There comes a point where every child needs a lovey, or they just won’t think about going to sleep. Many kids want to keep their lovey with them all the time, and get very possessive. When the lovey is missing, damaged, or dirty, you’re in big trouble.
I’m not talking about a mildly upset child. I’m talking about full on, face down on the floor, wailing on it with the arms. We’re talking about crying in bed and quivering in fear because <insert your kid’s name for their stuffed whatsit> isn’t there to keep them safe. Kids become very dependent on their lovey, whether we really want them to or not.
I have two kids, a 19-month old who has a white stuffed llama, and 4-year old with a stuffed kitty. They both need their stuffies. Inevitably, they get pretty gross: an ear tears, it falls in a muddy puddle, drool, etc. If the stuffie doesn’t need repairs & cleaning, it’s misplaced. Whether it’s at the park, forgotten in the backyard sandbox, or trapped behind a dresser, it doesn’t matter. The lovey is either missing or needs to be removed temporarily.
My wife & I learned that very quickly with our 1st son. Unfortunately, we didn’t think about how important the lovey would be until it was already too late. There was no sleeping without his kitty, even though she was at the “vet” for surgery to get her malfunctioning voicebox repaired/removed, and was due to go to the “spa” afterward for a cleaning. We ended up having to quickly re-sew the kitty and give her back, still-dirty, so he would sleep. We snuck the kitty away again the next day to run her through the wash.
Important Tips about your Child’s Lovey:
- Buy 2 or more identical stuffed animals. I recommend a crate of them, but you can usually get away with just 1 spare.
- If there’s a part attached by a couple threads (like the pumpkin in the image), clip them off before giving it to your child.
- Never let the child see them both together. They’ll need both if they do.
- Rough up & wash the spare stuffed animals before swapping out the 1st time. This way a stuffie doesn’t suddenly look “new”
- If you end up repairing one, “repair” the spare in the same way. The child will spot the difference and may reject or, even worse, name the replacement. Suddenly you’ll need twice as many spares, because they’ll still be demanding their lovey back.
- If you’re heading out, be sure to have the spare in your bag in case the original gets dirty. If it does, you use a wipe and pretend to clean the original, while actually swapping it for the spare.
- Encourage your child to tell its stuffie what’s scary. Let your kid know that the stuffie is there to help protect them from those things. This really cuts down on the number & duration of middle-of-the-night nightmare runs.
- If you can’t find the stuffie, they’re “shopping” and are just putting away their things. This will give you a chance to get the spare from wherever you’ve hidden it.
- Tell your kid stories involving their stuffie. Encourage them to draw the stuffie, write its name, etc. In addition to being their lovey, you can use the toy as a teaching tool, which can help with language, math, art, and other skills your child will need growing up.
There’s a tonne more that any Dad (or Mom) at Home could add to this list. If you’ve some important advice on how to take care of & use your child’s lovey, please send comment below or send us a message of Twitter or Facebook.