On comfort toys, and why they get us into deep doudou

The 2008 model Kaloo ‘Lilirose’ Bunny (let’s call it the ‘before’ shot).

One of the many things *they* tell you when you have a young child is not to encourage attachment to a comfort toy.  There are several theories on why that Snuggly Puppy or Blanky Wanky shouldn’t be your child’s constant companion in the early years including:
–  Encouraging them to develop emotional resilience without a crutch
–  Encouraging them to learn to self-settle at bed time
–  The hell on earth which ensues if Blanky Wanky gets accidentally thrown in the binny winny, or dropped on the floor at Kmart, or left behind at a friend’s house, or just, for no good reason, vanishes.

We experienced this particular kind of hell this week when Miss 4 lost her faithful friend, Smelly Bunny.   It’s all OK now though (stand down the National Guard!) because Smelly Bunny turned up,  but not before my husband and I debased ourselves squelching through nappy-filled rubbish bins and reaching into the darkest recesses of the crumby car seats in a desperate rescue bid.

Smelly Bunny came into our lives when Miss 4 was born. She was a generous present from a friend in England who has always been a giver of perfect gifts.   Of course, back then Smelly Bunny wasn’t smelly.  She was soft, and pink, and new, much like the baby girl whose birth she recognised.    She stayed that way for over a year, while Miss 4 squirmed and spewed and grew from a baby into a flouncy, bouncy bundle who loves everything pink and anything cuddly.   Miss 5 and Miss 4 both had dummies back then too (another thing *they* would disapprove of) and when we forced the oldest into dummy rehab, it seemed smart to make the youngest go cold turkey at the same time.  For Miss 4 (who was then about 18 months), the dummy came out, the thumb went in, and Smelly Bunny was incorporated into a strange sucking, smelling, rubbing ritual that continues to this day.  Whenever she is sleepy, or worried about something, Miss 4 covers most of her face with Bunny, sucks her thumb, rubs her nose, breathes in deeply and is instantly calmed.

Despite the unfortunate name, Smelly Bunny doesn’t actually smell bad but rather has a distinctly comforting aroma discernible only to Miss 4.  Wash day is always a drama; the timing has to be perfect to make sure Bunny is not only dry by bed time, but ‘seasoned’ appropriately to suit Miss 4’s fussy olfactory preferences.  The smell of washing powder is an absolute no-no!  Over the years, despite regular washes, Smelly Bunny has become more the colour of curdled milk than her original cupcake frosting pink.  I’ve cursed that rabbit so many times when the busy day is nearly done and the last thing between me and a cup of tea is locating someone’s bedtime friend.  This week, however, I had to admit that it’s not just Miss 4 who’s formed an attachment.

The first night of Smelly Bunny’s absence was easily dealt with as we’d all had a busy day at a family event and getting to sleep was no struggle.  Day 2 – a substitute bed buddy was found and Miss 4 was consoled with promises that Mummy would do lots of bunny-hunting the following day.   By Day 5, after my husband and I had genuinely searched every nook and cranny we could think of, we were starting to fear the worst.   Miss 4, who had been stoic, it must be said, totally lost it and wept in my arms saying she didn’t understand why her special friend had run away.  This rite of passage had to come eventually, but I had hoped it would be her own decision;  a moment of choosing to be a ‘big girl’ rather than a moment of feeling deserted by someone she loved.

I’m not alone in struggling with this journey.  Smelly Bunny is made by the European toy company Kaloo, in the style known by the cutesy French word ‘doudou’ (pronounced doo-doo), meaning a comfort blanket.  Kaloo revise their toy catalogue approximately annually, so the Smelly Bunny design (LiliRose 2008) is no longer available if, for example, you wanted to hunt down a replica.   Those with school girl French might remember that the French word for lost is ‘perdu’ (pair-doo).  So, if you happen to have lost a Kaloo doudou you can list it on a huge forum for desperate parents known as Doudou Perdu, in the hope that someone out there might be willing to offer a replacement!  Scrolling through the sob stories of all those other families whose bunnies and teddies and elephants had gone to doudou heaven was up there with the best Hollywood tear jerker.  Those toys are out there somewhere.  With all the odd socks and the pen lids. Living it up!

