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How a Lovey Can Help Your Baby Sleep
Research shows that by using a lovey or comforter your baby is more likely to sleep through the night at an early age.
Compared to babies without comforters, babies with comforters are more secure in times of change, stress or separation. Further research has even shown that loveys or comforters can be as effective as parents in settling baby in situations of moderate distress.
Buying a comforter as a sleep aid is a good first step if your baby is struggling to sleep through the night. You need to make sure it is baby-safe, with no loose parts that could prove to be a choking hazard, and that is designed for babies. It is also important that you get something which is easily replaceable, in case the other one gets lost.
You can let your baby use a comforter as a sleep aid, helping her drift off to sleep by cuddling and stroking it. Choose something pale as bright colours or patterns will excite her instead of helping her go to sleep! Something soft and fluffy will be most comforting but make sure the pile isn’t too long as you don’t want your baby to breathe in any fluff. Make sure it is washable too as you will definitely have to wash it at some stage!
Before giving the comforter to your baby, keep it close to your skin for a few hours or overnight so that it smells of you. From infancy, you can pop the comforter in your baby’s basket or cot so that she can smell or see it nearby.
Even newborns find security and comfort in having something that looks and smells familiar placed in her crib or cot and this can help her go back to sleep by herself. It is important though that in the early days your baby can only see and smell it, so keep it out of her way until you feel happy giving it to her to cuddle. A comforter that you can attach to the cot bars can prevent worry in these early days.
Between 6 and 12 months your baby will become more aware of her surroundings and will know when you are leaving the room, but she won’t know when you are coming back! This may lead to separation anxiety. The use of a baby comforter may reduce this anxiety by acting not just as a sleep aid but by providing something which is constant and familiar to your baby in any situation. It is very possible that she will develop a positive dependency on her comforter at this stage.
A child will normally keep her comforter until she is between 3 and 5 years old. At this time she will learn to cope better in different situations, even when you are not there. She may continue to need it as a sleep aid at night though.
Once a comforter is effective in helping your baby sleep, it is likely that she will continue to rely on it in times of anxiety or when she is worried, tired or scared, as well as at nap times or when separated from you.
Be guided by your child and let her give up using the comforter in the day when she is ready. Once she is older than 5 and happy to try new things and cope in difficult situations without it, it is a good idea to discourage use in the daytime, although she may continue to use it for sleep and when she feels vulnerable for many years.
If you push too hard for your little one to stop using her comforter she may go the other way and cling to it even more. Reduce how often she has it in the day but still let her have it at night and when you know she may need a little extra comfort. This will help her through the transition from baby to becoming a happy confident child.
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