Many children between the ages of six months and five years use transitional objects such as blankets, loveys, or stuffed animals to soothe them, especially during times of change and challenge. These items become both beloved by children and useful when moving from one developmental stage to the next, or for overcoming common childhood challenges.
Why do Children Choose Transitional Objects?
Most children who choose transitional objects select them in infancy, between eight and 12 months of age. Parents may buy their babies personalized loveys or special stuffed animals only to discover that their little ones form an attachment to an old hand-me-down bunny or a non-descript blanket. The child does the choosing! These security items generally stay with kids for several more years, sometimes even through preschool and pre-K, and can help children to weather moments of separation, periods of fear or discomfort, or new and unfamiliar environments. Security blankets and loveys or stuffed animals are often called “transitional objects” because they allow children to transition from dependence to independence by offering them comfort when they are away from a parent or primary caregiver. These objects work to comfort children due to their soft, tactile nature and the fact that they are reminders of home.
Benefits of Transitional Objects for Early Childhood Development
Security blankets, loveys, and stuffed animals can be helpful to children when navigating some of the most jarring transitions of early childhood. Weaning off of a mother’s breast milk, for instance, can be difficult for many infants and toddlers, and many children adopt a transitional object during this time to ease the transition. Sleeping in a crib by oneself, in a new toddler bed, or even in a new home can be challenging for young children, and a special object can help them soothe themselves and make this change more easily. Other life events such as starting a new daycare or childcare center, welcoming a new sibling to the home, or coping with the loss of a pet or a grandparent, can be eased by the use of a transitional object. These objects help children to regulate their emotions on their own.
Myths Surrounding the Adoption of Security Objects
Many parents object to the use of transitional objects such as security blankets, stuffed animals, and loveys, because they are concerned that their children will not be able to give up these items. However, most children outgrow their transitional objects by the time they are of school-age. Sure, some children will hang onto their favorite security objects beyond that age, but instead of taking them everywhere they go, will simply use them as a way of falling asleep more easily. Parents are often concerned that security objects may promote thumb-sucking, and they are correct that sometimes use of a security object will coincide with a child sucking his thumb. But thumb-sucking is actually very typical during early childhood development, and kids do grow it of it, usually with no intervention needed from parents.
Security objects can be of the utmost importance to young children, and they are a great way for children to grow from one developmental stage to the next with a little extra help. If your child uses a transitional object, how have you seen it help her through challenges and times of growth? Let us know in the comments section below, or reach out to us today with any questions you may have. If you’re looking for the best childcare center in Monroe, enroll your little one in our daycare or preschool program at Child’s World Academy, and don’t forget to check out our upcoming summer camps!