Loveys. Pacifiers. Sucking of thumb. Just a few examples of what's known as a security object. A security object is there to give your little one a sense of security and comfort while you aren't there with him. The sucking, holding, grabbing, smelling, squeezing of whatever that object is brings a sense of security and enables the child to self-soothe and self-settle without relying on someone.
It's suggested to introduce a security object to your little one as soon as you can. The more you expose your child to it, the greater the chances he will take to it and then will have it when you are doing the sleep training. As far as which one? Below I list the different kinds with the pros/cons of each.
Pacifiers are great for newborns as the sucking really relieves the fussiness. The issue with pacifiers is that until your child can re-plug on his own in the middle of the night, you will have to do it for him. The pincer grasp comes around 9 months, and until then your child will depend on you to re-plug. The good thing about pacifiers, as opposed to thumb-sucking, you can limit/control when he has the pacifier as well as remove it at a later point.
Contrary to the pacifier, the thumb (or fingers) are always accessible to your child. This makes self-soothing really easy for your child to do at any point during day or night. He will be able to decide when he needs to suck to soothe himself and when not to and not rely on you. The issue with this is that you can't remove/stop your child from sucking his thumb. While it is possible at a later age to have him stop sucking his thumb (just like the pacifier), until then he will be able to do it at any point.
Blankets are most often used as security objects. Often times it's the special one grandma made or the soft one a friend gave us. With blankets you want to make sure that they are safe, first and foremost. Sometimes they are too big or too thick which can be hazardous. You also want to make sure that if it is a special blankie that you can get more of the same kind. Because if we lose the one, well then what?
Loveys are small little blankies often with something attached- like an animal. They are often small and light, but very soft and cuddly. These are a "newer" version of the blankie, and often less hazardous as they are smaller and lighter than a blanket.
Regardless of which security object you choose to give your little one, please remember the following:
- Must be safe and not hazardous that can cause suffocation or strangulation.
- Purchase 3-4 of the same kind, so you have backups in case you leave one on the plane!
- Make sure you rotate them, so they are all equally "used" at all times.
- When introducing the security object try to perhaps sleep with it or hold it while feeding so the object attracts some of your familiar smell.
- Keep on introducing it to your baby. It takes more than 1 day for your child to get attached to it.
Be advised that the AAP does not recommend anything in the crib under the age of 12 months. Choosing a security object for your child is a personal decision. Please always make sure that it is safe for your child.