Chances are your child isn't going to his high school prom with his favorite "blankie" in tow. Yet as a toddler ages, parents often wonder when the right time to take away that special comfort object is.
Turns out many of us opt to let our children grow out of their need rather than force the issue. While specific approaches are as varied as parenting styles and children's personalities, the most recurrent theme among posts on this topic in various threads on Circle of Moms is: Don't rush your child into giving up the item that makes them feel safe.
This is true even when baby blankets are dragged through mud puddles by eager two year-olds and when oft-repeated squeezes have worn the fuzz off a beloved bunny.
"My daughter's favorite thing is her rag doll. She's two and won't go anywhere without it. When she can't find her she says, 'Alice?'" shares April J., also in the Toddler Moms community.
"There is nothing wrong with comfort items, they help toddlers self-soothe and help them feel secure when they are exploring," says Leigh C., whose 16-month son is attached to "Bunny VanGogh and his teddy bear Rupert."
For some kids, the need for a security item stays with them long past the toddler years.
Holly's oldest daughter, now 8 years old, still sleeps with a favorite blanket: "All my girls have their blankets," she writes. "My eight-year-old has to have her purple fuzzy blanket when she sleeps. She can sleep without it, but she doesn't sleep as well and she wakes up a lot if it's not there."
Amber P.'s son is also a blanket aficionado. She is trying to get him to accept other blankets.
"I am trying to ease him into using different blankets because I don't like fighting with him every time I need to wash it," she posts.
Holly can relate to that challenge. To convince her younger daughters to relinquish their favorite blankets, even briefly, she has to explain that "their blankies need a bath — just like people," and that they get washed in a special bath tub just for blankets. As she tells it: "Then I pick the kids up and they put their blankies in the washing machine themselves." Her girls help put in the "blankie shampoo" (better known to moms as laundry detergent). "Then they tell blankie to have a good bath and push the start button."
She admits it sounds ridiculous, but it works for her and it keeps her daughters from melting down when they don't have access to their comfort object for the duration of the wash cycle.
"It (has) cut out any blankie washing screaming," she reports.
Not all kids are attached to blankets. For some, the pacifier is the item they can't let go of well into the toddler years. Many moms are motivated to dispense with this habit because of the possibility that pacifiers can cause health issues. (For more on this, see 6 Tips for Pacifier Weaning and Thumb Vs. Pacifier: Which Is Better For Your Baby?)
Amber M. has an elaborate plan to end her daughter's pacifier dependency that involves a visit from "the pacifier gnome." Her friend is coming to her home dressed in costume to play the role of a gnome who will permanently remove the pacifier from her daughter's life. Her friend is going "to come and take her pacis from her to give to little babies who need them."
While some go to great lengths to end their child's relationship with a comfort items, many parents will go to great lengths to help their child maintain it. When Jennifer T.'s six-month old son's bunny blankie was left behind at a relative's home, "my husband had to drive 25 minutes to their house to retrieve it," she shares in the Toddler Moms community.
And for some moms, the ever-present comfort object makes for irreplaceable memories:
"We have to laugh when we look back at pictures from when he was one to around four years old," writes Irene K. about her now 12 year-old son's reliance on his Pooh Bear. "He (Pooh Bear) went on vacation with us, he went to restaurants, (and) church. Poor Pooh Bear has a stain on his shirt, chewed-on ears, and he's pretty beat up."
When you do feel it's time to draw the line however, many moms recommend a certain protocol. Sherri B. suggests leaving the bedtime comfort object ritual intact and starting out instead by setting limit on where these objects can travel during the day: "I do think it is okay to a tell a child that they may not take an object somewhere - like in a store, (or) church," she advises. "My boys have special places they leave their objects in the car. They feel big putting them in the special spots themselves."
Misty G.'s daughter's comfort item, her blankies, became helpful motivators of her participation in a more grown-up activity: "She planned our fire escape with a way to get her blankies out in case of a fire," she writes.
Then again, some of us just never outgrow our comfort items.
When I am ill or sad, the only place I want to be is snuggled up is underneath a bulky quilt that was hand-sewn by my Grandma Schutte.
Perhaps Keri R. can relate.
"You're going to hate me for this, but I have a comfort object and I'm 29," she posts in the Toddler Moms community. "It is a teddy bear I got for either Christmas or my second birthday. The fabric is thin and ripping, its arms have been sewn back on several times as has one of its eyes. I don't sleep with it anymore, but I'll die before I give him up."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.