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security blanket

Is a Security Blanket a Safe Attachment for a Child?

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.

Karlyn Bishop

Karlyn Bishop

Karlyn Bishop is the proud mommy to little Oliver and wife to hubby. She is a resident of Laguna Beach and a big player in the web's large social media circle.

10 comments

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  • My sister had a security blanket when she was a child and is one of the smartest, most independent woman I know! I still remember her running around with the thing.. it looked like a tattered rag! LOL

  • I don’t think there is any harm in children being attached to certain objects. Eventually they all seem to grow out of it. My boys never did attach themselves to an object and it’s not because they were discouraged from doing so.

  • My son has his comfort blanket but most of the time, he is in our middle. We co-sleep together so I make sure that his blanket doesn’t go through his head.

  • My kids all had blankies that I took everywhere we went. Only one of them drug hers around the house with her as well. She’s married with an 8 year old child and she still has that raggedy blanket lol. I don’t see any harm in something that gives kids comfort.

  • My son had a blankie that he carried when he was little. I think it was a helpful tool in learning how to self comfort. He loved it the most at bedtime.

  • I never had a problem with this kind of thing, but I didn’t let them take it out and about with them. I wanted them to learn how to be away from it too.

  • Very interesting study. A main reason is because of how we are born and the comfort we all get. This is similar to something used for dogs to comfort them during a storm

  • I don’t think it’s harmful not even in the long run. It’s definitely safe and it’s something that helps our kids calm down, so why take it away from them, right?