This morning, my 4 year old son hit my 20 month old daughter in the eye with a sock. My husband told me, “I think it’s time to take away his socks. The next time he hits her with a sock, I’m throwing them away. He’s getting too old for them anyway.” Some of you may be thinking it is weird to take away something like socks from a child. Should we take away toys as punishment? Yes. Screen time? Sure. An essential clothing item? Um … no. And how exactly can one be too old for socks? The thing is, the sock in question are actually my son’s lovey. (For those wondering, a lovey is a security item. It can be a thumbie, a blanket, a stuffed animal – basically anything that comforts a child.)
How did a sock become my son’s lovey?
Around 9 months old, my son started having a hard time falling asleep because he was teething ferociously. I am a worry wart, so there were only two things allowed in the crib at nighttime: a tight-fitting sheet and a swaddle/sleep slack. During the day, I would often place a swaddle blanket over him instead of swaddling him tightly. One day I noticed that he went to sleep much easier when he could clutch a handful of the fabric to chew. That night my husband and I looked for something small for him to chew in the crib. Everything we found was either too big or had a rattle in it. We finally settled on giving him a gym sock (clean, of course!) to take to bed with him, and it worked like a charm. He held the sock and fell fast asleep. The next day, I took my son to the mall and we shopped for a lovey. I thought I had found the perfect one for him, but at bedtime he cried and rejected the lovey. My husband put the sock back in bed with him, and he immediately grabbed it and went to bed. That is how a sock became my son’s lovey.
Throughout the years, my son’s preference for socks has changed. At first, any gym sock would do. Then he only wanted “right socks” AKA white ankle socks with a black Adidas logo. Since I only had a couple of pairs of them, I ordered a pack of 6 on Amazon so we would have spares. Unfortunately, those were slightly bigger and newer than the original ones and were quickly deemed impostors. I still try to pass off one of the new (identical!) socks to my son on days when three of his socks are in the laundry and the other one is downstairs, but he never takes the bait. When my daughter took to the Pottery Barn Kids bunny thumbie, I went ahead and bought five spares.
How old is too old for a lovey?
My son is almost 4.5 and still insists on having his lovey on his hand while he drinks his milk in the morning, and he won’t go to sleep without it at night. He takes it with him on airplanes, too. This morning when my husband said my son was too old for a lovey, I considered his opinion but didn’t quite agree. Then I asked the other New Orleans Moms Blog contributors when they thought a child was too old for a lovey. Here is what they had to say:
My daughter is 9 and she still has one. It stays at home or in the car. I see no problem with her having it.
I don’t think that’s something that has to get taken away, and mine went with me to college.
Um, mine got taken away from me in 5th grade. I still haven’t totally forgiven my parents for the deceptive way they did it, which I didn’t discover until high school.
My son has one and he’s 9. He keeps it in his backpack at school and sleeps with it, but mostly stopped carrying it around.
My daughter is 6 and still has hers, but it stays in her bed. I figured she can take it to college and I don’t care. I was more firm on the paci, the bedtime routine, and the bottle.
My daughter is a receiving blanket baby but she’s still a baby. I secretly want her to keep it forever!
My 8 year old son still loves “my first bear” and my 6 year old has “monkey.”
Neither one of my boys had a lovey. I even tried to get them to have one because I think it’s adorable, but no such luck.
I want them to keep theirs forever!
The general consensus among the NOMB group was that there is no harm in holding onto a lovey well into childhood (and adulthood). It’s not like a pacifier or bottle that pose dental issues. As a child grows, the lovey becomes less of an integral part of their life, but its sentimentality usually doesn’t wain. One of these days, when my son no longer asks for his “right socks” I will put them in a safe place. I might even frame one for him.
Tell us, how old do you think is too old for a lovey?
My six year old has Bear A.Bear, a hand-me-down blue blanket bear. He didn’t like any of the new loveys we’d purchased, instead taking to the one that his cousin had rejected. We tried a new version of the same bear with no luck, so we’ve had this one repaired/upgraded with new satin (pilfered from the new rejected duplicate bear) when necessary. (Thank goodness grandma is a good seamstress.) I’m not sure we’ll ever take it away from him, but we do see him growing away from it: Bear doesn’t always go everywhere with us anymore, etc.
At 24, my lovey was the only thing I took with me upon evacuating for Katrina, much later than I should have. Turns out to be all i have left, due to MUCH more devastation then anyone thought possible. I don’t sleep with it anymore, my kids even play with it sometimes. For me, it’s my only tangible piece of my past and there’s no way I’m letting go. My kids each have a lovey (and imposter loveys for laundry day). I don’t see any harm whatsoever in having them around.
You’re never too old for a lovey. I still have mine. And I am 36. I could never get rid of him. He went through everything with me. My son is 5 and he still has his though there are days it never leaves his bed. I was the same way. I knew the appropriate places to take it and when to leave it behind even as a kid. It was always there and always good for a hug on the bad days when I was alone in my room.
My almost 3 year old has a lovey that he sleeps with and tries to carry around the house (I try to keep it in his bed so we don’t lose it because we have no back ups!). My husband has recently been telling him we need to have a “bye bye lovey party” (this is about the age my older son said bye bye to his paci at night) and I have strongly objected, so this is timely for me! I’ve slept with the same lovey (stuffed animal) for 34 years so I suppose I am biased ?