You’ve decided it’s time to introduce a lovey to your little one. You even have one picked out that you hope your baby will bond with. You’re ready to get started, but wonder; how do you introduce a lovey to your baby?
Should you just place the lovey in the crib or in their stroller? How will baby know it’s for his or her security and comfort and that they should immediately fall in love with it? Is there even a method to this madness?
Fret not, mom and dad. I’ve got you.
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How to introduce a lovey to your baby
Pick out a lovey
For a small baby, 6 months or older, I would recommend a lovey that’s light, breathable and free of choking hazards. This style of lovey – little muslin blankets with satin trim – are my favourite for babies this age.
If you’re trying to decide on what kind of lovey to use, I’ve had success offering two different loveys to see which one they were drawn to most. Just because you think a specific lovey is cute and cuddly, it doesn’t mean your baby will. Therefore, if you’ve tried to introduce one lovey but your baby doesn’t seem to like it, go ahead and try something else after a few days.
Make it smell like you
Next, you’re going to want the lovey to smell like you. I suggest putting the lovey under your pillow for a day, or wearing it under your shirt for a few hours. Do this every now and then, and anytime it gets washed.
These Hoppa (formerly Peppa) bonding dolls are a great option because their head is stuffed with wool which will retain mom or dad’s scent. My son loves his; and I can confirm that they wash well and hold up to all sorts of toddler abuse! You can even pick one up in our shop.
Introduce the lovey
Introducing a lovey may take some time. Start by introducing the lovey at nap time or bed time and be a little silly while interacting with the lovey and your baby. Play peek-a- boo or have tickles, or cuddles, whichever is appropriate.
Next, you’re going to want to settle down for a story and hold your baby along with the lovey as you read. You can also sing a song to your baby while holding the baby and the lovey close, letting your baby feel safe and secure.
When it’s time to lay down, tell your baby “night, night” (or whatever your bedtime cue is) and lay the lovey down with him or her. If your little one ends up throwing their security item out of the bed/crib, no worries. If you’re in the room, you can put it back in the crib once, but I wouldn’t do it any more than that because you won’t want to be making a game out of it. Those silly babies love to do that!
Repeat this routine every time you put your baby down for a nap or bed. After a week or so, your baby will either attach to the lovey, or not. If not, try finding another safe plush animal or blanket from around your house that baby has an interest in and see if your baby will bond with it for sleep.
Eventually, your baby will always want to have their lovey around for bed and naps. It will help them feel safe, secure and comforted when you’re not there. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to do some sleep training or eliminating a pacifier.
Also, a lovey is a great sleep cue. If your baby needs to sleep outside of their crib (stroller, car seat, hotel), having consistent sleep cues makes the process easier. My first baby was great at taking naps in a stroller while we were out and about, even at a wedding. I’d give him the lovey and sing a short little song – the first sleep cue I started to do when he was an infant – and he would go to sleep within minutes.
Once your little squish has accepted the lovey as their comfort item, make sure you always have it available for naps and bedtime. Stressful situations are also a time when you might want to have the lovey around.
Pro tip: Always have a backup (s). You don’t want to be stuck with a missing lovey and a baby that won’t sleep.
With my kids, I generally tried to leave the lovey in the crib so that it was more or less associated with sleep. I also didn’t want my kids attached to a lovey all day long, dragging it everywhere they went. However, if they asked for it or took it out of their room on their own, then I wouldn’t make a fuss – I assumed they needed some extra comfort.
How to introduce a lovey to a one-year-old
If your baby is around a year old and you’re looking to introduce a lovey, I would suggest following the same steps outlined above with a few small modifications.
By a year, your baby may have already shown interest in a specific soft toy or blanket that would make a great lovey. You can use something from around the house, or get something new for the occasion.
Next, you’re going to want to go through the lovey introduction routine at bedtime and nap times. At this age you can have a bit more fun and be sillier when first introducing the lovey. Roleplay sleeping with the lovey and model using it to snuggle. Have the lovey sing a good night song (if it’s a stuffed animal); or with a blanket, you can softly brush it against their face and tickle their nose, ears and mouth with it.
Keep up with the routine of having the lovey with them at bedtime or naptime and hopefully within a week you’ll know whether or not you’ve found the right lovey for your baby.
How to introduce a lovey to a toddler
If you’re looking to introduce a lovey to a toddler, your reasons for doing so are likely a little different compared to parents wanting to introduce one to their infant.
Maybe your toddler is showing a few signs of anxiety, or maybe you’ll be away for an extended period of time and want them to have something for them to feel safe and secure. Or, maybe they’re getting ready for daycare and you want to send them with a little something from home.
Find a few familiar items from around the house and ask your toddler if there’s one they’d like to snuggle with at bedtime. Play it up and make it special. Take a trip to the store to get something new, or hit up a local shop online.
Once your toddler has his super special sleepy time buddy, explain how the lovey will keep him cozy and safe, something to cuddle if he’s feeling alone.
Have their lovey with them every time they nap or go down to sleep for the night. They may not bond with it immediately, but give it time.
Pro-tip – Pick a lovey that will wash well.
If you haven’t yet decided on a lovey, take a look at this blog post on picking out a safe lovey for your baby.
I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to make your baby feel more safe and secure with a cuddly lovey or security blanket. I’ve been surprised at how comforting my kids find their loveys, and happy that they’ve each found one that they love. Did you have a lovey as a child? Leave a comment and let me know 🙂