for one with little tags or dangly legs (like an octopus stuffed animal) to touch and play with.
Beyond that, you can pick anything that calls to you. Maybe it’s super cute or has some significance to your family.
Choose that and then introduce it to your baby often in order to start building that attachment.
When can you give your baby a lovey blanket?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that your baby shouldn’t sleep any anything other than a pacifier for the first 12 months. So the safest best is to wait until after your baby’s first birthday, although you can certainly introduce a lovey earlier during awake time to start building this bond.
If you’re thinking of adding a lovey to help with naps and bedtime before your baby’s first birthday, make sure to discuss it with your pediatrician and be really honest about they skills they have already learned.
How can you make sure that your baby’s lovey is safe?
Since loveys and baby blankets are usually used to help with baby sleep, try to wait to introduce your baby’s lovey until around a year old so they have the skills needed to sleep safely with their new security item.
When picking out a safe lovey for your baby, look for something that is soft and small, is made of breathable material, and has no little pieces that can come detached (like a little bow or a button eye or nose your baby bite or pull off).
When can your baby sleep with a lovey?
Again, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby sleeps alone in the crib with no blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. until after 12 months. It’s safest to wait until after your baby turns one to start adding your lovey to your bedtime or naptime routine.
If you’re thinking of adding a lovey before your baby turns one, you should discuss this with your pediatrician to discuss if this is safe based one your child’s current milestones and development.
A couple of months before our baby turned one, he could roll to both sides really well and easily maneuver things around him. We introduced his lovey during naptime and I sat next to him and watched every nap for a couple of weeks.
He was able to roll over and move his lovey away from his face every time he adjusted in bed.
This gave us the confidence to introduce his lovey at bedtime too a little before he turned a year old. *Be sure to check with your pediatrician before adding anything into your child’s sleep space. It can be fatal to introduce a lovey before your child is ready.*
At the 12 month mark, or when you get the go-ahead from your doctor, you can take the same approach that we did and start by introducing your baby’s lovey during naptime while you can supervise everything and then slowly add it in at bedtime once you know your baby can move it around and away from her face without any challenges.
This will help you to feel more confident and certain that your baby is ready for her lovey for naps and overnight.
How to Introduce a Baby Lovey?
When introducing your new lovey or comfort blanket to your baby, it’s important to remember that your baby will probably need a little time to form an attachment.
Your baby probably won’t automatically know that this is something to fall in love with.
Introduce it slowly and give your baby time to bond with your new lovey.
Make it part of your routine and give it a personality. Give it hugs and kisses and assist your baby to do the same.
Spend an hour (or an entire night) cuddling your new lovey to help give it your scent and make it easier for your baby to bond with. This will help your baby to feel like you are right there too.
Keep introducing it and building it into your routine and your baby will quickly build an attachment to your new lovey.
How do you add your lovey to your baby’s bedtime routine?
Once you know that it’s safe to add your lovey to your baby’s bedtime routine, this is actually super simple! Just add it into your routine in the way that feels the most natural to you.
After supper, we typically spend time hanging out as a family and always sneak in a bit of rough play before bed. Some giggling and chasing around our 1 year old before bed is super important in our bedtime routine because it helps him to bond with us and get out some extra energy.
Then we transition to quiet time and always invite his raccoon lovey to join us.
We usually spend about 15 minutes rocking in our rocking chair, talking about our day, and reading a few books. We cuddle each other and our lovey the entire time.
Then it’s time for bed. Usually we sing a song and sneak in the last few snuggles and then I tuck my baby into bed with his lovey underneath his arm. (Sometimes he gets both of his loveys, one tucked under each arm). Then we say goodnight and I leave his room while he snuggles his comfort blanket.
It really is that simple!
Just modify your current bedtime routine a little to introduce your new lovey in the way that feels the best for your family.
Should you have an extra lovey?
That brings up another great question that we thought about and hear a lot from other new parents. Should we have a back-up lovey or an extra baby blanket?
I wholeheartedly vote yes!
It’s probable that your baby is going to become pretty attached to his lovey. This is the item that gives him comfort when you’re not around and it’s pretty important to him.
No one wants the pressure of only having one lovey and then scrambling what to do if you have to wash it or if you lose it.
I recommend that you have at least two transitional items. These can be the exact same, just duplicates, or similar in size or texture. We have one raccoon lovey that is a dark blue color and one that’s light blue.
Try to use these interchangeably as much as possible. You can switch them out every couple of days or weeks, occasionally use them both at the same time, or any other way to help your baby fall in love with both of them equally.
Should you be worried if your baby is playing with her lovey instead of napping?
This is super common, especially when you first introduce a new transitional item. Your baby might want to chat a little before drifting off to sleep.
Now, at 19 months, our baby still likes to sit and chat with his lovey before naptime on a regular basis. He will cuddle or hold up his raccoon and talk for 15-30 minutes and then settle down to nap.
That is completely okay and typically you don’t need to do anything. We just let our baby have his time to chat and then let him nap when he’s ready.
If your baby won’t sleep and just plays with her new lovey, you can try to introduce it more slowly and really spend time cuddling and rocking during quiet time with your lovey to help build the association between sleep and your new baby blanket.
Should you let your baby use the lovey anytime or just while sleeping?
This is really a personal preference.
I recommend thinking about its purpose and why you introduced it in the first place.
If you added it to help with bedtime routines and don’t want your baby to use it during the day, just use it at naptime and bedtime and help your baby understand that your lovey stays in the crib.
On the other hand, if you’d like to use this to help with other transitions, like daycare drop offs or if someone else is watching your child, you might want to be more flexible and let your baby cuddle her lovey during the day too.
I do recommend setting a few expectations about when your baby can and can’t have her lovey. We are pretty flexible and our baby loves to cuddle his lovey throughout the day. But he’s not allowed to have his lovey while eating or while working on our pre-potty training skills for sanitary reasons.
He’s learned that he needs to set his lovey aside when he eats and when he goes to the bathroom and then can cuddle it later if he wants to.
How to decide if you let your lovey leave the house with you?
Again, this depends and I recommend that you look at the goal of your lovey as well as your lifestyle.
If you’re typically with your child when you’re out of the house and you’re worried about misplacing her favorite lovey, you might want to keep it at home.
But if you want to use your lovey to help while dropping off at daycare, helping with long car rides, or spending the day at grandma’s house, you might want to allow your lovey to leave the house with your baby.
How often should you wash your baby’s transitional item?
This is also going to depend a bit on your baby and how quickly her baby blanket gets dirty.
We’ve had phases where we had to wash our baby’s blanket every day, because he peed through his pajamas and soaked his raccoon lovey too.
But we’ve also had phases where we only washed his baby blanket once or twice a week and that’s worked well for us.
I do recommend that you wash your baby’s lovey at a bare minimum once per week since your baby can drool or otherwise soil her lovey and you want to make sure that it stays clean and sanitary for all of those special cuddles.
By washing it often from the very beginning, you also help your child get used to this and the changes in smell and texture after washing, which will make it easier as your child gets more attached.
What other questions do you have about introducing a lovey for your baby?
Does your baby have a special lovey? Leave a comment telling me what it is and if it has a special name.
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