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Say Yes to "Blankie"

My boys never had a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, but my daughter is a different story (she loves her Barney). And she's not alone; 60 percent of American babies develop an attachment to a cuddly object at around 9 months, and the relationship can last well into the preschool years. But should you encourage such ties?

If your baby's attachment is interfering with her health or development  -- if she sucks her blanket instead of trying to talk, or is always quiet and withdrawn when holding her beloved  -- you should talk to your doctor. Otherwise, there's no reason to discourage use of comfort tools. Your baby's lovey is a surrogate "you," and it can help her manage everything from going to sleep to being dropped off at daycare and waving goodbye to you.

The bottom line: She doesn't always know what's coming next, and that dingy, tattered blanket or furry friend can help her cope with separation from you, and feel a greater sense of safety and control.