Friday, June 1, 2012

Transitional Objects - What & Why?

In our last post, we learned where the phrase “transitional objects” originated, and a little bit about Dr. Winnicott, the pediatrician/psychoanalyst who coined the phrase in the 1950s. As a refresher, a transitional object is a material object such as a blanket or soft toy that a baby or child associates a special connection.

Dr. Winnicott studied babies between the ages of four and twelve months and noted that these babies would often become attached to an object to which they associated “primordial” significance. Primordal means “characteristic of the earliest stage of development”. The babies would manually manipulate or stroke, suck or otherwise self soothe with the object. These objects were also very commonly a necessary object for a child to fall asleep. As an aside (a One Sassy Doctor safety disclaimer) this was the 1950s; when safe sleep research and the understanding about soft toys and bedding hadn’t originated.

Often, the parents of the child would value these transitional objects as well and have an understanding of how important the object was to the child. The object became important to the parent as well; as it soothed the baby making all happy. The transitional objects were portable and were part of the “get up and go” routine. Parents would also struggle with washing the object—wondering if the smell would change or worrying that the object may be destroyed in the process. Essentially, Dr. Winnicott learned that transitional objects were, for baby and parent, a protective factor for depression and anxiety.

We’ll discuss this more in our next post, in the interim think about what your transitional object was as a child and let us know on Facebook (Play This Way or Sassy Baby Products) or Twitter (@PLAYTHISWAY or @SassyBabyToys)!

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