Should we limit access to our daughter’s comforter?

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I’m having a moral and ethical dilemma. Let me ask you outright; is it ever correct to limit access to a child’s comforter?

comforter, child, children, growing up, thumb sucking, development
Would it be mean to slowly but surely reduce Elizabeth’s access to her comforter or, long term, would we doing her a favour?

Mrs Adams and I find ourselves in a slightly thorny situation regarding Elizabeth, or youngest daughter. Like most kid’s she’s always had a comforter. It’s a bright pink strip of material.

Well, it was bright pink. Years of being dragged across car parks, dropped in puddles and food spillages have seen it become a strip of material with pink, brown, white and grey patches. Before you judge me, yes it is regularly washed but even so, I dread to think how many microbes live on that thing.

Anyway, Elizabeth is three but her fourth birthday isn’t that far off. We’ve noticed there is a big gap between her teeth caused by this activity and that she is most likely to suck her thumb when she has her comforter. The comforter is kept out of reach while she is at pre-school and the staff say she doesn’t ask for the material or suck her thumb while there.

Over recent weeks I’ve ‘forgotten’ to put the comforter in the car before going on some journeys. As opposed to sitting in silence sucking her thumb as she would often do, Elizabeth has been very sparky and we’ve had some wonderful conversations. It’s left me wondering if she’s become a little too used to having it with her.

This was a situation we didn’t really face with our older child, Helen. Sure, she had a soft toy called Sheepy that she loved. Thing is, she was never as reliant on it. More to the point, her comforter was lost when she was three and it has never been found.

Losing Sheepy was a traumatic experience. Not so much for Helen but for Mrs Adams who periodically went on expeditions to find Sheepy years after he went AWOL.

The question remains, what should we do with Elizabeth’s comforter? She’s not starting school for another year. We would ideally like her weaned off this heavily-smudged strip of material, or at least ensure she only has it at bedtime by the time she starts school.

Even so, I feel mean at the thought of doing it. I once read that kids use comforters as they find their way in the world. The love they have for their comforter is, essentially, a substitute for the love they have for parents they know can’t be with them 24/7. Under those circumstances, limiting access to a comforter seems a little mean.

Then again, she is a very sociable child and very capable of making friends. Her teeth are clearly suffering and she seems lively and happy when she has no access to her comforter or is engaged in an activity and has no reason to be thinking about it.

So come on readers, what is your opinion? Maybe you’ve been through this with your own children? Would it be wrong to slowly wean Elizabeth from her comforter or does that strike you as a bit mean? Please leave a comment and let me know.

6 thoughts on “Should we limit access to our daughter’s comforter?”

  1. Notmyyearoff

    She sounds just like my niece, they had to cut her comforter up into two as her parents were petrified of losing it and wanted a spare. The gap in her teeth sorted itself out over time and they tried so many times to wean her off it and it eventually worked when she started school. I think my niece was just ready. I have no advice, just wanted to say I think they all wean themselves off eventually. Ooh you’ve just reminded me my brother (who is now 35) was exactly the same. I need to remind him 🙂

    1. Yeah, gaps in teeth will sort themselves out but cheeky little Elizabeth has got a much bigger gap than her sister did. Anyway, we’ll get there in the end I’m sure!

  2. We had a stern talking to from the dentist about the fact that thumb sucking was causing irreparable damage to our children’s palates. Both kids (3 1/2 and 7) only sucked their thumbs when they had the comforters. We decided weaning them off the comforters wasn’t going to work (it hadn’t worked with the 7 year old who still sucked his thumb at night) so we went cold turkey and sent the comforters on a “holiday” to grandma and grandad’s house. We remained vague about when, if at all, this holiday would end.

    Thumb sucking stopped almost immediately in both children. The pain of separation from the comforters lasted no more than a few days. Other cuddly toys were immediately adopted at bedtime but this didn’t lead to any resumption of thumb sucking. We told the kids we’d check on them while they were asleep and if they weren’t sucking their thumb they would get a treat the next day (ironically, since we were doing this for the sake of their teeth, this was usually a sweet). A year down the line and it’s all fine although we do occasionally get requests for the return of the comforters.

    In short – my advice is assuming there are other cuddlies available at bedtime, go cold turkey on the comforter and use rewards if the thumb sucking stops..

    1. Great advice Mark. We went for a similar approach with out eldest child to stop thumb sucking. After about a week it had all but stopped. Her teeth have straightened out, just as well as she’s now getting adult ones. Apparently what can happen (as you were probably told) is that the jaw itself can get bent out of shape. This isn’t the only reason we want to wean her off the comforter, but it is a compelling reason.

  3. We waited quite a while with our oldest son, but then decided that the comforter had to go.

    Instead of taking it away, we decided “together” that some one else needed it more than him. So in the end we gave it to the “bird babies” while he wasn’t there. Today I can’t see how or why he believed the story, but he did at the time and all is well since then and ne never asked for it again, Go figure…

    1. I’ve been trying to slowly remove the comforter form Elizabeth. The thing that has struck me is how much she asks for it when it isn’t around. Further evidence we need to slowly put it away! I salute your successful efforts. I think we may be in for the long haul.

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