Discover how comfort objects can help children sleep better after a move with our essential guide for parents.
The psychological impact of relocation on children often stems from uprooting their known environment. A house isn’t just a structure to them; it is where they feel safe. Children form deep attachments to familiar surroundings, whether it is their room, a favorite tree in the yard, or a play area. These spots provide stability and security in their lives. Taking them away from these places can disrupt their emotional well-being. Routines offer predictability in an otherwise chaotic world for children. Changes in daily schedules can make children feel lost and out of control. In such times, comfort objects can help children sleep better after a move, acting as a consistent piece in their reshuffled life and giving them something familiar to hold onto.
What Are Comfort Objects?
Comfort objects, often termed "transitional objects" in psychological circles, provide emotional support to children, especially during change or stress. These items vary widely: soft toys, blankets, or even a piece of cloth. Each holds special significance to the child it belongs to. The reason? Children, in their early stages of development, seek stability. Comfort objects act as anchors, providing a sense of familiarity in unfamiliar situations.
It's not a new trend. Historically, children from various cultures across the globe have found solace in these objects. Whether it's a doll made of rags or a wooden toy, these items have been a constant presence in children's lives for centuries. Their universality suggests that the need for comfort and security is inherent in humans from a young age, making these objects an essential part of childhood.
The Magical Soothing Power of Comfort Objects
For a young child, the world can sometimes feel vast and unpredictable. In these moments, comfort objects act like silent guardians, offering a touch of consistency in their fluctuating environment. They grant children a sense of security, helping them sleep at night. From a developmental perspective, these objects are more than just toys. Children learn about trust, attachment, and self-soothing during crucial stages of growth. Comfort objects assist in this learning process, teaching kids how to cope with emotions and feelings of uncertainty.
Consider these items as bridges. As kids navigate the wide gap between dependence on parents and self-reliance, comfort objects act as supportive transitional tools. They give children the confidence to explore the world around them while knowing they have a trusted companion by their side.
Comfort Objects Can Help Children Sleep Better After a Move: The Science Behind It
Scientifically, comfort objects have a direct connection to the brain's ability to manage stress. During challenging times, the brain releases cortisol, a stress hormone. Consistent exposure to this hormone, according to sleep experts, especially in children, can disrupt sleep patterns, making rest elusive.
However, comfort objects can counteract this effect. They activate the brain's oxytocin release - often termed the "love" or "comfort" hormone. Oxytocin can lower cortisol levels, promoting feelings of safety and relaxation. The natural circadian rhythm reasserts itself, improving sleep quality and duration. Multiple studies reinforce these findings. A 2019 study published in the Child Development Journal found that children who had access to their comfort objects during times of change, like moving, exhibited steadier sleep patterns. Research from the Pediatric Sleep Research Institute highlighted that children with comfort objects fell asleep faster post-relocation, reducing nighttime awakenings. In essence, for many children, comfort objects are a bridge to better sleep.
Selecting the Perfect Comfort Object for Your Child
Choosing the fitting comfort object for your child is essential, especially considering that comfort objects can help children sleep better after a move. Find what resonates with your child's needs and preferences to make his bedroom sleep-friendly. Often, the best way to find the perfect item is to involve your child in the selection process. Their attachment and fondness for the object will be stronger if they have a say in the choice.
Observe your child's tendencies: do they cuddle a particular teddy more often or wrap themselves in a specific blanket? These cues can guide you toward the best pick. However, while emotional connection is critical, safety should always come first. Avoid objects with small detachable parts that pose a choking hazard for younger children. Similarly, it's wise to select items made of breathable materials for bedtime to prevent suffocation risks.
Caring for and Maintaining Comfort Objects
Maintaining the cleanliness and integrity of comfort objects is essential. Given that these items often see daily use, proper cleaning becomes vital. Check care labels on toys for specific instructions. Some may be machine washable, while others may require gentle hand washing.
Backup comfort objects offer peace of mind. If a child's favorite item gets lost or damaged, having an identical replacement ready can mitigate distress. If you choose to have duplicates, a storage unit is an ideal place for safekeeping, especially in crowded areas like Washington, DC, where extra space can be at a premium. Renting storage in Washington, DC, will save space for beloved items and guarantee they remain in good condition when needed. And as kids grow, the emotional significance of precious objects may diminish, but their sentimental value remains. Storing them as keepsakes is a heartwarming way to preserve memories.
