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Toddler Talk: Lovies

“Wait!” cried my 2 ½ year old daughter frantically at bedtime. She slid out of bed and ran down the hallway in her footie pajamas to another room. I wandered down the hallway following her escape path. A few second later, she emerged from the other room triumphantly holding her favorite stuffed puppy dog, smiling. “Poochie sleep too!”

Stuffed animals, blankets, and other favorite soft objects are common obsessions for toddlers and young children. These objects of affection are very helpful for bedtime or naptime, especially if you are trying to wean your toddler from the pacifier or trying to get her to sleep on her own. They are especially beneficial when your child needs to sleep in a new place, like a hotel room on vacation or when visiting relatives overnight. Anytime your child may need some familiarity and comfort, these objects of affection can make a big difference. I often see young patients clutching their favorite stuffed animal when coping with stressful situations like visiting me at the doctor’s office.

Remember that when you take the toy out of your home and into various settings, the object will be exposed to lots of germs and viruses. Be sure to wash it thoroughly in hot water on a regular basis! My children have learned that as soon as we return from a trip, all the stuffed animals and pillows that we took with us need to be washed before they can be used at home.

Having a backup favorite animal or blanket is important too. Any parent who has experienced the “lost lovie” can vouch that having a duplicate or alternate option can avoid massive meltdowns and perhaps some sleepless nights! Train your child early to have many options for comfort and it will make things easier for everyone down the road.

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