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The Science Behind Baby Blankies, and Why Kids Crave Them

The Science Behind Baby Blankies, and Why Kids Crave Them Blog

When you hear the word “blankie,” the famous Peanuts character, Linus, may come to mind. His cartoon image is both literally and figuratively attached to his beloved blanket, and it trails behind him in an endless heap of comfort and dust. 

Linus is greater than a mere illustration. He represents the significant attachment that babies, toddlers, and even big kids can have to their possessions. 

These attachments offer far more than simple comfort. And despite the unwarranted stigma these items often receive, science says they are developmentally appropriate throughout childhood…and beyond. 

More Than Just a Blanket

A blankie falls under the umbrella of a “transitional object,” a term first coined by pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott nearly sixty years ago. 

Transitional objects help children cope with separation anxiety: the necessary stage of detachment that comes with individualization. 

“The young adult going off to college, with or without stuffed animals or scraps of a favorite old blanket, should be a reminder that the challenges of separation — and the consolations and complexities of attachment — are not developmentally confined to the first years of life.” - The New York Times

From weaning to preschool and, yes, even college, things that remind us of our parents and the safety of our homes are healthy outlets for scary, unknown frontiers. 

Science goes on to say that denying toddlers and kids these self-soothing items can be highly detrimental.

“The (transitional) object allows for and invites emotional well-being, and without such an object, true feelings may be concealed, suppressed, or dismissed as the infant/child has no other means by which to cope with, comprehend, and contend with the world.” - Psychology Today

It’s amazing that a soft, plush blanket—ultimately meant to promote sleep—can symbolize so much more. It’s an idea and item that should be embraced by all ages

Embracing the Blankie—Finding the Perfect Fit

While growing up does eventually mean letting go of certain things, we can’t deny our children every ounce of comfort. 

Dentists are already telling us to wean youngsters away from their pacifiers, bottles, and thumbs. 

Older children are already being told not to sleep alongside their parents or be afraid of the dark.

Truly, one of a child’s only consolations is now his/her blanket. And even those can be perceived as childish. 

“Some worry that a child clinging to a transitional object may be a sign of weakness or insecurity, but that’s a misunderstanding stemming from culture rather than scientific evidence.” 


“Child psychologists explain that you can help encourage a healthy relationship with your child’s chosen transitional object by placing it next to him when he seems anxious.” - BabySparks

So, while gifting your child a blanket is intended to appease, it’s simultaneously encouraging your child to independently manage emotions and stimuli. It’s not a crutch—it’s a launch pad. 

While a blankie or lovey can always be introduced, only your child can decide if it’s a comfort item. But chances are when it’s directly associated with love and solace, it will become the go-to choice.  

With every reason to invest in a blankie, it’s time to choose one that’s been uniquely crafted to withstand wear and tear, made of soft, plush fabric, and customizable, too. 

If blankets are, in fact, personified instruments of self-expressionand individuality, chose something that represents those distinctive strengths.

And let it be passed down through the years in all of its well-worn love. 

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