Baby comforters are often a big part of a child’s accessories as a way to help them soothe. They are especially popular when children are going through bouts of strong separation anxiety. But are they necessary and are they helpful for sleep?
What are the best types of baby comforters?
Often infants choose their comforter naturally when they see something whilst out shopping, such as a soft toy or a cuddly teddy bear.
However, children often attach themselves to other types of comforters such as a blanket with their parent’s smell. They will just love the cosy, super soft nature of their comforter, soft toy, piece of clothing or whatever it is that your child likes. Their true comforter might also be a dummy / dodie.
If your little one actually lets you choose their comforter for them – and that’s not always the case – I would recommend a baby comforter than can easily be washed as it will get very dirty and need washed regularly.
You could also buy two identical comforters so that you can interchange them as necessary – anything other than identical and your baby will refuse their least favourite comforter!
Are comforters safe to use?
It’s important that your baby’s comforter does not have any loose string or ribbon which could be a choking or suffocation hazard, and you should not leave your child unattended with comforters or toys that have any loose parts.
Why would you use a comforter?
Comforters are a great way to help children have attachments and some extra independence from parents or caregivers as they will likely want to cuddle their soft toy.
Especially during times of separation anxiety, a comforter can allow parents the simple opportunity to go and make their child’s dinner or go to the bathroom without their child getting very upset.
Many families also use comforters to help their children sleep, though this is something I would advise against where possible.
Can a newborn have a comforter?
A newborn often likes to snuggle into a blanket or muslin that smells of their parent which would be fine as long as they are not left unattended with it or they are left to sleep with it.
Many parents often use a comforter to help their baby fall asleep but then take it away as soon as they fall asleep.
Again, I would recommend you avoid this because it can become a risk if you forget to remove the comforter and it can also become a dependency for your baby being able to sleep which can often lead to more night wakings.
Also, a newborn often doesn’t need any more comfort than the constant cuddles and love of their parents 🙂
Is a comforter or cuddly toy safe for sleep?
Whilst there is no evidence on specific items, the recommendation from HSE Ireland is that a clear cot is a safer cot.
Whilst many sleep consultants recommend the use of a comforter from 6 months, we don’t recommend anything in the cot for a baby under 12 months. We just don’t believe it’s safe and our focus at this age is on getting a baby to be able to settle on their own without comforters or the need for extra attachment – this is known as self-settling.
If you do use a comforter or toy in your child’s cot, you must make sure that the toy has no loose parts and that the comforter can’t stop your child from breathing.
Both of our toddlers have their cuddly toy but we gave them their ‘Gary The Giraffe’ and ‘Harry The Bear’ from when they were around 2 years old.
Should I use a comforter for sleep?
In our opinion, a comforter should not be in the cot of a child under 12 months old.
And whilst we believe that a comforter should not be used solely to assist an infant to get to sleep (our beliefs are around self-settling from a child), we also know that over the age of a year, a child shouldn’t really have any issues with waking up in the night looking for their cuddly toy or comforter as they have the movement and sense to find it.
They can be a great source of comfort for older children especially when they are going through separation anxiety, like during the 18 month sleep regression, or they are struggling with teething, and which parent didn’t have a soft toy as their best friend that went everywhere with them, including bed, when they were younger?
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