Is a Security Blanket a Safe Attachment for a Child?

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My son loves his security blanket. It was one of the first things I purchased for him. So he’s pretty much had it since he was born.

This blanket has been everywhere my son has ever traveled. It’s been to England, Ohio, Florida, Las Vegas … wherever he’s going to spend the night, it will surely go with him.

security blanket or security toy

See the resemblance?

After many washes (probably hundreds by now), the poor thing has turned into a tattered piece of rag. Still, the little guy looks for it before he sleeps or when he’s ready to snuggle into his rest mode on the couch.

My husband and I notice our son fiddling with his blanket while he sleeps. Whatever he’s dreaming about, he seems to still find a way to include the touch of his blanket with it.

We’ve sometimes wondered if this need for a security blanket is going to have a negative effect on him someday just as most experts try to tell you how pretty everything else could. What could it possibly do to his future or ability to move on as a future adult?

An Expert’s Message About the Security Blanket Situation

So I’ve started to do a little research, but before that asked an expert about her thoughts regarding the security blanket situation. Here’s what psychologist, Sally O’Reilly has to say:

“Way back in the 70s, security blankets and other comforters were thought of as ‘bad’ and retarding the development and independence of children. More recently though, psychologists have come ‘round to realising that in fact the opposite is true.

Security blankets are a useful tool to help the infant learn to individualize, to recognise that they are separate from their parent, but that the parent is going to return. They can become a symbol for mom, and so, for nurturing and comfort.

Children self soothe with their security blankets. And so the ‘blanky’ becomes associated with good feelings, it smells of mom, it’s soft and warm and comforting, like mom, and usually signals the eventual return of mom.

security blanket

Experts have measured stress responses (sweat and blood pressure) and found that infants and small kids, EVEN ADULTS respond to comforters with reduced physiological stress. Therefore, it’s a real thing. In fact, a large hotel sponsored study in the UK found that 35% of adults regularly sleep with cuddly toys, 50% still own them.

We all like to wrap up in snuggly things when we’re upset. We like pets and when we stroke them our stress hormones reduce. It’s an extension of comfort blankets.”

A Note from Dr. Sears

According to Dr. Sears, a “blanky” can help children sleep when they’re in unfamiliar places. They also cause “no emotional or physical harm.” He further points out that the children who are the most secure in the world are those who aren’t weaned from the things they are most attached to.

My son calls his blanky “special blanket.” Whenever he’s tired or have some sort of temper tantrum due to some emotional situation he’s going through, his special blanket seems to be the one thing that calms him down. That and a little cuddle and song from mommy.