The Security Blanket: The Power of the Blankie for Baby Sleep
Moms are always asking me how I get my children (and also my client’s children) to sleep so well. My response is that I am a firm believer in the power of the blankie. Sure, newborn babies often receive many blankets as gifts. This, however, is no ordinary blanket. This is a special security object that simply means, “comfort” to your child. This is what your baby turns to in the middle of the night when he or she wakes up, as they often do, even for just brief moments in between sleep cycles. Here’s why a security blanket is your secret weapon to sleep success:
Why a Security Blanket or Lovey Will Help Your Baby Sleep
If a baby is securely attached to their blankie or lovey, instead of crying out and needing mom or dad to comfort him back to sleep, he will find his beloved blankie, snuggle with it, sniff it, rub it on his face, and/or suck on it, and go back to sleep. This is your baby using his blankie to self soothe.
Want to read more about the Lovey?
Read: The Lovey — Your Child’s First Best Friend
Introducing a Security Object
If your baby has already attached himself to an object great. Go with it. If not, by about 5 or 6 months old, its a good idea to start thinking about what you want to become your child’s lovey. For my children, it was a little security blankie–they are about 12 inches by 12 inches. Very small and not something that you would be worried about your child having in their bed.
It doesn’t have to be a blankie. It can be an object like a stuffed animal — it should be something small that is easy to hold in their little hand and has no removeable parts like eyes that could come off.
Do you have a fussy baby?
Read: Soothing a Fussy Baby: Using Motion and Cues to Calm the Crankiness
If you are concerned that your child could end up with it on his face, you can tie a knot in it so it is more of an object then a blanket. Still nervous about having a lovey or security blanket in the bed? You can lay your baby on the ground and play peek-a-boo with the blanket. If you put it on his face and he is able to pull it off, you may feel more comfortable with it in the bed. You know your child and his capabilities the best so if you have concerns about introducing a lovey, wait until he is a bit older and you feel he is more capable of moving the blankie around himself.
I love the ones made by Aden and Anais as well because they come in a 2 pack, and they are made out of a very breathable material.
It doesn’t really matter so much what it looks like, however, it should be something that can be duplicated exactly (we’ll get to that in a minute) so handmade blankies or blankies made in other countries are not always a good choice. Before giving it to your baby, sleep with it for a few nights yourself. This will make it smell like you. Babies are very sensitive to the smell of things, particularly things that smell like their mommy. Once you have done this, you can start to give it to your child ONLY at designated sleep times. This would include naps and bedtime. Your child will begin to associate the blankie with sleeping. Be sure to give it to your baby to hold as part of their bedtime routine, even while nursing or taking a bottle before bedtime and naps.
Blankie Stays Home
This is not an object that goes everywhere with your child. It stays in their room for sleeping time. This helps with the association with sleep as well as for easy location when it is time for bed. When your child is older and running all over your home, it is easy for blankie to end up anywhere and then there is a mad dash all over the house to find the security blanket. There are only a few places that our blankie goes outside the house. The doctor, when my kids were really little and needed extra comfort, is one. The other is in the carry-on bag of luggage when we go on an airplane — because its not worth the risk of losing a beloved security blanket in your luggage.
Need some sleep training advice?
Read: Start Sleep Training — Free Resources You Can Use Now
Buy Two Identical Security Blankets!
Once your child becomes sufficiently attached to their security object, it is a good idea to get an exact replica so that it can be washed every once in a while or for the dreaded occasion when it is lost.
Please note that the replica must be EXACT. Even if it looks mostly the same, except maybe the color is a little different, don’t expect that your child won’t catch on. Children are very observant, especially when it comes to something as important as their blankie. Also, be sure to keep them in the same condition. Your child will know if suddenly their blankie looks much cleaner and smells quite different. Hopefully these instructions will help your children feel safe and secure in their beds and sleep many long hours, giving you, and everyone else, the sleep you need. Sweet dreams…
Guest Post by Linda Szmulewitz