When your toddler is around 3 years old, you may notice a surge of separation anxiety. As they get closer to 4 years of age, separation anxiety tends to decrease. Toddlers are individuals and they may have days that are worse or better than others. There can be many peaks and valleys. One day they may seem fine, and then for days or even weeks, they may want you nearby.
Using a Lovey or Transitional Object to Help Reduce Separation Anxiety
Having a transitional object, like a lovey, can help provide your toddler with comfort and ease anxious feelings. Loveys are not recommended for babies under 12 months of age. Once your baby is a toddler, over one year old, you may want to introduce a lovey at naptime and bedtime. Initially, they may not show any interest in the object at all. It can take some time for them to get used to the object. Here are some ideas to try:
- Begin including the lovey in your toddler’s naptime and bedtime routines.
- When snuggling with your toddler, or reading books, put the lovey in between yourself and your toddler.
- Let your toddler pick out their comfort objects. You may have already observed an object they tend to gravitate toward.
- Holding the lovey or even sleeping with it the night before you introduce it to your toddler can help it smell like you.
- You may want to purchase more than one lovey or comfort objects in case one gets misplaced, or needs to be laundered. Be sure to alternate between the two so they maintain the same appearance and feel for your toddler.
Other Tips for Helping Toddlers Deal with Separation Anxiety
For toddlers, having a lovey or other type of comfort object like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal can go a long way in helping calm anxiety. Here are a few other ways to help them during this delicate stage.
Intentional 1-on-1 Time.
Providing some intentional 1-on-1 time with your toddler can be healthy and helpful for them. Just 10 to 15 minutes of your undivided attention can be a huge help. Having this extra time for attention and connecting can make a big difference on how they adjust to transitions and changes.
Practicing Planned Separation.
Playing separation games like hide-n-seek with your toddler can help reinforce that you are always nearby and you are coming back. You may even want to talk to your toddler while you are hiding. This helps them know that you are close even though they cannot see you. Once they are more comfortable, you can just hide. When you and your toddler are ready, have a grandparent, or other trusted friend or family member watch them while you run errands. Practicing safe separation opportunities can help your toddler become more comfortable away from you for short times. It will help reinforce to them that you will return.
Don’t Just Sneak Away.
Prepare your child for time apart. You may discuss what they should expect while you are away. Even if they don’t quite understand, talking to them about it beforehand can be beneficial. Let your toddler see you as you leave. Sneaking away can oftentimes increase their fears and anxieties about separation. Allowing them to see you leave can help promote trust as they try to understand the new concept.
Create a Simple Goodbye Routine.
A hug, a kiss, and simple “I love you” are great. Remind them that you always come back for them. Having a “goodbye routine” will help it feel more predictable and offer your toddler a recognizable routine they can count on. Don’t stick around, though. Do your goodbye routine, then leave.
Providing extra time in the mornings to get ready for daycare or pre-school can help ease your toddler’s tension. When they do not feel rushed, separation and transition can be less difficult. You need time to manage your emotions, as well as follow through with the strategies you have planned.
Little Biscuits Lovey
As parents, we understand how difficult transitions and separations can be for you and your toddler. If you are looking for a natural lovey option, check out our Little Biscuits loveys. They are made from bamboo, so they are super soft, so your toddler will love just holding onto it. Bamboo also has antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Order a lovey for your toddler today!