The baby shower is over, and your family and friends have all left. You sit, hands folded over your giant bump, in a contented glow of expectation, surrounded by the pile of gifts. You gaze in wonderment at all the snuggly blankets and cute soft toys, and immediately ask yourself, when can baby sleep with a lovey?
You are so grateful for all the beautiful presents you have received for your little bundle of joy. You remember how you were so attached to your favorite blanky as a child, and only gave it up under duress when it literally fell apart when you were 6. You would love your baby to also have something comforting to cuddle with.
What Is A Lovey?
A lovey can really be anything that your baby becomes attached to and gives her comfort, helping her to self-soothe and fall asleep easily. It can be a cuddly soft toy, a little blanket, or even an item of Mom’s clothing.
I have a friend whose baby used to love holding her T-shirt and rubbing it gently on her face while nursing before bed. When her little sweetheart refused to let go of it one night, Mom simply took it off and allowed the baby to cuddle it while falling asleep in her crib. And there you have it. Mom’s T-shirt is lovey!
The idea of a lovey is that it should be something that your baby associates with peace, calm, and serenity. When she is holding it or has it nearby, it should give her a feeling of familiarity, safety, and security.
The lovey should belong to the baby and the baby alone. It should not be something to be shared with siblings, pets, or any other household members.
When Can Baby Sleep With A Lovey?
I usually advise parents to introduce a lovey any time between 6-12 months old. At this stage, the baby will be able to move around in her crib, and reach out and grab things. She will also be able to hold onto and cuddle something that gives her comfort.
Of course, the flip side of this coin is that she will also be able to throw things out of her crib. If you keep putting it back, she will soon tire of the game and realize that the lovey is there to stay.
How Do You Choose A Lovey?
Generally, it is best to choose something small. If it is a soft toy, like a teddy bear, it should be small enough for a baby to hold onto it firmly and snuggle it close to her body. It should be soft and fluffy.
Always make sure that there are no little pieces that can come off, such as buttons for eyes, or ribbons for a collar. These can be dangerous and are a choking and strangulation hazard. Check for no hard, rough bits that can scratch the baby’s delicate skin.
With the world of technology that we live in, many soft toys have musical parts and will play a tune when the paw or tummy is pressed. These should be avoided, as the noise will disturb and wake the baby if she sets it off accidentally.
These musical soft toys are battery operated. If the battery cover comes loose and the battery falls out, it is so dangerous if swallowed that it becomes a life-or-death situation. No baby should ever be left alone with any battery-operated toy of any type.
If your baby has become attached to a particular toy, this can also be used as a lovey, as long as it is not made of a hard material that can hurt the baby if she lies on top of it. My youngest loved her little rubber ducks as a baby. She had a few of them, and always needed one in her crib when she went to sleep.
A pillow or cushion should never be used as a lovey. Baby should never have one in her crib. It is dangerous and she could suffocate if it covers her mouth and nose.
Can A Blanket Be Used As A Lovey?
I do not advise giving baby a full blanket as a lovey. It is too big, and it could pose a danger of suffocation if it covers her face. However, there are many options for small pieces of fabric that are designed to be used as a lovey. One of these would be ideal.
The fabric should be a soft texture that baby will enjoy holding close, and possibly rubbing on her face or between her fingers. Make sure that it is something easily washable. Some baby stores have loveys made of little patchwork squares of different fabrics with different textures. These are very popular.
Can Baby Use Her Favorite Toy As A Lovey?
A favorite toy can be used as a lovey, provided that it is not hard and has no small parts that can come off. It should also not be a noisy toy, like a rattle.
Remember, though, that the lovey should be an item that is reserved for sleep time. So if it is a favorite toy, you will have the struggle of not allowing the baby to play with it during the day. For this reason, I recommend having something like a soft toy or mini lovey blanket that stays in the crib.
Is A Lovey A Good Idea?
I have always liked the idea of giving a baby a lovey. It is something that can be used to help calm and soothe a fretful baby. It gives the baby a sense of security. While I generally advise parents not to allow lovey to leave the house, in order to avoid it getting lost, there are obviously one or two exceptions to this rule.
If the baby is going to sleepover at Grandma’s, she will be far less anxious and stressed about the separation if she has her beloved lovey with her. It will give her that much-needed sense of familiarity.
If you are going away on vacation and the baby will be sleeping in a strange crib, as long as she has her lovey with her she will adjust very quickly.
How Do You Introduce A Lovey?
Before introducing a lovey to a baby, and letting her get attached to it, I always recommend buying a duplicate. Trust me, there is nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you realize that lovey is lost!
If you have two of the same item, as soon as you decide that the time has come when baby can sleep with a lovey, you should start to use the two interchangeably. This not only prevents the disastrous consequences of lovey getting lost. It also enables you to wash lovey regularly.
It is a good idea to swap the two and wash them every couple of days, so that baby is equally used to and attached to both of them. She will then also be used to the feeling and smell of a fresh, clean lovey, rather than a smelly, grubby one.
Studies have shown that babies have a very highly developed sense of smell. Interesting tests have proved that a baby can identify her own mother by smell alone.
Before introducing a new lovey to a baby, Mom should ‘wear’ it for a few hours. Either tuck it into your clothes or even cuddle it in bed with you for a night or two. The fabric will absorb your body’s unique smell. Baby will then immediately recognize Mommy’s scent on the lovey and will find it comforting.
The lovey should be introduced as part of the bedtime routine. After the bath, when nursing or feeding baby her bottle, let her snuggle the lovey. After the feed, cuddle her gently and talk to her quietly or read her a story while she holds the lovey. Then put her down in her crib with it in her hands.
We all know that anxious Moms regularly peep in and check up on their sleeping angels. Every time you check on her, gently place the lovey in her hand, or next to her body. She will soon become accustomed to the feeling of having it nearby and will want to cuddle it.
Is It Safe For Baby To Have A Lovey?
Once you have worked out when a baby can sleep with a lovey, there are certain precautions you need to take when selecting one. If it is a soft toy, avoid anything too big, to avoid suffocation. As already mentioned, make sure that there are no small parts that can come loose. Select a lovey that is soft to the touch, and easily washable.
If you follow all of these guidelines, it is not only safe for the baby to have a lovey, but you will find that it is also extremely helpful. Your little princess will have a best friend that is always there for her when she goes to sleep, providing comfort and assurance that she is safe and secure.