In America, we acknowledge the usage of “security blankets” or soft objects (such as a stuffed animals) among infants and toddlers, yet it is not very publicly mentioned and sometimes, it even has a negative connotation attached with the topic. However, looking at cross cultural experience from living in France, I noticed that a “security blanket” is a widely popular and accepted item for an infant or toddler to have with them (regardless of the context in which the infant or toddler finds themselves). Because of this difference cross culturally, it sparked my interest to look into the effectiveness and effect such an object has on infant/toddler development.
A “security blanket” or soft object in which an infant/toddler attaches, is a relatively portable object that is harmless if left alone with a child. This object is marketed towards parents that have infants or toddlers from newborn to about three years of age. Although this object is rather controversial in America, advertisers claim that (in children that attach to such an inanimate object), “Much like a pacifier, a security blanket helps calm your baby, helps them focus on something when you can’t be with them, and keeps them company and brings them comfort in their cribs overnight.” (Anonymous, 2017)
I find this advertisement and claim of attachment to inanimate objects quite fascinating since chapter 11 in the textbook “Development in Infancy: A Contemporary Introduction (Fifth Edition)” by Bornstein et al. talks specifically about infant attachment (particularly infant attachment to primary caregivers and others) and its effect on infant and later development. In this chapter, attachment is defined as “Specific, enduring, emotional bonds whose existence is of major importance in social and personality development; infant’s first social relationships, often with parents”. (Bornstein et al., 2014) However, in this specific instance, attachment is extended to include inanimate objects such as a “security blanket”. I found it enriching and necessary to first understand attachment in regards to parent-infant interaction before expanding it to non-social attachments. From the literature, it is understood that social attachment between the primary care giver and the infant is extremely important for infant development and effects on children and adults later in life. (2014)
In the journal article “Attachments to Inanimate Objects: Are Children Who Have Security Blankets Insecure?” by Passman, an understanding of the research performed in regards to attachments that children acquire with inanimate objects starts to become more clear. Passman described a plethora of studies performed with infants and parents to study the effects of these attachments. Passman notes that these attachments are considered by many Americans (and in other cultures) to describe children who are insecure or insecurely attached. However, research has shown that this widely popular belief has little to no correlation with children who have become securely attached to inanimate objects and in fact, evidence shows that infants and toddlers are able to form attachments to these objects if they are securely attached to the mother. Cases have shown, however, that in poverty, some children can become insecurely attached to an object because of lack of attention from their primary caregiver. But for most children, attachment to these objects is formed because they have already formed a secure attachment with the mother. And interestingly enough, infants under the age of 12 months normally do not form these attachments, therefore, the appropriate age group should be targeted towards infants from 12 months up to three years of age. (Passman, 1987)
In conclusion, the research on the subject has enlightened my opinion of attachments to “security blankets” or inanimate objects. Before doing this research, I was pretty against the use of such objects in infancy, but now, I feel more open to the benefits of this kind of attachment. The product advertised is supported by this research, however, I noticed that most recent research on this topic was from the late 1980’s and so I would like to see more recent studies that also back up this research. But all in all, “security blankets” might not be as bad as for development as they are sometimes claimed to be and in fact, might aid in positive development of infants.
Written by: Ashley North (u0872610)
Passman, Richard H. “Attachments to Inanimate Objects: Are Children Who Have Security Blankets Insecure? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55(6) (1987): 825-30. US: American Psychological Association. Web. 16 Feb. 2017
“The 3 Best Baby Security Blankets (2017 Guide & Reviews).” Maternity Glow. N.p., 16 Jan. 2017. Web 17 Feb 2017.
Bornstein, Marc H., Martha E Arterberry, and Michael E. Lamb. Development in Infancy: A Contemporary Introduction. New York: Psychology, 2014. Print.
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