Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
See also A Word on Toys
A “transitional object” helps your baby transition from needing you all the time to wanting this object when you’re not around to, in the future, just being a secure little kid. Most often it’s a small soft item, usually a square of blanket, that your infant or baby can attach to emotionally that will comfort him in your stead when he wakes up in the night or is feeling insecure when he is out and about. It It’s like your smart phone.
Since it’s no longer considered safe to put blankets or stuffed animals in the crib with your little one, the market for the kind of blankies and teddies you and I grew up with has narrowed to what are usually called “lovies/loveys,” “snugglers,” or sometimes still “blankies.” They’re small blanket squares, usually with a plush bit and a silky bit (’cause babies love textures), and – I don’t know how else to put this – a decapitated stuffed animal head attached. They look weird but seem to serve the purpose.
The theory is that a.) if the blanket is small and made of breathable material, the baby can’t get tangled in it or suffocate under it if he pulls it over his face (an unnerving and common infant habit), b.) there is still enough blanket to allow him to grasp it, stroke it and rub the textured bits, and b.) the stuffed animal part has a friendly face to keep him company. Makes sense.
I like Douglas Cuddle Toys‘ options, especially the giraffe. Astrid still has no use for her duckie but I continue to keep it in her crib and take it along on trips just in case she’s keeping her attachment to it exclusively private. Despite our daughter’s non-attachment, I would recommend that you get one of these. Most kids I know love theirs, as intended and, particularly if you plan on doing sleep training at some point, a familiar friend in the crib is a good thing.
(I wonder sometimes if Astrid would have liked one with more features – more patterns, the giraffe’s little horns, etc. You might consider getting one with a little more variety when you buy. Just a thought. There’s a short write-up, with an eye to sleep training, on selecting a lovey here.)