I think I might love my daughter's lovie just as much as she does. It has been like the fourth member of our family for the last 18 months. My partner and I introduced lovie to our daughter when she was 6-months-old, but with the always-present fear of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and the endless recommendations to lower SIDS risks, it's worth asking the same question I asked myself: when can your baby have a lovie in the crib? Turns out, just like parenthood itself, the answer is complicated.
First of all, some of you might be wondering what the heck a lovie is anyway. The Baby Sleep Site explains, saying a lovie is the term used for any item that a baby or toddler brings to bed that provides comfort or soothing. A lovie can be anything, really, so long as it brings comfort to your baby when it's time for them to sleep, be it a daytime nap or nighttime sleep. The Baby Sleep Site goes on to give a few hilarious examples of various lovies they've encountered throughout the years, like a pacifier, stuffed animal, spoon, and even a board book or puzzle piece. Ideally, though, The Baby Sleep Site says a lovie would be something a baby or toddler could easily grasp and potentially cuddle, but apparently the latter isn't a requirement.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), the risk of a baby dying from SIDS is significantly higher if you have loose blankets or soft items in your baby's crib before they are 1-year-old. That means if your chosen lovie is a blanket or a stuffed animal, you don't want to introduce that particular item to your baby until they are 1-year-old or older.
The Baby Sleep Site also says parents need to think about choking hazards, going on to say parents shouldn't use lovies "that have small detachable pieces, or even pieces that are sewn on but could potentially detach (think stuffed animals with small, plastic eyes sewn on.)"
Because there aren't any hard or fast guidelines about lovies in the crib, you'll probably want to ask your pediatrician if you have any worries about what you're sending your baby to bed with each night. And, as always, the best way to make sure you're baby is going to sleep as safely as possible is to follow the AAP safe sleep guidelines: put baby on their back to sleep, sans blankets, lovies, pillows, or stuffed animals, in the same room as you but on their own sleep surface.
While Parents reminds caregivers that some babies and toddlers don't need a lovie to soothe themselves to sleep, some are particularly attached to theirs. If your baby is attached to their lovie, consider getting a duplicate and rotating lovies. The last thing you want is to drop lovie at the zoo and be calling the zoo phone line all night while your baby screams, unable to go to sleep without it. Trust me.