Can my baby (0-11 months) sleep with a toy or doll?
At first glance, crib toys and dolls may appear harmless and even comforting for a young baby, but they can pose a real safety risk. Although unlikely, soft toys could block airflow to the baby’s nose if they get near the baby’s face. Loose or hanging strings or straps could pose a strangulation risk. As babies become more active sleepers and gain the milestones to reach and grab, toys may end up in positions other than where they were first placed by a parent. Young babies don’t need these objects to help them sleep, and though cute, they just aren’t worth the risk.
As babies get a bit older and have more muscle control, at about 6 months or so, they begin to become more aware of their environment and form associations with the process of falling asleep. This the age when it is important that they fall asleep alone in the crib so that if they have a normal awakening during the night, they can put themselves back to sleep with ease and not need your intervention. A transitional object, such as a small doll, blanket, or “lovie,” can help the baby “transition” from needing a parent to falling asleep independently. Some parents find it is helpful to have more than one of the same object on hand in case the original gets lost or ruined. Just be sure to have the transitional object available for naps and family trips!
About Dr. Debra Babcock