Introducing and Using a comforter

Introducing and Using a comforter

Introducing and using a comforter - is it something you should try? I'm here to tell you that it absolutely is!

A comforter is not only your littles one's piece of home, but they help to keep them company while in their bed. There is nothing wrong with introducing and using a comforter and if anything it'll make your life, and your babies, life easier for a number of reasons! Firstly, it helps them to learn to self-soothe independently. With a comforter they will get to sleep easier and when they wake in the night they'll turn to that to soothe themselves back to sleep. Secondly, it's also a fantastic sleep association because when your baby sees it or is given their comforter, they will know it's time to go to sleep. This can be so helpful when their sleep schedule falls when you're not home, are travelling or at daycare. For many children, their comforter also becomes a security item with which they turn to for comfort during tricky transitions such as meeting a new sibling or moving house.

What exactly is a comforter and how do I introduce it?

Essentially, a comforter an item that your little one associates with bedtime or sleep, and it has a really positive impact on their sleep. I recommend introducing a comforter around the 7 month mark because at this stage it's safe for it to be left in the cot. But don't worry if your baby is older and you're thinking of introducing a comforter, it's not too late, you can definitley still introduce it in the same ways.

Here's my tips for introducing a comforter:

  • Before you introduce a comforter you need to make sure you're getting a safe one. It must be about the size of a handkerchief and made of breathable material. I also recommend buying two of the same thing so you can rotate them when you wash them, and you have a spare if you loose one!
  • Once you have the the comforter, stick it down your shirt (yes you read that correctly), or sleep with it for a while. While this sounds strange, this is to make sure it smells likes you and provides comfort to the baby.
  • Ensure you have the comforter present only during feeds and wind-downs. This to start the association between the comforter and sleep.
  • When you baby is 7 months old you can start popping it into the cot with them. Simply place it in their hand or tucked under their armpit. Do the same thing when they wake and are struggling to find it, eventually they'll be able to do that themselves.
But, as always, it'm important to remember that not all babies are the same and some won't take to a comforter at all, and that's okay, just don't try to force it. Sometime your breast or co-feeding will be your babies comforter and that's okay too. For those babies that do accept a comforter, remember, like anything else, the association won't happen overnight. This process requires consistency and patience. It you keep offering it at bedtime, they will eventually make the association and use the comforter to self sooth and sleep.

Case Study

I recently worked with 10 month old Olivia, who was happy to go into her cot, but after a minute or two, it was as if she got bored and would start calling out and becoming increasingly upset. So, we introduced a comforter and tried our luck! First of all, we popped the comforter in her cot with her and left the room. We watched the monitor and saw that she hadn't noticed it and was just laying there. After a few minutes we went back in and placed the comforter in her hand. However, after a few minutes passed, she dropped it and stood up. We tried again and had the same result. This process repeated for about 15-20 minutes.

On the fourth try, Olivia lay down in her cot and played inquisitively with her comforter. However, after about 10 minutes she dropped it and stood up again. We left her to see if she would lay back down herself but when she didn't, we went back in and repeated the process of laying her down and handing her the comforter. This time, Olivia didn't get back up. She stayed laying down playing and babbling away to her comforter before drifting off to sleep. From here, each wind down routine and sleep involved her comforter and she still uses it for sleep 2 and a half years later.

This shows that by just handing your little one something, it doesn't mean they will take it. We need to help show them what to do with it and consistently use them at the right times so they develop the association between that particular item and sleep! Head over to my Instagram page to let me know your experiences with using introducing and using a comforter.
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