Do your children have favorite blankets? Is it a good idea or not? Some children find amazing comfort from a particular blanket or a stuffed animal.
In the book, The Giver, Lois Lowry creates an utopian society where there is sameness and equality and peace. Family structure is institutionalized to the degree that spouses are arranged and couples must apply for a child to be placed in their family. Parents are not responsible to make child rearing decisions, but trusts the committee to choose even the child’s name and career. All children follow the same protocol. The Giver is the first in a quartet of stories with the final book, Son, tying all the stories together.
In Lowry’s stories infants are given a comfort object, which are the only toys in the stories. Each object is an animal. Living animals do not exist in this fictional controlled community. The primary infant in this story is a boy named, Gabe, who is given a hippopotamus. Gabe cuddles the hippo and chews on its ears. Eventually the hippo is lost, but it continues to be significant.
Four of my five children had favorite blankets. They chose different textures. Two loved crocheted yarn blankets. They loved to put their fingers and toes in the spaces between the strands of yarn. One of them was crazy about the fringe on the edges of the blanket. One child loved the satiny soft ribbon edge on a blanket. Only the edge was important. Another child loved a cotton baby-size quilt.
Two sons with their grandfather and their blankets
Sometimes thumb or pacifier sucking is a part of the self-soothing and blanket holding ritual. Thumbs are never lost in the way that a pacifier can be. This a great quality in the middle of the night when the baby is crying but not wonderful when the four, five or six year old or older child cannot stop sucking their thumb which is always with them.
I think a personal favorite blanket is very helpful. The exception is when the “b.b.” is missing or in the wash. I have witnessed all my children have emotional meltdowns over the trauma of their blanket being unavailable to them during the washing and drying torturous 40 – 90 minutes. Wiser moms than I have recognized their child’s deep attachment and found duplicate blankets so that such disasters are minimized. Store bought blankets are easier to duplicate than are homemade ones.
I have also spent countless hours searching my home or someone else’s home for the elusive blanket. Children often wish to drag it with them everywhere they go including places where it will quickly become filthy (such as a restaurant floor or a playground) necessitating another tormenting washing cycle. We often left the “blankie” in the van or car so that it was available for the traveling (even a trip to the local grocery store) but not lost at the destination. A truly lost blanket might signal the end of the world.
Eventually the blanket became less and less important to each of my children but each at different ages. At age six or seven one son used to hide his under his pillow or under his bed just in case a friend might see it and tease him.
The embroidery design on the cotton quilt wore off and was redone twice. The binding on the satin edged blanket outlasted its interior and became just a ribbon and not a blanket at all. Perhaps the natural wearing out of the blankets makes it easier to part with them. Their life is limited but useful. Children learning to comfort themselves is a part of the natural process of becoming independent and a good thing.
Parents, don’t despair. As your toddlers become school age children and later hit puberty and the teen years there will still be daily opportunities to comfort, guide, hug, love and listen to them.