Introducing Comfort Objects Before the Move
When introducing comfort objects, choosing the right timing is vital. Instead of springing it on them just days before the move, give it a few weeks. This window allows your child to form an attachment, making the object truly comforting during the relocation. Next, discuss the comfort object's purpose with your child, emphasizing that it's a special item meant to provide solace and familiarity. Make it an event: maybe a day out to choose it or a quiet evening discussion about its significance.
Lastly, use this new comfort object to establish a calming bedtime routine and sleeping habits. It can include reading a story with the stuffed animal, tucking in the blanket, or simply chatting about the day. The idea is to associate the comfort object with positive, soothing experiences. So, by the time you move, your child will have an established source of comfort to help them through the transition.
Tips for Washington Parents: Local Shops to Find Comfort Objects
Washington is home to various stores that offer a selection of comfort objects perfect for children. One of the most popular destinations is Little Dreamers, a boutique shop specializing in handcrafted toys and soft blankets. Another favorite among parents is Capital Comforts, known for its plush animals and cuddly items suitable for kids of all ages. Apart from established stores, the city is rich with talented local artisans crafting unique comfort items. Places like the DC Crafts Market or Washington Artisans' Alley host a variety of stalls where handmade treasures await. Here, one can find not just mass-produced items but pieces made with love, care, and creativity.
For families relocating to Washington, the community offers exceptional support. Local parent groups often share resources and recommendations, making settling down easier. They also provide insights into neighborhood shops and hidden gems where you might find the perfect comfort object for your child.
The significance of comfort objects in a child's life is evident, especially during significant changes like relocation. These cherished items often provide stability, helping young ones adjust and feel secure in new surroundings. Comfort objects can help children sleep better after a move, reducing nighttime anxieties. It's vital for parents to understand the role these items play, from selection to maintenance and eventually transitioning away from them. As children evolve, grow, and adapt, so do their needs. Nurturing their growth while ensuring they have the support they need is the beautiful balance of parenting.
It is very common for children’s sleep to be affected during and after a divorce. During times of transition, getting good sleep will help both you and your child thrive and adjust to a new normal. Here are some tips you (and your ex) can use to prioritize your child’s sleep habits, and subsequently get some sleep for yourselves as well.
Tip #1: Have a special lovey that travels with your child.
If your child has a lovey or a special blanket/stuffed animal, it can provide a lot of comfort for them, especially in a new environment. Since your child may have two different bedrooms now, it is imperative that your child has something that can ground them in a new space. A comfort item that they are accustomed to sleeping with will help calm your child and help them feel secure.
Tip #2: Use similar bedtime routines at each house.
For the sake of your child, it is a good idea to keep their bedtime routine the same at each house. While living situations change and different routines may come with that, a child is not able to easily adapt to a new routine. If you can, keep the time that your child goes to bed the same. Keeping the same familiar routine (bath, brush teeth, story, etc.) will also help your child feel secure and comfortable.
Tip #3: Keep the same sleep environment
Can you see a pattern here? Our goal with guiding a child through a transition from one to two bedrooms is consistency. You want to make their new circumstances as familiar to them as possible. If you’ve been around the blog for a bit, you know that I always recommend a dark sleep environment. I also recommend your child has a crib/bed of their own, their own space to sleep in.
Helping your child through any transition can be tough. The bottom line is this: give them consistency and familiarity. When all else seems to be changing around them, a child needs to feel grounded and safe in their situation. Using these tips you can ensure that your child has the tools to walk through a transition with ease.
Traveling with kids can be a thrilling and enriching experience for the whole family. While it may require some extra planning and patience, the memories and bonding opportunities created during these adventures are truly priceless.
One essential aspect of traveling with kids is preparation. Begin by researching kid-friendly destinations that offer a variety of activities suitable for different age groups. Consider destinations with interactive museums, amusement parks, or outdoor playgrounds. These places often provide opportunities for children to learn, engage and burn off excess energy.
When it comes to packing, ensure you have all the essentials like snacks, extra clothing, and comfort items such as a favorite toy or blanket. It is also wise to bring along entertainment options like coloring books, puzzles or electronic devices for longer journeys. There's always the option of shipping yourself items from Amazon or Instacart to reduce the amount you have to pack in your suitcases, or purchasing items such as diapers once you arrive.
Try to involve your kids in the planning process; it gives them a sense of ownership and excitement about the trip.
For travel days, sleep rules go out the window. Getting your child to sleep on the plane or in the car makes the trip go by much smoother. Hold your child, rock them…do whatever to help them sleep during travel.
During the trip, maintain a flexible schedule that allows for breaks and downtime. If your child still naps, prioritize naps over keeping them awake all day. Kids can easily become overwhelmed or tired, so it's important to listen to their cues and adjust accordingly. Even children who don’t normally take a daily nap will appreciate the downtime in the afternoon for a bit. Incorporate regular snack breaks, rest stops, and opportunities for physical activities to keep everyone energized and happy.
Lastly, embrace the unexpected and utilize teachable moments. Traveling with kids exposes them to new cultures, traditions, and experiences. Encourage them to try new foods, interact with locals, and learn about the history and customs of the places they visit. These experiences foster their curiosity, broaden their perspectives, and create lifelong memories. Overall, traveling with kids can be challenging but immensely rewarding. By planning ahead, staying flexible, and nurturing their sense of wonder, you can create unforgettable family adventures that will be cherished for years to come.
And when you get home, get right back on your child’s sleep routine and schedule. If they had to share a room with you away from home, get your child right back into their own bed the first night back.
Want to know exactly what to pack for your infant or toddler? Check out our ultimate packing lists.
Traveling this summer and aren’t sure about your particular travel plans to make it easier? Schedule a free call with us.
Twins! Twice the fun and double the love. With any baby, sleep training can be hard. As a parent of twins, it can seem downright impossible. But sleep training twins can be successful with a few tips to get you started.
The biggest thing to consider when getting ready to sleep train twins is their adjusted age. Chances are, when your babies were born, they were not full term. This means they have a bit of catching up to do developmentally before they’re ready to form the best sleep habits. If you’re calculating their age based on the day they were born, you may be attempting to sleep train before they are ready.
A big misconception that I hear often is that sleep training requires letting your baby cry it out. This can make a twin parent cringe! How can you let one baby cry it out with the other one trying to sleep nearby? The cry-it-out method is not the only sleep training method you can use. Look into other methods such as the pick up/put down method or the chair method (which could potentially be used for both twins at once!). In addition, if one baby is sleeping better than the other, consider having them sleep in another room temporarily while you train their sibling. Twins tend to be on the same routine once it’s established, but getting there may take some work.
Listening to your baby's cues also helps immensely. As new parents, we often feel the need to document everything and feed on a schedule. During the night time, let your babies sleep and only feed them if they wake! This may seem pretty obvious, but if your baby is gaining weight as they should be, get the sleep while you can and let them tell you when they’re ready to eat again.
Lastly, as a twin parent, celebrate your successes no matter how small! You are working so hard and any steps you make towards better sleep should be recognized. Dropped a night feeding? Hooray! Got both babes to self-soothe? Boom! Give yourself a pat on the back.
I want to know, have you trained infant twins? What tips and tricks worked for you?
Bringing a new baby into the house is very likely to impact your older child’s sleep habits in one way or another, and there are two big reasons why;
1. Your toddler will likely hear the newborn’s cries and think they should help.
2. Your toddler’s wondering why he or she is no longer the center of your world and may be a bit jealous to share your attention.
The confusion of the upheaval of a once only kid household and jealousy will likely cause sort of a regression, prompting your toddler to want the ‘only kid’ attention they enjoyed previously, such as…
● Lots of requests for snuggles
● They may want to ‘act like a baby’ again
● Requesting to sleep in your bed or in your room
● Additional stalling, antics and tantrums during the bedtime routine
The biggest reason this can affect sleep is that parents start feeling guilty about the fact that they don’t have enough hands or time to be in two places at once, so they try to compensate by giving in to all those requests, and those requests frequently show up right at bedtime. You’ll likely hear everything from requests for extra stories, staying up later, laying with them, holding hands, etc.
Parents… I totally understand. Guilt sucks. And when we feel guilty about spending so much extra effort on a new baby, we start to do anything to make sure our kiddos know they haven’t been forgotten, get extra time with us and feel all the love.
So what’s the harm in a few more books and laying in bed with our kid to give some extra love and attention?
“Children are as independent as you expect them to be.” ~Maria Montessori
It’s likely this situation will happen at some point, so here’s what you do:
Keep everything around bedtime exactly as it was before the new sibling arrived; the same bedtime routine with the same limits you had before (ex: reading 2 books), sleeping in their own bed and sleeping there all night.
Comfort and support, but don’t change the how, where and when.
If you start changing what’s allowed around bedtime, such as adding a dance party and saying goodnight to every stuffed animal in your child’s room, it’s only going to tell your toddler that boundaries mean nothing and trust me, they’ll take 10 miles if you give an inch.
Second, try to focus 15-20 minutes during the day where it’s just you and your toddler, one-on-one to do something together. Your kiddo will love the extra time and snuggles.
Never apologize to yourself or your kid for setting boundaries. If the feeling of “oh no, I have to give everything” guilt starts to set in, remember that your toddler is simply working through some big emotions, which toddlers don’t know how to navigate. You are doing the best you can and holding to your boundaries to have a happy, attached and supported kiddo. You’re an awesome parent…don’t forget that.
Within a few weeks, your whole family will have had time to adjust to the newest member of the family and you’ll find that new groove. You’ve got this!
Walking through a large store last weekend with my daughter, she asked to go through the Halloween section. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised but also excited that she’s starting to enjoy one of my favorite holidays! We turned down the aisle and she ran right past the candy, the girly costumes, the silly masks… then stopped cold in her tracks in the face of a creepy looking clown thing that you hang up on your front porch to greet trick or treaters. The look on her face said it all… Yikes!
Did you have a lovey as a child? I’ll admit that I still have my pink crocheted blanket. It’s no longer on my bed, but I can’t bear to get rid of something so dear to me that brought me comfort and happy memories.
I always ask families if their child has a lovey. You might call them security blankets, wubbies, snuggle bunnies, blankies, etc but they are all the same thing…they are an object that your child takes to bed with them whenever they sleep for comfort and security.
Loveys can be a comforting way for your child to sleep and become one of your child’s strategies for falling asleep.
I recommend parents introduce a lovey between 4 to 6 months of age.
But how do you choose which one? And what if my child doesn’t like it?
Make sure the lovey is something small, such as a small stuffed animal or small blanket, about the size of a face cloth that the child can easily find in the dark. The benefit of a lovey is that it’s something baby can find in the middle night by themselves and doesn’t require your assistance.
Their lovey shouldn’t make noise, such as a rattle or crinkle sound; it shouldn’t light up and shouldn’t have pieces that can be choking hazards, such as buttons for eyes.
You may notice that your child has a particular attraction to a small stuffed animal during playtime. Once you’ve identified the new lovey, include it in activities during the day such as tummy time and when they’re traveling in their car seat.
We as parents know that frequent hand washing and cleaning heavily used surfaces like doorknobs and light switches can go a long way to preventing the spread of germs, but what do you do when your little one wakes up with a stuffy nose and a cough?
Usually your baby is a great sleeper, but now she has what looks like a cold and consequently isn’t sleeping well. Have no fear! I want to give you some tips for handling sickness so that your baby doesn’t pick up bad habits that will persist long after the germs have gone. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Expect that your sick child is going to have some nighttime wakeups. Anyone who is ill does not sleep as well as they normally do. They may have one, two, five or even more nighttime wake-ups…it’s how you handle those wake-ups will make a big difference.
One of the big mistakes people make is that they start to intervene in their child’s sleep skills. Meaning they go in, they try to rock or they start to feed again. They try to lull baby to sleep in their arms or go back to all their old sleep props. I understand why people do that because you want to comfort your baby when they’re sick. I’m not saying don’t comfort baby…you can absolutely go in. Have a short cuddle, wipe her nose, give her a drink of water, whatever you need to do to offer some comfort, but don’t interfere with her sleep skills.
You’re not going to rock her back to sleep. You’re not going to feed her to sleep. You’re not going to do any of the things that you normally wouldn’t let her do. The only time you would ever go back to a nighttime feed, obviously, is if your doctor or pediatrician suggests it. If she’s had a high fever for several days, she might need some extra fluids through the night.
You want to make sure that those only happen for a few nights. Three is kind of my rule of thumb. If anything happens for more than three nights, then there is the danger that the baby is going to now expect this and start waking up looking for feeds, rocking, etc even once the sickness is gone.
Another big mistake people make is that they bring their baby into bed with them. Again, I understand it. My daughter seemed to come home from daycare with a new sickness every other week. I’d get sick, then she’d bring home something new. It was a vicious cycle. I understand where that desire comes from. Again, you want to comfort your sick child. If you’re really concerned about your child in the night, it is much better for you to go to them than to bring them to you.
If you’re really concerned, throw down an air mattress on the floor of baby’s room. Spend a night or two in his room to keep an eye on him. Again, remembering my rule of threes, try not to do it for any longer than three nights or you might find yourself six months later still sleeping beside his bed. If everything falls apart, cut yourself a bit of slack. Sometimes it happens. Know that as soon as your baby is well again, just get right back on track with good sleep skills. Go back to your normal routine and baby will remember those great skills that she used before the sniffles came.