When Owen was tiny and we were establishing a strong bedtime routine, I introduced a “lovey”. When I say the word “lovey”, people of older generations (or those without children currently) look at me like I’ve gone loopy. You know, a blankie, a security blanket… except now we’ve learned that blankets can suffocate babies so most people use these little fleecey animals with bodies like a little blankie and knots for hands and feet. A lovey. Or, the term favored by behavioral psychologists, a transitional object.
Anyway, we were given about a million of them when Owen was born, but my mother gave me one very important piece of advice: ONLY CHOOSE ONE THAT YOU CAN BUY MORE OF. Don’t choose the super cute one that so-and-so brought back from Paris and you will never be able to put your hands on another one. Because all hell is going to break loose once your child falls in love with that lovey and then pukes on it in the middle of the night and you don’t have time to do laundry before he or she goes back to sleep. Trust me — it’s a key piece of advice. Thanks, Mom!
So I chose the one that I found the sweetest, and the one I knew I could find again in a heartbeat: The Pottery Barn Hippo. The first thing I did was sleep with the lovey for about a week so that it would smell like me. My mom group teacher suggested this for babies who were having a hard time transitioning out of sleeping in their parents’ room. Owen was not having any issues with that, but I figured anything that would give him comfort and help him sleep longer and more peacefully was worth a shot. Once I slept with it for a week or so, I started holding it between us while we nursed or he drank his bottle at night. This was during the time of all of our breastfeeding issues, and I know for a fact that that darling little lovey caught lots of tears in those first few weeks. From both Owen and I. As I laid Owen in his crib, I would nestle the lovey next to him so he could smell me and feel its softness while he slept. I don’t know if it was the lovey exactly, but you all know that Owen has a pretty awesome sleep record. I’ll give some of the credit to our dear little hippo friend.
Anyway, at that point, and even for the next few months, I continued to keep the lovey in the crib with Owen, but honestly I had no idea if he cared at all about the little blue thing next to him. Once Owen started being put down awake in his crib, I would hand him the lovey and let him cuddle it. Since he never took a pacifier, I think the lovey is his thing. Now, as soon as I hand it to him for bedtime or for a nap, he smooshes it all over his face, pops one of the “feet” in his mouth, and falls asleep with it laying across his face. Believe me, when he started doing this I would often come in and gently lift it off of his face, afraid he was going to suffocate. But he’s clearly strong enough and smart enough now to pull the thing off of his own face if it ever became an issue. And he likes it that way! Unfortunately I wonder if that contributes to his eczema issues… but I digress. Not gonna interfere with the lovey love.
Once Owen started daycare I sent his lovey in with him every day so that he would have something familiar to fall asleep with at naptime. After the first day that it was left at daycare, I realized we needed backups. Also, I realized how much I need to wash that slobbery, germy thing. Disgusting. So I ordered 3 more. Now we have one at daycare, one at home, one in the laundry and one clean at all times. Still, I wasn’t entirely sure if Owen really loved that lovey, or if I was just making a big deal out of it.
Then today, something adorable happened. I put Owen down for his morning nap as usual, handed him his lovey and let him wipe it all over his face. I went to take a shower. Once I got out of the shower I heard him sobbing big, heaving sobs. What? Haven’t heard him fuss at naptime in ages. I went in to comfort him and I found him laying on his stomach with his arm reaching through the crib slats for… his lovey. Who was on the floor. I’m not sure how he got there (I’m assuming he was pushed through the slats and not thrown over the top rail!), but Owen missed him. And loved him. And had to have him to sleep.
That’s lovey love.