You’ve probably seen a toddler out at the playground or in church with a security baby blanket. You may smile and think it’s cute or you might wonder why the mother and father don’t take the blanket away from an older toddler. He’s not a baby anymore, right? Does he really need to take that blanket everywhere?
Surprisingly, experts say that toddlers should be allowed to have security blankets if they want them. Security blankets can be a source of comfort for a toddler or a baby who can’t otherwise talk or make their requests known.
There are no health or developmental risks associated with the use of security baby blankets. Starting from when babies are first swaddled up in blankets at the hospital when they are born, blankets can bring comfort and soothe a crying baby. The warmth and coziness associated with a blanket can often stand in for mom when a child is separated from her, whether she’s a room away or away at work. Small babies need to be swaddled to keep them warm, and also to keep them from flailing their arms around and scratching themselves.
Older babies should not be left alone in their cribs with blankets due to suffocation risk. They can certainly play with their favorite blanket on the floor or in the playpen when they are being supervised.
As children grow older, their need for the blanket changes from a desire for warmth to a desire for reassurance. As long as their blanket is nearby, they can face the first day of playgroup or meeting a new friend. Some children never take to the idea of a security blanket, while others demand to have a favorite blanket with them at all times. Beware to the mom who tries to take the blanket away to wash it! Children who love their security blankets are reluctant to give them up for any reason, even if they are covered in mud. So most parents wash their child’s blanket while the child is sleeping.
Many parents worry that their children are going to be made fun of if they carry a security blanket after a certain age. What is that age? Is a two-year-old too old to carry a blanket? A three-year-old? Who can say?
Experts agree that if the child is entering school, it’s probably best to wean them off their blanket slowly. This can be difficult especially if their blanket has been their best friend. A parent can start asking for the blanket to be left at home during short trips to the grocery store, and then longer and longer trips until the child is finally able to board the bus for Kindergarten without his blanket.
There is nothing wrong with allowing a child to have his favorite security blanket. It’s a way for the child to deal with stress, uncertain circumstances like divorce, and many other issues that children deal with every day. The blanket may be their best source of reassurance that everything is going to turn out ok. The only time to begin to be concerned is if the child is about to head off to school where blankets aren’t allowed or he’s reached the age where other children may tease him about it.
Ask your pediatrician for advice if the baby blanket situation is getting out of hand in your house. She can offer suggestions that will allow your child to comfortably and slowly give up their attachment to their blanket. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Also, don’t feel like you did something wrong if your child is older and still wants his blanket. You can always arrange for your child’s blanket to be waiting for him when he returns home from school and to stay on his bed until he’s much older and no longer wants it. You can also make the blanket into a pillow or include it as part of a robe so the child can keep it forever.
Security blankets can be wonderful stress relievers for children. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor and you and your child will be more at ease.