It’s science: Your child’s favorite lovey (or blanket) fosters independence

Your child's "lovey" is way more than just a toy or a blanket—in fact, a lovey gives your little one emotional strength to grow and adapt.

transition objects and security blankets encourage independence
Bunnies by the Bay

Halfway home and the sad little cry from the back seat was loud and clear, "Mama! My 'draff!"

I knew I had to turn around. My little one's messy and mangled stuffed giraffe was worth the drive back. To go without this tattered token of security would mean tearful drop offs, sleepless afternoons and prolonged evenings spent offering various substitutions—other stuffies and blankets, even books—that could not replace this one chosen and cherished random recipient of my kid's devotion. Having their lovey in their arms was worth every effort of the retrieval.

The blankets, bears and soft items children adopt and carry with them are what psychologists call transition objects. Chosen by your child to provide comfort and predictability, transitional objects represent your child's feelings for and experience of *you*. But don't worry, mama, your child's transition object is not a replacement for you, but instead a positive indication of your healthy maternal–child bond that enables growth and development—and helps them become more independent.

Your child's ability to separate from you begins by first clinging to you, and then to a rendition of you that provides the continuity of soothing, comfort and closeness you've given them. Your child uses their transition object to preserve and internalize this sense of security so they can more easily make the emotional transition from dependence on you to independence from you.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a transition object can be an important source of emotional support for your child.

Not only does a transition object communicate your affection when you are not present, it can also serve as a foundation for emotional regulation, acting as an attachment figure that empowers your child with a sense of comfort and security to cope with your absence. From day care goodbyes to bedtime goodnights, in these moments a soft lovey like a blanket or bear can be faithful companions, fortifying your child against the short-term separation anxiety that must occur to meet their long-term need for more independence.

By offering security and fostering independence, a transition object helps your child move through different stages in life.

Transitional objects have the capacity to give your child the reassurance they need and rely on to feel grounded enough to explore. Meeting their short-term need to cope with separation is key in tackling the long term need to move toward autonomy. Ethnologist and founding father of psychoanalytic anthropology, Dr. Géza Roheim believed that with a sense of security, children feel safe enough to take the small risks that help them feel confident and unafraid to take larger risks as they explore and grow.

Although most kids keep their transition object through their preschool years, it's completely normal if your child shows no sign of giving it up beyond then.

In a study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers found that about half the children studied formed an attachment to an object in infancy, and then about half of those kids kept it until age 9. Other studies indicate that children who were emotionally attached to a transition object appeared to mature and adjust like other children.

But if your child doesn't seem to show a preference for a particular stuffie, lovey or blanket, that's nothing to be concerned about. Research has also demonstrated that not having a transition object has no significant bearing on behavioral problems in adolescence.

Bottom Line: There's a reason why your child is so fiercely attached to their lovey—this comfort object stands in for you, mama, the first and most important relationship that they have throughout their lives.

[Editor's note: According to AAP, for safe sleep, if your child is under 12 months of age, blankets should stay out of the crib—whether your baby is playing or napping. Blankets can increase the risk of smothering, strangulation, suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The only thing that should be in the crib at night is your child. But if your child must have one when it is time to sleep, according to Dr. Harvey Karp, for the first 12 months, the only safe lovey is a pacifier and white noise—an "auditory lovey."]

We've curated the softest, sweetest loveys in the Motherly Shop. Check out some of our favorites:

Bunnies by the Bay Piper sandpiper

Bunnies by the Bay Piper sandpiper

Teddy bears are great and all, but this charming little guy with his spindly legs and fuzzy blue fur makes a very fun companion.


Bunnies by the Bay wee nibble bunny

Bunnies by the Bay wee nibble bunny

Heirloom quality and buttery-soft, this classic bunny is perfectly sized to be tucked under your little one's arm and taken along for a lifetime of adventures.


Mary Meyer putty fawn lovey

Mary Meyer putty fawn lovey

With an easy-to-grab under-stuffed body and luxe minky fabric, this adorable fawn is ideal for little hands. Even better? It's totally machine-washable.


Mary Meyer putty elephant character blanket

Mary Meyer putty elephant character blanket

With a silky lining and deliciously soft fur, this blanket-style lovey is as soothing as it is sweet.


Mary Meyer Hammie the pig

Mary Meyer hammie the pig

We love the high-quality loveys from Mary Meyer whose scraggly fur and hand-embroidered details make them feel extra special. Hammie the pig, with their jaunty handkerchief and kissable little face is no exception.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Create a school-ready capsule wardrobe for your kids

Dress for success whether virtual learning or in the classroom!

Tina Meeks for Motherly + H&M

Going "back to school" this year may be less of a literal statement than in years past—but there is just as much reason for your kids to celebrate moving on to new grades. Just like in every new school year, a big part of the fun is refreshing your kids' wardrobe with clothes that allow them to express themselves.

Even if finding back to school clothes this year doesn't include a trip to the mall, you can still make an event of it by shopping H&M's kids collection from your computer. Pull up another chair for your shopping buddy and get the cart started with these fave capsule wardrobe options we've already scouted.

Here are our favorite picks:

A t-shirt made for play

H&M t-shirt

Call them essentials, not basics. A graphic t-shirt aces the test when it comes to being perfect for school. And because your little student will probably want to wear something that expresses their personal style as often as possible, it's great to know the shirts can stand up to school time, playtime, downtime and everything in between!


Dressed-up casual shorts for total comfort

H&M boy shorts

Whether pulling up a chair for a virtual meeting with the class or heading back to the school for in-person learning, some comfortable, yet stylish, shorts will help your kid focus on the real tasks at hand: learning—and having fun while doing it!


Layers for when seasons change

H&M sweatshirt

When it comes to feeling comfortable at school, layers are the MVPs. Whether the AC is blasting or the day started off cool and is warming up quickly, having a unique sweatshirt to shed or add will help your kid look cool while staying warm.


A bit of flair with distressed denim

H&M distressed jeans

A school staple for generations, denim is both classic and continually fashionable with updates like distressing and new wash colors. If you're shopping online for jeans this year, take note of H&M's generous return policy—your kids can try on the orders at home and return anything that doesn't fit without a trip to the store.


A fashion statement piece

H&M girls skirt

What's better than expressing yourself through a stylish outfit when school is back in session? Still feeling perfectly comfortable and ready to tackle anything the day holds while looking so good. With so many fashion-forward looks available at budget-friendly prices, H&M's children's collection means every kid can find an outfit that speaks to them.


Some comfy kicks

H&M boys shoes

A sure way to put a little pep in your child's step this year, cool and cozy shoes are a staple on all back-to-school shopping lists for good reason. (Plus, it's fun to compare them to last year's shoes to see how much your kid has grown!)


Anything-but-basic blouses

H&M girls blouse

Whether in the classroom or showing up for a video call with the class, a styling blouse or button-down shirt is a great way for your student to comfortably dress up the day. Better yet? Style doesn't have to come at the expense of comfort with so many made-to-move tops designed just for kids.


A shirt ready to go whatever the day holds

H&M boys shirt

With "going to school" meaning anything from showing up in the classroom to doing a virtual session, it's important to have clothes that are perfect for anything the day holds. A classic, cotton shirt with a fashion-forward design is a great way to keep your student feeling ready to start the year with an A+ attitude.


This article was sponsored by H&M. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

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My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

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