Q: My one-year-old is going to start child care soon, and her new teacher suggests bringing a stuffed animal to help her with the transition. My daughter doesn't really have a lovey right now. What should I do?
A: Think about the different stuffed animals, dolls, or blankets your child has, and choose the one that you think she may be most connected to. Start to use this object in your everyday routines with your daughter. For example, hold the bear or blanket on your lap as you read books and cuddle with your child. Or, let her hug her doll while you sing to her before naps and bedtime. You can also incorporate this blanket or stuffed animal into your daughter's playtime in whatever way possible—pushing her bear in a doll stroller or using her special blanket to make a tent over some couch cushions.
The idea is to have your child connect this cuddly object with the warmth and trust she experiences with you so that it can serve as a substitute when she can't be with you. Rest assured that even if your daughter doesn't become attached to her lovey right away, having a familiar object with her can still give her comfort and help her feel safe during the transition to child care. Also keep in mind that some children don't need a lovey to make a healthy adjustment to child care. Many children need time and support to make the transition, but others are simply more flexible by nature and don't need comforting objects to help them cope with change.
There are other ways to make the move to child care easier. Consider making a photo album of your family and home that your daughter can bring with her to child care and look at when she's feeling sad. Send her a with a favorite toy or book to play with or read during the day. And try to visit the center and play there with the caregivers a few times before she begins so that the room and teachers are familiar.