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Lookin' For Lovey In All the Wrong Places?

When Baby Girl was about 8 weeks old, I began reading ahead on the whole “helping your baby sleep” thing.  Being a chronic over-achiever, I’m much happier when I’ve got a firm plan of attack for anything I do, even if it’s just jotting down how an evening’s going to go (1.  Watch movie; 2.  Go to bed.) on a paper napkin.  So I wanted to have some sort of an idea about what our long-term goal – say, six months old - was for helping Maddie sleep at night.

From what I read, the whole bedtime routine’s the most important thing.  Every expert, over and over again, stated the need for a predictable routine at the same time every night.  Guess what happened next?
Yep, I panicked.
We had no routine!  She woke up, ate, screamed a lot, went to sleep for a few hours, then did the whole thing again!  Was I supposed to start the routine when she went to sleep at 9 p.m., or 1 a.m., or 4 a.m.?  And then there’s the routine itself – what would it involve?  How would we pick the music?  Would there be book reading?  If there was, would she come to associate reading with going to sleep?  Would that make her sleepy in high school English class?  Is my daughter’s bedtime routine going to be responsible for causing her to flunk out of school?
Yeah, I was still sleep-deprived and prone to over-reacting.
After my husband peeled me off the ceiling, we talked it over and decided we’d try to have a basic routine in place by four months.  This would not include things that would come later – praying with her, for example, and talking over the day – since they are a bit beyond her grasp right now.  But we would have our “lullaby” mix cd selected and burned for her, and try to get some semblance of an order and routine to the event.  We could only hope that by that time, she’d be sleeping a bit more regularly, with some sort of separation discernable between day and night.
And sure enough, by four months she was in her own crib, unswaddled, and sleeping through the night (though I did not know that this would not last – see earlier blog!)   We had the music, the sleepy lotion with a soft lavender scent for a little mini baby-massage, and our two parts were down pat.  There was only one character missing from the scene – the Lovey.
Everyone (including Ferber) encourages you to help your child find some sort of Lovey, or transitional object, to snuggle with and associate with sleep time, be it a stuffed animal or little blanket.  Here’s the confusing part for me – these same experts tell you not to put anything in your new baby’s crib (like a stuffed animal or blanket) to prevent SIDS!  So now what??
I talked it over with our pediatrician (bless her patient soul – I come to every well-baby visit with a typed list of questions, and I can almost hear her talking to one of the other doctors in the reception room:  “I’ll give you $50 to take my next patient for me.  $100.  Name your price!”) and she felt comfortable with us introducing something like that into Maddie’s crib at six months.  Great!  Now to find said Lovey and make Madeleine fall wildly in love with it.
I’ve polled my girlfriends, of course, and had different answers.  Some babies didn’t need a lovey, since they co-slept and used mom and dad as one, and some babies didn’t want one in spite of their parents’ attempts to encourage attachment.  My girlfriend Sandra gave what’s probably the wisest advice; she cut a couple flannel receiving blankets in half, stitched satin ribbon around the edges, and had multiple identical loveys for the inevitable Lost Lovey Tragedies.
I’m really fortunate – Madeleine’s grandparents gave her a Lovey for Christmas that’s a pink bear head with a blanket body, a great size for her, and it’s got her name embroidered on it.  We’re hoping she attaches to that.  We’ve also been given some truly beautiful small blankets custom-made for her, and she may well end up picking one of them.  Here’s hoping!  But before Christmas, I searched the web and found a couple great ones I’m passing on in case you’re also in this situation:
Sadie’s Silkies              I love this idea.  Sadie makes a blanket that’s flannel on one side, satin on the other, for a feel babies love, in a variety of patterns   It’s a pretty blanket and all, but here’s the clincher for me – she also makes the exact same thing in a travel size.  Yep, that’s right.  No more full-sized blanket getting caught under the stroller wheels.  The travel size is 17x17, just right for plane rides and tucking into a diaper bag.  I think this is also a really great shower gift.
Snoedel                        Yeah, I don’t know what it means either.  Probably Swedish for “Lovey” or something.  It’s basically a square of fabric with little knots at a couple corners, and a big “head” knot at another corner, so it’s a blanket and a doll.  I like that it’s small; makes it portable and less likely to keep me awake worrying about suffocation.  Yes, you could make one of your own somewhat easily.  The point is, will you?
So there you go.  I’ve started sleeping with the Lovey Maddie’s been given to try to get my scent on it, and letting her snuggle with it (read: chew on it) during the day.  I’ve put it down with her for naps, and so far it’s just sitting in the corner, but we’ll see.  You can’t control what –if anything – your child imprints on for a transitional object.  You can only hope pray that once she does, you never lose it.


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