Many young children bring pacifiers, blankets, stuffed animals and other security objects to child care. Objects like pacifiers can provide comfort when a child is feeling insecure. And they can help children make the transition between home and child care.
Many parents and child care providers wonder when children should stop taking the blanket or pacifier to child care. There’s no hard and fast rule. Some children are ready to give up their security objects by age 2 or 3. Others need the connection for a longer time. What’s more important in a child care setting is to teach children when security objects are appropriate. Toddlers can learn not to carry the blanket to the playground or talk with a pacifier in their mouths.
Child care providers can guide children by setting up guidelines for using security objects in child care. Infants may need a pacifier whenever they are upset. Most toddlers can learn that the blanket and the pacifier stay in a special place, such as a basket or cubbie, until naptime. By setting these guidelines, child care providers help toddlers learn when security objects are appropriate.
Eventually, most children will outgrow the need for a security object, but every child’s timetable is different. Adults don’t need to take away security objects on a set schedule. They simply need to help children know when and where it is okay to comfort themselves with these objects.
To learn more about how child care providers can support toddlers' emotional needs, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: