Transitional Objects and Parenting

5 Apr

A couple of months ago I was beginning to get worried that something was wrong with my daughter because she has never sucked her thumb, has never had a snuggle blanket and doesn’t really care that much about her cuddly toys. She would still much rather play with a calculator than carry a teddybear around with her. But then I came across a very reassuring insight (unfortunately I can’t remember where!) which completely put my mind at rest.

Children whose parents practice Attachment Parenting are less likely to use transitional objects. Attachment Parenting includes practices such as breastfeeding, co-sleeping and babywearing. This means that the baby has a lot of physical contact with the mother and as a result simply doesn’t need an object which symbolically represents her.

This study found that “the use of a traditional TO [pacifier, thumb, blanket, toy] may occur as an infant adaptation to parenting practices”. The authors are quick to point out thatĀ their conclusion “in no way suggests that an attachment to a traditional TO is dysfunctional or unhealthy, rather that through individual differences and varying cultural child care practices, infants adopt a behavior that enables them to deal with stress”. The stress mentioned here is the transition from being awake to sleeping as well as nighttime waking, which can be difficult for an infant to cope with. To me this says that the long uncomfortable nights getting used to sleeping always in the same position were worth it.

So now I know that it’s fine that my daughter isn’t attached to any soft objects, because it means that she is securely attached to me.



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