There we were one Saturday, standing around the stove in the kitchen while my five week old daughter sat sleepily in her bouncy seat. My husband and I were being quite loud, chatting about our lives after a particularly busy week. The summer sun was shining brightly through the window, the construction trucks next door making a racket in the bustle of mid-day. Not the ideal sleeping situation for a baby who still missed the quiet of the cozy womb. My blue-eyed daughter had just begun to become truly distracted by the world around her, and I fully expected to have to leave my husband to drink his coffee alone in order to cuddle her to sleep.
Then the unexpected happened. Lily May had gently wrapped her tiny arms around the neck of her stuffed pink giraffe, her head nestled in close to its body, comforted to sleep by its closeness.
Though we hadn’t intentionally introduced one, Lily had chosen a lovey.
Fastforward to one month later, and we’re bumping along the mountain roads of Western Maine headed home from a state fair, our daughter screaming so hard that she began to hyperventilate. She hated riding in the car at night, and the three hour drive in the dark was not conducive to a happy baby. I spent the rest of the ride in the backseat with my child clutching my pinky for dear life, thinking that there had to be a solution that didn’t involve me leaving the passenger seat to collect dust for the next few years.
“Why don’t you give her the giraffe?” my husband suggested the next day. I doubted it would work, but decided to give it a try.
Like magic, our next nighttime drive was a dream compared to that drive back from the fair. Anytime Lily began to panic, she hugged her giraffe tightly and chewed on its nose, then happily fell asleep.
My sanity, and her peace of mind, were saved.
If your arms are weak from rocking and shushing your baby to sleep, maybe a lovey, a comforting and familiar object, is exactly what your tired little bundle needs to make that transition to self-soothing herself to sleep at night.
While Lily chose her first lovey all on her own, we chose several loveys to introduce to her in case her beloved pink giraffe went missing or was accidentally destroyed. As the oldest of seven siblings, I had seen too many stuffed animals get lost or fall in toilets over the years to rely on just one.
But how do you select a lovey, anyway?
The best loveys have a few qualities that aid in the comfort of your baby in the middle of the night. They are soft, quiet, and cozy, and generally small enough that baby can’t get tangled in it while still being large enough to find in her crib in the dark.
For example, one of our favorite loveys is Hosanna, a rabbit from Mallet Made’s Shop. We bought this lovey for our daughter for her first Easter, and it quickly became a loved addition to her crib. This sweet bunny is soft to the touch, and its blanket-like body makes it easy for Lily to rub her cheek with it in the middle of the night.
You also want to consider selecting a lovey that will be durable enough to last through the years. A lovey becomes a familiar friend that the child will hold on to as they grow. My seventeen-year-old sister still has her childhood lovey sitting on a shelf in her bedroom today. Because your child will be sleeping next to and (in the early years) likely chewing on it as well, you want to be sure that there are no loose pieces that your child can tear off that will become a choking hazard.
When you first introduce a lovey to your child, let her play with it during playtime, then after several days of playing with the new toy, you can give the lovey to your child in the car or while she is trying to fall asleep during naptime. Hopefully by then, your child’s lovey will be a familiar friend that will help her to self soothe herself to sleep.
What are some of your favorite loveys? Does your child have a lovey that she or he still holds on to? Drop a comment and tell us about it below!