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Comfort Habits: Security Blankets

A security blanket, or “cuddly” can be any soft piece of material or toy which a baby, usually six to nine months old, adopts as his very own. Psychologists dignify these bits of blanket or worn, smelly teddy bears with the name, “transitional comfort object.” They deserve the dignified name because cuddlies take on very real emotional importance for babies. They are their familiars — the things that spell safety and security when you are not there.

Babies use cuddlies in lots of different ways. If it’s a toy, your baby may always lie on it in his crib, placing it so that his face against it. If it’s a piece of material, he may tangle it between his hands and drop off to sleep, kneading it as he sucks his thumb.

Whatever your baby does with his cuddly, once he’s chosen it, it will be his most important possession. Try to insure against complete disaster by saving a duplicate. A newly adopted scarf could be cut in half. A soft toy could have another bought.

If your baby’s security blanket ever does get lost, producing the new one won’t entirely prevent grief, because it won’t look, feel or smell like the one that shared his crib for months, but it will be very much better than nothing, believe me.

Penelope Leach, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most respected (and best-loved) developmental child psychologists. She is most widely known for her best-selling books on child development and parenting. They include Babyhood, Children First: What Society Must Do — and Is Not Doing — for Our Children Today, the classic Your Baby & Child: From Birth to Age Five (now in a new edition for a new generation), and Your Growing Child: From Babyhood Through Adolescence.

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