Family & Parenting

Are You Ever Too Old For A Blankie?

35 percent of adults have some sort of item that provides them comfort, but is that normal?

Many of us had a blanket growing up. One boy in particular is famous because of his.

I had one, “Blankie,” and just like the writer of this story about what having a blanket as a kid says about you as an adult, I’d fall asleep with it scrunched up in my face so I could smell it. I loved that smell! Then one day, Blankie disappeared—my mom had something to do with it, though she always denied it. The same thing happened to our rowdy schnauzer puppy “Bach,” too. Parents can be like that, I suppose.

Lucky for all of us who had our own special blankets or other comfort objects as children, it turns out they serve a pretty helpful developmental purpose.

Linus with blanket photo
Photo by cimmy.redmond

Blankets, stuffed animals and the like are known as “transitional objects,” so defined by child psychologist Dr. D.W. Winnicott back in 1951.

They are things that infants and young children assign a special significance to and function as stepping stones, things the child can use to move from the early mother/oral stages to an object relationship.

They are also helpful when a small child goes off to daycare or another new childcare situation, as they help children cope with separation anxiety.

child with blanket photo
Photo by crimfants

Indeed, comfort objects are quite common—60 percent of kids have them, as do 35 percent of adults. Until the 1970s, psychologists thought this attachment to objects was a reflection of a shaky attachment to one’s mother, but that opinion has since changed.

According to Psychology Today, we’re never too old for teddy bears, and by extension, never too old for our blankets.

teddy bears photo
Photo by oatsy40

For most adults though, other comfort items tend to take the place of teddy bears and blankets—from journals for jotting down personal thoughts, to keepsakes or mementos that remind us of a loved to, or even a smartphone filled with pictures and the capability to connect to another person quickly.

child with blanket photo
Photo by mliu92

It turns out security objects know no age boundary—they just take different forms.