24 Jul When Is It Safe to Give Baby a Lovey
Sleep stands out as a primary concern for any parent with a new baby. In particular, many moms and dads feel desperate for a way to get their baby sleeping well without their constant assistance. That is where the lovey comes in.
A lovey is a soft transitional object to aid in sleep. The “transition” refers to the fact that the object comforts the baby in place of the parents. Some loveys take the shape of animals while others are nothing but a shred of muslin. But how early is it safe to give your baby a lovey? The answer is, unfortunately, not very.
According to the guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the only safe way for a baby under age one to sleep is alone, on their back, in a product labeled as a crib, bassinet or play yard. The “alone” portion means that nothing at all should be in the bed with the baby, except a pacifier. This means that any lovey, no matter how small, will not make the cut.
Infants face two major risks when it comes to sleep. First, there is a suffocation or strangulation hazard. Babies can become entangled in loose blankets or trapped beneath. They cannot move their heads easily to get out of a life-threatening situation.
The other risk is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This refers to the unexplained death of babies under age one. Scientists do not know the cause, but they have studied the risk factors. Objects in the crib are considered a SIDS risk.
What To Do Before Age One
Sleep-deprived parents of infants have a few options. Letting their baby fall asleep in the crib will help make it a comforting place associated with rest. Instead of nursing and rocking to sleep, putting the baby down while drowsy but awake can help them sleep for longer stretches.
Pacifiers are the only object approved for use while babies sleep, and they are extremely soothing. They help babies get to sleep, but some babies will cry out to have them replaced a few times per night. They can be difficult to wean or cause problems for toddlers too. The good news is that pacifier use helps reduce the risk of SIDS, so this comfort object is a safe choice.
A tightly fitting fitted sheet is safe for infants under one. Before making the baby’s bed, mom can try putting the sheet under her shirt for ten to twenty minutes. This way it will pick up her scent, which is highly comforting to babies.
Introducing a Lovey to Older Babies
After age one, babies are no longer at risk for SIDS. Loveys are generally safe to introduce, though it is not yet time to introduce blankets and pillows. Blankets should wait as long as possible, and not be introduced before eighteen months. Pillows are not considered safe until age two, and even then, parents are advised to use a small, very firm pillow. Keep in mind any strangulation or suffocation hazards when choosing a lovey.
Loveys can be a very special addition to your older baby’s sleep routine. They can provide a great source of comfort to babies who are learning to sleep with less and less parental assistance.
Look for super-soft fabrics in calming, muted colors. Little animal loveys are very attractive to babies, who enjoy looking at their faces. Use the scent trick we mentioned about the sheets on the lovey too. Mom can sleep with it in her shirt for a night or two before introducing it.
You may have noticed that your little one already has a special soft toy. If your baby has adopted a lovey of his own already, go with that option.
Kids Love their Loveys
Take note: children build strong attachments with their loveys and can be traumatized by their loss. We recommend having a rule that the lovey stays only in the crib, to avoid this. This will also help keep it clean so you can avoid washing it, which wears it out.
The best thing about loveys is they never have to be weaned. Your child can sleep with it until he is in high school if he chooses!