Meet Blankie and Bear. For identical twins, you couldn’t ask for two more different “loveys.” And ragged and worn as they may look, they’ve only been used for a year – not to mention, I only just washed them yesterday, so this is absolutely as sharp as they look these days. But it doesn’t have to be this way. I’m here to help you preserve your children’s loveys with knowledge I learned too late.
Blankie, as you can see, is missing about a third of her original material because someone thought it would be a good idea to embroider a baby’s blanket. It’s not. The embroidered corner ripped off, as did the hemline around it. By this time next year, I expect Blankie to be the size of a handkerchief.
Bear has been with the twins since before they were born. A gift from my brother in law, at one point, Bear had a soundcard inside of him that made the sound of the inside of a womb. I highly recommend this. Our babies fell asleep five times faster and without me having to rock their crib if the bear was on. When the twins were too big to share a crib, Bear moved in with Natalina. She was the lighter sleeper and having the sound-maker right next to her made the most sense. It is only natural he grew to be her best friend.
Dulce discovered Blankie at around 14 months. At first, she tried a watering can as her lovey, but it was just too hard. Blankie happened to be her covering in the crib the day she decided she also wanted a best friend.
In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, in tug of wars, and immersed in bodily fluids, these toys have prevailed. Natalina sucks on one of Bea’rs ears so much that no matter how clean I can get it, the fur is matted and discolored there. Lately, Dulce has been using Blankie as a partner in potty crime, cleaning up her spills so mommy won’t find out.
So, how can you keep your child’s loveys clean – or, at the very least – not disgusting? Let’s start at the beginning.
While, ultimately, your baby is going to grow attached to something on his or her own, you may be able to help guide the choice. If you can, steer away from the stuffed animals. They’re hard to wash, harder to dry, and often too big to pack on trips without a hassle. Go the blanket route, I strongly urge you. If you pick a blanket, try to pick one without any fancy embroidery or buttons or stick-ons, or anything that can tear off. Your child will tear them off, causing structural and often irreparable damage – I guarantee it.
Start washing the loveys on a regular basis right away. The younger the baby is, the easier it is for them to accept that this is the way things are going to be. If you wait, like I did, not only are you going to have a bacteria-ridden, disgusting toy to clean, you’re also going to have a rip-roaring mad baby or toddler on your hands. I now wash both Blankie and Bear in the washer, after having tried all other methods. I find this easier, quicker, and relatively sanitary.
Steps and tips:
Put the lovey in a pillowcase, and knot the open end. (This preserves the structural integrity of the toy. It also allows you to “hide” the fact that you’re daring to wash the lovey, as it’s unrecognizable in its bag.)
Throw the lovey in the wash with the towels or lights. Use vinegar in the cycle to thoroughly clean. Do not use bleach if you can help it.
Dry the lovey in the dryer, still in the pillowcase, with a few of the towels for an hour. Put a tennis ball in there. It keeps everything fluffy. Then, if it’s a stuffed animal, dry it again for another hour. I know it feels dry. It’s not dry.
If at all possible, do this in the morning. Maybe this won’t be true for you, but my babies will reject their loveys for hours after they come out of the wash. A tough naptime is much easier to deal with than a hard night of lovey rejection.
Keep an eye out for rips and tears. The sooner you repair these, the longer your lovey will last. If at all possible, have a back-up lovey or two (the exact same toy) and intodruce it the first time you wash the first lovey. (I didn’t do this, and I am dreading the day these toys finally wear out completely. At this point, my two year olds would know the difference and would not accept any other lovey, even if, to me, it’s the exact same thing. There will be much crying in this house one day.)
Finally, whenever possible, keep the loveys at home. It’s much easier to keep a clean lovey when the toy isn’t being dragged around the grocery store floor, being dropped at the doctor’s office, or having frozen yogurt dripped on it at the parlor. My twins are old enough now where we can make this a game: “Okay, time to go out. Put Bear and Blankie in bed. Oh, you don’t want to? Okay, I guess we’ll stay home then.” (This works almost every time.)
There are exceptions. When we go on a trip lasting over an hour, I’ll secretly pack Blankie and Bear and take them out at crucial we’re-going-to-turn-this-car-around moments. If it’s close to naptime, this means almost instant sleep. Otherwise, it justmeans happy babies.
Good luck in your lovey-preservation project. I hope it goes better than mine is going!