There was a survey conducted by a major UK hotel chain a few years ago. They spoke to everyone staying with them and found that 35% of adults at their hotel still slept with a stuffed animal or other security item from their childhood (35% admitted it anyway!)
Can you believe that 25% of men questioned also said they took their teddy bear away with them when on business?!?
Although it was not the most scientific of surveys, it does suggest the use of security objects and comforters by adults is a lot more prevalent than we may have thought; and shows just how important and comforting they can be for us all.
Psychologist, Bruce Hood from the University of Bristol has conducted various studies into people's attachment to objects and he says he never lacks eager participants. "We've had no problem finding adults, especially females, who have their child sentimental objects with them," Hood said.
A 1979 study, by Richard Passman - a "psychologist and security object expert" from the University of Wisconsin at Wilwaukee found that 60% of children are attached to a blanket, toy or dummy during their first three years of life. During the first 5-6 years, both boys and girls have the same attachment, and this only changes when children reach school age and sadly it seems there's more social pressure on little boys to put away their soft toys.
For a long time in the 1970s, it was believed by psychologists that having these attachments to soft toys and baby comforters was in fact bad for the child, and that it showed some sort of failing by the child's parents; but research by Passman and others now contradicts this idea.
One study which was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 2000 found that children who took their baby comforters with them to the doctor's experienced far less distress, which was measured by lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Research has also shown that at about 9 months old, babies frequently become very clingy to their mother as they begin to realise they are individuals and not a part of her. A comforter seems to really help with this transition.
Studies have also shown that babies and toddlers who use a baby comforter are much more likely to sleep through the night than those without a comforter! This is because your baby will form an attachment to their comforter, and will then be able to use it to soothe themselves back to sleep. Self soothing is a technique which is essential for your little one to learn if she's to sleep through the night without calling out for you. And getting a good night sleep is beneficial for all of you, so a baby comforter can be a really good idea.
Every baby uses an aid of some kind to comfort himself just before he nods off. Unless these have been introduced by mum or dad, you're usually not aware of the techniques your little one may have adopted. Some babies suck their thumbs to fall asleep, others might hold onto their sheets or blankets, play with the labels or even the bars on their cot, until they drift off.
If your little one has a similar ritual to fall asleep it can be less than ideal when you are travelling and haven't brought the bedding/cot along with you. They simply won't be able to fall asleep; or you'll have a very interrupted night while away.
Introducing a baby comforter or baby comfort blanket to your little one gives you the flexibility to carry it around with you whenever your little one needs it and reduce stress for the whole family!
So what should you look for in a baby comforter?
1. Machine washable
If this baby comforter is going to become truly loved, it's also likely to become truly mucky; so you want something machine washable!
2. Easy to replace
Some recommend buying two comforters from the start, so you have a spare should one go missing, but as long as you can easily get your hands on a replacement you should be fine. Having two can allow you to rotate them while one is in the wash though!
3. No small parts
It's best to avoid a comforter which has buttons, or embroidery or loose parts which could come loose over time and be a choking hazard.
4. Don't get a hairy one & check the filling!
Avoid anything too fluffy. Long fur that your baby can pull out might lead to them accidentally inhaling it. If you desperately want a furry one. Pull at the fur a little to see how easily it comes away and avoid it if it does.
Avoid anything with bean fillings or anything that could come loose and pose a choking hazard.
5. We love organic
This baby comforter is going to become your little ones best friend for perhaps the next 5-6 years of their life. Not only should it look lovely, and be a pleasure for both you and them to carry, but with it being in such close proximity to them night and day, its best if you can choose a comforter made from organic cottons and organic dyes.