When can I introduce a toy or a comforter?
When you kit out your baby’s nursery you might have purchased – or been given – a bunch of adorable soft toys for them. However, it’s extremely important that you don’t leave any of these in their cot, bassinet or sleeping environment until they are at least 7 months old, as they can pose a serious suffocation risk.
The risks of soft toys
Soft toys or comforters can interfere with the baby’s breathing as they may cover their nose and mouth. Babies under seven months are unable to move around their cot freely or have the ability to remove a toy if it was to cover their face.
By around 7 months babies are more likely to interact with toys in their cot and may find comfort in a favourite toy or small blanket. However, you should not place too many toys in their cot – or anything they can use to step on to climb out of their cot.
Red Nose states: “The risk of suffocation posed by the presence of soft toys or objects in the baby’s sleeping environment outweighs any benefit to the baby from the presence of a transitional object in the cot. It is, therefore, advised not place soft toys and other soft objects in the cot for babies under 7 months of age”.
When do babies form attachments to toys or comforters?
If your baby does have a particular fondness for a toy or comforter, you can encourage this while they are awake and remove it from them while they sleep. Typically, babies don’t show interest in comforters or soft toys until around 12-18 months. This is linked to their development and understanding of their independence from their mother or primary caregiver.
Comforters can also be very helpful for when separation anxiety kicks in to help the baby self soothe. They can be particularly useful when helping baby get used to a new carer or settle into daycare.
However, some babies also might not show affection for any particular toy and that’s ok too. Or, they might prefer random objects around the house, like a wooden spoon or the remote control, and that’s ok too – but these are best left out of their sleep space!