“Just one more bite.”
“Just five more minutes.”
“I won’t be able to sleep if you take it away.”
“Pleeeeassse mommy, it relaxes me.”
Those were the daily pleas I would hear from my 5-yr-old daughter. Her begging and desperation would make me cringe but weakened me at the time. I automatically would give into her binge.
My name is Hope and my daughter is a recovering blankie sleeper and sucker.
Just like the pacifier or thumb my baby relied on her blankie to soothe. At first, her habit was innocent, common almost an adorable behavior most infants and toddlers go through. Of course, as parents we want to believe our child is more advanced than we were as kids and we have wiser more effective strategies to help them take the “edge off” rather than rely on a crutch. However, when I witnessed my child go from a moody irritable monster to the most beautiful precious sleeping angel every night once that blanket hit her lips, I found myself becoming the enabler instead of the enforcer. I would assure myself it wasn’t so bad by saying things like, “It’s only a phase. If it calms her down let that be the worst thing she does. But she’s only 2, only 3, only 4…”
Then one month after her 5th birthday I panicked, “Holy shit my daughter is a blankie addict and I’m her dealer.” I was making the product look too good to give up. I mean she had a beautiful stash. They were washed, folded and sat perfectly in her bottom drawer for her to choose. Ballerinas one day, blue elephants the next and pink polka dots with satin finish as back up, just in case she went through her supply before she fell asleep. They looked so scrumptious; even I was curious how they tasted. I knew she would never be able to kick the habit unless her father, family members and myself supported her through this scary and stressful change. Finally, my husband and I got on the same team. Our cheer was, “Say no to the blankie no matter what!” We shook on it.
First, came the intervention. “Sweetie we challenge you to not use your blankie for five days. In return, you can stay up late, watch TV and get a reward in the morning.” I was fearful we would replace one bad habit with another, but helping her stay away from her “fix” was my first and only priority. Then came the withdrawal process. We survived it, but it was tough. There were many times she would give me sad eyes and whimper. I just wanted to cave. I would whisper to myself, “Say no to the blankie no matter what!” We also used positive reinforcement. We reminded her how much we loved her, encouraged her to be a big girl and find big girl things to help her sleep, like music or books.
After five sleepless nights the true test came. Could my daughter sleep in her own room without her dependent? She did it! My princess may still give us an hour-long argument about her bedtime, but at least it’s no longer with the blanket hanging from the side of her mouth.