Why buying a baby comforter?
The comforter is a transitional object * that helps the child to soothe and comfort herself in a stressful moment. In the company of her comforter, the child keeps a link with her environment. The comforter will be one of the child’s most important objects.
When the baby becomes aware of the separation between his body and his mothers, he starts experiencing frustration and anxiety. The transitional object is often the first possession that belongs to the child, as an extension of this parental love.
This object is often soft – like a blanket or a specially designed toy – and represents all components of “mothering”, somehow replacing mommy’s absence. A dummy is often used as well, but when the baby realizes the soothing object is no longer in their mouth, and with no coordination to put it back, he will begin to cry.
The comforter can really help settle the child when she is upset, such as during sickness, the arrival of a new sibling, on a new environment, car trips…. using a comforter can also help the child to easily transition to independent sleep. When it is kept within reach during the night, she can easily reach for it and sooth herself to sleep.
Sleep association is a routine that lets the baby know it is the appropriate time to go to sleep. Usual practices to induce babies to sleep are often cuddling, feeding, rocking or laying down with them, which requires parents to be present each time the baby needs to sleep. When already asleep, babies will begin to cry if they go through the light stage of the sleeping cycle and they recognize the parent is no longer next to them.
Studies have shown that children who carry a comforter are better to deal with a stressful situation and become more adaptable when they grow older.
* Concept developed by English pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott
When to introduce a comforter?
Babies go through phases of separation anxiety, usually around 7-12 months, and again at about 2 years old, for which a comforter can be especially helpful. However, also introducing a comforter during sleep training can make the process much smoother and more effective, as it can help to teach positive sleeping habits.
If you would like your baby to become attached to a comforter from babyhood to his toddler years, between 5-10 months seems to be the best time to introduce it. However, children can benefit from having a comforter for many years (usually around 6 years or later), so it is never too late to introduce one. Comforters make also a great gift for newborns, but if using a comforter under 6 months of age, the safety requirements are higher (check our safety recommendations).
How to choose a baby comforter?
* Quality and Safety: the comforter must be prepared to last long, suitable for washing, and for being chewed by the baby – natural, light and breathable fibers, water-based ink, tight knots, and hypoallergenic materials. There should be no loose stitching or small pieces that can come off and cause a choking hazard. The best fibers are cotton, muslin or bamboo. If using a comforter under 6 months of age, the safety requirements are higher (check our safety recommendations). it is recommended attaching it to the baby’s swaddle or sleeping bag, with a safety lock safety pin, in a way it cannot go over his face.
* Size and texture: the best comforter will be soft, cuddly and small enough to fit in the baby’s hands. It must be easily held and hugged by the baby. Younger babies will prefer objects that are similar to blankets or with shaped details they can chew on, while older toddlers will give preference to an object more similar to a toy, such as a snuggly animal. When possible, give your toddler different options for him to choose from, before you buy it.
* Washing: the comforter must be suitable for machine washing and tumble dry (read our care recommendations)
Tips on introducing your baby to their comforter:
Some children easily bond with a special object, while others need some encouragement. The first step is to introduce the comforters into the baby’s routine.
* When feeding him, lay it across your chest and let the baby hold and cuddle it;
* When putting him to sleep, tuck the comforter in with the baby and make sure it stays within reach.
* If your baby has been swaddled, leave one arm out and put the comforter in each.
* It is advisable that the parent sleeps with the comforter a few days before introducing it to the baby, so the object is imbued with his/her natural smell. The more natural the comforter material, the easier it will absorb the parent’s smell.
* It is best to buy multiple similar comforters to use as a back-up when needed – when one is being washed or in case of a loss.
You will know when your baby becomes attached to their comforter: he will smile when seeing it, reach for it when upset and hold it tight when stressed.
Remember: a repeated introduction is the key to a lasting friendship!