When he was a baby, my youngest brother rubbed an earlobe for comfort? his own or one nearby.
Even if he was sitting next to a stranger in church, my brother would sometimes reach up for an unknown ear. Of course, the advantage was that his soothing object was never misplaced. And any parent who?s spent hours searching for a lost blankie or a child?s favorite teddy bear knows that an attached comfort object is a real plus.
Although the idea of comfort objects seems to convey dependency, the opposite is true. When your child attaches himself to a favorite toy or pillow, he?s actually taking a first step toward independence. According to psychologists, comfort objects are healthy attachments formed by children who tend to be emotionally sensitive. For your baby, that pacifier or well-loved Winnie-the-Pooh represents you and the security and comfort you provide. The difference is that your child has control over the pacifier and is able to use it when you?re not available. This enables him to become less dependent upon you as he gets older.
Experts encourage parents to accept and support a child?s connection with a comfort object. "It?s an emotionally healthy development," says physician Michael Flanagan. "Your child is establishing her independence in a progressive way and his blankie facilitates his growth."
Comfort objects also provide babies with a piece of what?s familiar when they face a new situation. For many babies, a blanket is the favored object. That blanket then becomes a valuable aid when he needs to adjust to an unfamiliar church nursery or learn to sleep in a new crib.1