Why Do Kids Sleep With Teddy Bears?: Part 1—Sleep Associations
Why do kids sleep with teddy bears? A child’s attachment to a teddy bear, blanket, or stuffed animal can be troubling to the adults who care for him, but it’s a natural part of childhood development. Here’s how the teddy bear helps soothe your child. In future blogs, we’ll examine exactly how teddy bears and other “transitional objects” influence childhood development, and how you can help him (or her) let go of the object when he’s ready.
Good sleepers aren’t born (unless you’re a really, really, really lucky parent)—they’re made. Children learn how to fall asleep (and how to fall back to sleep during the night) comfortably by connecting with the environment around them.
Dr. Donald Shifron, pediatrician, told the Parent Report that babies and young children develop “sleep associations,” or particular things they identify as the last thing they remember as they drift off to sleep. Over time, they attach to those things and want those conditions present when it’s time to sleep.
That means that if they fall asleep in Mom’s arms, then Mom becomes the sleep association—and when a toddler wakes up at four in the morning, she’ll want Mom before she can settle back down to sleep.
Teddy bears become “transitional objects,” helping young children transition from using a parent as a sleep association to using a teddy bear as a sleep association. When your child wants to take the same teddy bear to bed night after night, it’s because she’s come to see that stuffed animal as a sleep association—a necessary condition for settling down comfortably to sleep.
And if you’re a sleep-deprived parent, that’s a very good thing.
Does your child use a teddy bear or another transitional object? Does it work for you?
Author Bio: +Michelle Gordon is a sleep expert who researches and writes about sleep and health, and is an online publisher for the latex mattress specialist Latexmattress.org.