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.