Loveys can be an amazing tool to help your little one settle more easily, resettle themselves at night when they are ready to, and manage separation with less distress. And we all know kids who adore their particular thing - many of us remember (or still treasure!) our own from childhood.
Parents often assume that children will spontaneously develop an attachment to a particular toy and while that does sometimes happen, unfortunately, it’s often not the case. Especially for breastfed babies, it seems that sometimes they are resolutely set against it!
Here’s how you can introduce a lovey a bit more intentionally to increase the likelihood that they’ll take to it.
Give it your smell. Sleep with it in your own bed (unless you are bed sharing with a child under 12mo), or tuck it into your bra for a few days.
Introduce it to your baby just before you settle them to sleep. Speak lovingly about it and point out what is nice: “Oh, look at bunny! Her ears are so soft, I love stroking her tummy.”
Keep them tucked between you and baby as you settle them, and show the lovey some affection - stroke it, kiss it. You can even gently stroke your baby’s face with it (if they seem to like that) and make sure the lovey is within reach (or even better, in your little one’s hand) as they fall asleep.
If they are younger than 12 months, remove it after they fall asleep - for safe sleep they need to be in a clear sleep space for unsupervised sleep. After 12 months, you can start to leave it in with them after they fall asleep.
Continue this process of active, intentional introduction for a good few weeks - probably 4-6 weeks.
Sometimes, little ones don’t seem to be fussed at all but suddenly display a strong attachment when they need it - eg when they are left at a childcare setting. So don’t despair if it doesn’t seem to be “working.” Just stick with it, keep the lovey around and included at settling times, and you never know when the magic might happen!
Major important tip is to BUY TWO of whatever you condition (and ideally, keep swapping them in and out so they both pick up smells and become similarly worn). As if you do manage to condition it to become important, losing it can be pretty awful!
Hope this helps - let me know how you get on!