How to introduce a comforter to your baby

Recently, we were at a coffee/gift shop and our 16 month old Hazel picked up a soft teddy head with a little blanket attached to it (a comforter). Before we knew it, she was sucking on its ears and had drooled all over it - clearly claiming this toy was now hers.

So of course, we bought it because let’s be honest - who wants to put that back on the shelf for the next person to buy haha. I know it sounds stupid but I think it was fait that she picked that thing up off the shelf.

For the 2 weeks prior, Hazel had been crying going down for both her naps and at bedtime. Hazel normally settles really happily in her cot and something was clearly going on in her little world to cause this unsettledness at sleep time.

Around 15/18 months of age - our little one’s can become ‘clingy’ and experience some ‘separation anxiety’.

Why? At 8/9 months - babies start to understand that when an object or person disappears from sight that they still exist - otherwise known as ‘object permanence’. At 15/18 months they develop this understanding further and begin to link that you may not return at all or that they’re not sure when you will return when you disappear from their sight.

Hazel has never had a comforter or a dummy (not for any particular reason, we just hadn’t found she needed one!) and after a couple of weeks of her fighting her sleep - it twigged, we could try offering her a comforter!

For a few days, she had actually been stuffing the teddy comforter into her cot anyway!! One day I was getting her ready for her lunch nap and popped her in her sleeping bag. She was playing with the teddy comforter and didn’t want to give it up. So I just popped her down in her cot with the comforter, said ‘sleepy time Hazel’ like I always do and left the room.

And you know what happened? ZERO tears and she fell asleep within 10-15 minutes. The same thing happened at bedtime, ZERO tears and she was asleep quickly, back to her old self. Win!

For the past week, she has been using the comforter and honestly, it’s been a total game changer to support her through this patch of feeling a bit sad at sleep time. She hasn’t protested at all with sleep since we gave her the comforter. I’m now a raving fan of comforters - i’m converted!

So, maybe you’re wondering whether you should offer your baby a comforter? Maybe! There are a few things to chat about first…

  1. Comforters are not recommended for babies under 7 months of age (Red Nose Safe Sleeping Guidelines).

  2. Buy 2-3 of the same comforter incase one goes missing or you need to wash it (which I assure you, you will need to do - they end up smelling pretty nasty!).

  3. You might like to introduce a comforter for your baby around 8/9 months or 15/18 months if they’re experiencing some separation anxiety.

  4. As your baby gets older (12m +), it can become a fun game to throw the comforter out of the cot to get you to come back in and give it to them. Return it to them once, but after that - I wouldn’t recommend continuing to return it as it’ll become their new fav game.

  5. If your baby is feeling a bit unsettled at bedtime or nap time, do a longer wind down routine than usual. Read an extra book or two, have some cuddles - fill up their love cup.

  6. A more hands on, in room settling method can be a great option during these times.

  7. For a few days, pop the comforter down your top or in your bed so it smells like you. Offer it to them to play with/connect with during the day. After 3-7 days, offer it to them at nap time, then bedtime and see how they go :)

  8. Not all babies will form a connection with a comforter and they may just not be that interested in it. That’s okay! It’s not essential to have one, it’s just an option. You can always re-offer it months later if you want to try again.

Jazz is an Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She is a Mum and has over 10 years experience working as a Midwife, Nurse and Maternal and Child Health Nurse.

Having issues with your little one’s sleep and settling? Book in a free 15 minute phone consultation with Jazz to find out about sleep support options.

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