What To Do When Your Child Is Addicted To A Lovey

Maybe it started out as a baby blanket that you took home from the hospital, or an adorable teddy bear. But over time (and with much love and affection from your child), that simple object turned into their favorite possession on the planet. Now, your child takes their lovey everywhere that they go, from trips to the park during the day, to sleeping right next to them at nighttime. So how can you tell when your child is addicted to a lovey, and really, is it a bad thing?

It can be hard to believe that a tattered blanket or a one-eyed stuffed animal could be the object of your child’s obsession, but it happens all the time. “Loveys play a very important role in child development,” says Kimberly King, a child development specialist and educator. “Many babies have a lovey and it becomes an item of comfort and self- soothing.” And for many children, having a lovey can help provide comfort during times of transition. “When a child takes their lovey with them, it helps them with the transition from an environment that they are comfortable in to a new environment that might be a little scary for them,” says Rikki Goldenberg, LMHC, a children’s therapist in Boca Raton, FL. “It becomes the one thing that is consistent among all of the change that can be very overwhelming to a young child, especially one that may be experiencing fear or anxiety.”

If you find that your child’s fixation with their blankie or toy is too much, here are some ways to control the lovey overload.

  1. Have Rules for the Lovey

Although your child’s lovey might feel like a permanent appendage, it’s best if you try to limit the amount of times that your child takes it out with them. “Restrict where you take it and schedule time for the lovey,” advises King. And if your child does want to bring the object of their affection with them, try to leave it in the car on some occasions to help break the bond a little bit.

  1.  Factor In Your Child’s Age

For the most part, when a baby or even a toddler has an attachment to a lovey, it’s usually not a big deal. But when your child gets to be school age, it might be cause for concern.A severe attachment to a lovey past the age of five might be a red flag,” says King. “If the lovey is interfering with normal activities or tantrums begin, take note.” You might want to speak to your child’s pediatrician for advice on how to handle the situation.

  1. Replace The Lovey With Something New

If you find that your child is getting older (and their love for their lovey is only growing), you might want to try introducing a new activity that will slowly start to replace the lovey. For example, instead of tucking in your child with the lovey, read a second book instead or spend a little more time snuggling. Says King: “Sometimes a little bedtime redirection is all your little one will need.”

  1.  Give Extra Hugs

Much like its name connotes, a lovey offers your child a unique and loving bond. So why not try to give your kiddo some extra cuddles, too? “Kids love snuggles, time and affection from the people they love the most,” says King. “So don’t forget to put the phone down and snuggle up on the couch with a good book and spend lots of time with your child.” And then once you’ve begun the bedtime routine, you can start moving the lovey to its own special place (i.e. not right next to your child). You can tuck the lovey in a special place to sleep near the bed, or even move it to the nightstand for a few days. If  your child is addicted to a lovey, this can help ease the transition.

  1. Have A Back-Up

With so many trips to and from the car and all around the house, there’s a good chance that at some point the lovey will go missing. To avoid a potential meltdown (from both of you), it’s a good idea to have last-minute loveys that your child can use to snuggle with. “I highly suggest helping your child to choose a lovey that can be replaced when lost or damaged,” says Goldenberg. “For example, different versions of a specific animal or character or different plush toys that all make a rattle sound. You want to be able to have several options for the lovey in case that specific item is no longer in stock and your child loses it.” You might even want to rotate them so your kiddo doesn’t get attached to one specific toy or blankie.

When your child is addicted to a lovey, just know that it’s a very common part of your child’s development. It offers support and comfort to your kiddo, and is often a little piece of home that can go anywhere your child does. So let your child snuggle up with that tattered toy, or hug their battered blankie, and know that when it comes to a lovey, it’s really just a lovefest.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
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