Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Linus Van Pelt

Hannah slept through the night.  *angelic choir sings*

Chris said, "That was the best night's sleep I've had in months!"
And I said, "Where is my pump?!!!"

Hannah woke up shortly after, nursed and went with dad to play in the living room while I got dressed. 
A few minutes later Hannah walked back into the bedroom, barely paying any attention to me.  She walked straight to the nightstand, grabbed one of her blankets and toddled back to the living room.  She kept it close by the rest of the morning. 

I left for work and as closed the door behind me and heard Hannah crying  "Maw! ...  Maw!!", I began to wonder when, developmentally, children begin to form an attachment to items such as a 'blanky'.

Thanks to Google, Wikipedia, and a few scientific journals, I know a little more about the subject.

It turns out that blankies or 'security blanket' (which is what I search for) is actually called a transitional object. 

A security object can give a child both emotional and tangible comfort, especially during times of stress. When going to sleep or being read a story, these security objects can have a calming effect on children. They can also be helpful in a separation from the parent. The object reminds them of the parents; therefore, it calms them by giving them a peace of mind.

For more about the psychological role of a transitional item:
"Later on the child comes to realize that the mother is separate from him through which it appears that the child has lost something. The child realizes that he is dependent on others and thus he loses the idea that he is independent, a realization which creates a difficult period and brings frustration and anxiety with it. In the end it is impossible that the mother is always there to ‘bring the world’ to the baby, a realization which has a powerful, somewhat painful, but constructive impact on the child.
Through fantasizing about the object of his wishes the child will find comfort. A transitional object can be used in this process. ... These could be real objects like a blanket or a teddy bear, but other ‘objects’, such as a melody or a word, can fulfill this role as well. This object represents all components of ‘mothering’, and it means that the child himself is able to create what he needs as well. It enables the child to have a fantasized bond with the mother when she gradually separates for increasingly longer periods of time. The transitional object is important at the time of going to sleep and as a defence against anxiety."  (Wikipedia)

The term security blanket was popularized in the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles M. Schulz, who gave such a blanket to his character Linus van Pelt. The most common popular name for such a blanket is blanky – sometimes banky, if a child has not acquired the ability to pronounce complex onsets.  It was revealed that people who sleep with comfort blankets are in fact more independent than those who don't. The theory is that children who use a comfort blanket are more likely to detach themselves from their parents because of the increase in security which the blanket provides.

I have to admit that, having not used a security blanket late into toddler-hood, I don't have a first-hand understanding of the importance it might play to a child.  Instead I have this fear of Hannah toting around a ripped dirty blanket that I can only wash while she sleeping (after I pry it out of her hands).  I imagine the battle of wills whenever we've left home without it and we're trying to decide if we need to turn back and get it.  And then I flash to images of getting ready for prom and having to urge Hannah to leave blanky at home... *shudder*

But seeing Hannah carrying around the blanket this morning was so cute and endearing, and now knowing just how much it might help calm her while I'm at work and how independently minded it might encourage her to be, I'm okay with accepting a future blanky as a member of the family.

... As long as I can wash it once a week.


  1. beautiful! it is totally developmentally appropriate :) I'm so glad you did the research and posted this! :) I think so many parents (especially parents of boys) don't like this behavior...I hope this changes their minds! And Hannah is just so cute! :) can't believe how big she is!
    -YT, cre8ive2noend ...Brittany :)

  2. This is great. Eden has recently (at 19 months) become attached to her teddy bear and I think it has been great for her transition to her new nursery. Her night time sleep pattern has improved too. I hope it helps Hannah - it is a little step towards independance :o)

  3. Sophie has a blankie. She started her love affair with said blankie "late" in life... only about 2 months ago - just about the time I started getting really pregnant and less interactive. At first, we fought it, but then we realized it was harming no one and she doesn't take it everywhere (doesn't go out with us), so really? What is the harm?

    There is one little bit of harm. The blanket (and yes, she has a strong attachment to just ONE specific blanket) is her comforter from her nursery bedding set. It is not sold on its own. The set costs $179. *gulp* We are terrified of a blankie related disaster b/c, sorry Sophia, we aren't replacing the exact one.


    Wonderful post! I love the pictures! =)

  4. All 4 of our kids had blankets. And youngest even has a blue one like Linus he calls "lovey" and he is 5 & still adores it. Must run in the family gene pool. ;0)

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