A baby comforter is a small blanket or soft toy especially designed to be used for settling babies and providing comfort. They are often used to settle a baby to sleep or in situations where baby may be agitated such as on a car journey, on a plane or when staying in an unfamiliar place.
Why use a comforter for your baby?
Giving baby its soft comforter can be very useful for sleep association, it tells your baby it is time for sleep. Babies can easily find a blankie or soft toy comforter in its cot and use it to resettle themselves during the day or night. There are times your little one has an extra need for a comfort item, for example when it's poorly, the arrival of a new baby brother or sister, times away from mum and dad and in childcare.
Babies also typically go through phases of separation anxiety (usually at 9-12 months and again at about 2 years), so having a comforter can be especially helpful then. Often in a nursery setting you'll see baby comforters in the hands of little ones. If you are starting sleep training with babies over 6 months, the introduction of a comforter in your plan can be recommended. It can make sleep training much easier, particularly if you are weaning your baby off a strong sleep association such as feeding, cuddling or rocking to sleep.
Parents often say they are determined not to need a comforter as their baby won't be cuddled or rocked to sleep, but they often cave in. Are there many things cuter!
When can I introduce a comforter to my baby?
The Lullaby Trust recommends that babies should sleep in a clear cot. Practically speaking this can mean that before 12 months you use the comforter as your baby falls asleep, and remove it afterwards. It also really depends on what you choose as a baby comforter. It is important to choose a comforter that doesn’t loose items such as plastic eyes or buttons, or long fur, isn’t too large and won’t be pulled over your little one’s head. It's also essential it isn't long enough to wrap around them.
Any item introduced before 6 months of age must be made from a breathable fabric, such as muslin. If using a comforter under 6 months of age, we recommend attaching it to your baby's swaddle or sleeping bag with a safety-lock safety pin, so it can't get up over their face. If you are introducing baby comforters after that time, then any small, breathable comforter should be fine provided it has no loose stitching or any small pieces that can become unattached.
Baby comforter tips
- You can introduce a comforter from the age of six months Small is a good idea, so it can be easily handled by little hands.
- We recommend sticking to one comforter, ideally one that is washable as the comforter will get sucked and dribbled on!
- If you sleep with it overnight before it will smell of you and if you are breastfeeding you could even put a little bit of your milk on it.
- Give the baby comforter to your baby at each nap during the day and at bedtime. Avoid bean fillings or long fur that your baby might pull out of accidentally inhale. You can try pulling at the fur to test it!
- Choose breathable fabric if possible, such as cotton, muslin or bamboo. See if your baby is interested in satin tags, as the Snoozebaby comforters are great for that.
- A comforter can be a great support when trying to ditch the dummy
- Choose something you like for your baby's comforter, as it may be around for a while, and will be seen in public.
- Choose something that you can get a spare of later or buy 2 at the same time. With toddlers you may prefer more of a toy, such as a snuggly soft bear or bunny. Your toddler may want to choose their own.
What if baby gets dependent on a comforter?
As children get older some parents worry about their child’s dependence on their comforter. There is nothing to worry about. Children tend to naturally reduce their dependence on their comforter as they get older. As long as their teddy or blanket isn’t stopping them from leading a happy and healthy life then there's nothing to be concerned about.
Most nurseries and schools are very sensitive to the potential need to bring in a comforter during settling in periods. Using their comforter when you are not there is a good way to practice self-regulation, and to cope with any fears or anxieties about you not being with them. In time, their comforter can be left on their peg, or even at home, ready and waiting for them on their return.