So, a full week later,  we had packed both girls off to school and kindy and were tinkering around the house when the Baby Boy went exploring in Miss 5’s bedroom – and led us to the scene of the crime.  Our Baby Boy is 1 now, and at a stage where putting things in and out of boxes, and cupboards, and the toilet, is a total hoot.  We didn’t realise he could open drawers yet though but, low and behold, he can.  And he has also clearly learned to hide a floppy, smelly bunny so far at the back of a drawer that the best private detective would be hard pressed to notice.

It was my husband who emerged like a gladiator from our eldest child’s room carrying the limp rag like a precious jewel.  And  I actually found myself shedding a tear!  Ridiculous, really, but perhaps not so surprising.  I was moved knowing how excited Miss 4 would be about the reunion, but also because that grotty little rabbit is a big symbol of her childhood.  As long as Smelly Bunny is on the scene, so is my baby girl.  And one day, inevitably, they’ll both be gone.

After 4 years of intensive love (and sniffing). Smelly Bunny – don’t be a stranger.



17 comments for “On comfort toys, and why they get us into deep doudou

  1. Tracy
    May 20, 2016 at 8:17 am

    Just came across and thank goodness as my
    Daughter, now almost two loves her ‘bunny’, a rabbit from the silly buddy range that is produced by Peter rabbit I think. But the main point that was encouraging as we’re not alone is the whole smell thing my daughter does, she basically rubs the ears, well almost stuffs the ears as close to nostrils as possible and snorts, yes snorts whatever smell she is smelling as much as possible and calms straight away. The worst is when I once tried to wash bunny, BIG mistake, the new smell of freshly cleaned bunny was totally rejected by little miss, panic stations! Now we just wash without soap and hope to God it doesn’t resemble a small Petrie dish of germs on the inside.

    • This Charming Mum
      May 24, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      I know what you mean! There is something precious about the smell and stains. I guess that’s what makes it unique!

  2. patti
    January 22, 2014 at 3:46 am

    I looked and they still use the fabric, to bad you couldn’t get the name of it and replace it yourself. That is what I did with my little ones bunny. I started making them myself…Lost one an ordered another one, such a sad thing to loose one and hard to replace it.

  3. August 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I particularly enjoyed the description of your husband emerging from your eldest child’s room like a gladiator. (Woof Woof!) This sort of thing is always occuring at Chez ‘Abulous. A mobile phone went AWOL for three months before turning up in a drawer in the guest room.
    Love Mumabulous
    PS: I met my fairshare of blanky wankies prior to kids. I worked in stockbroking – Nuff said.

  4. Kelly Miller
    July 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Love the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots,
    OUR ‘Sleepy Ted’ still travels with us after almost 10 years, we do have a substitute ‘sleepy puppy’ but that is ONLY last resort, I’m tipping Sleepy Ted will have his passport stamped too when we go to the US later this year.

    • This Charming Mum
      July 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

      That’s sweet. I love that big boys still need their cuddly toys. 🙂

  5. Lee
    July 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Beautiful story Lara!
    My Master 9 1/2 year old still sleeps with his life long pal since birth – a Winnie the Pooh bear all the way from a relative in London! He will always pack his Pooh bear for holidays and sleepovers at Grandma’s house too. Luckily, I don’t think we have ever misplaced Pooh, but he’s always been by his side at sleep time. I think its still cute to see my 9 year old cuddling his Pooh bear alseep – he’ll only be a kid once and it reminds me of how young he still is (even if he is almost as tall as me)!!

  6. Renay
    July 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I loved this story, reminded me very much of the green knitted “Bun Buns” that made its way to us in the UK when my first girl was born. It is still being carried around to this day and bedtime just isn’t bedtime without him. And wouldn’t you just know it bbut the same “present giver” has kept up the tradition and given one to my youngest who it seems is also becomming quite attatched. Lovely story 🙂

    • This Charming Mum
      July 20, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      That’s lovely Renay. My youngest doesn’t seem to have settled on any one thing as yet. I’m hoping he might pick something a bit more common – then we can buy 3 of them! Bun Buns sounds very sweet. Thanks for reading x

  7. July 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Gorgeous story Lara! I’m so pleased that it had a happy ending ♥

    • This Charming Mum
      July 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

      Me too Leah. Miss 4 probably would have gotten over it eventually – but I’m not sure about Mummy! 🙂

  8. Karen Beaumont
    July 20, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I can certainly relate to this one and have fingers and toes crossed that we don’t leave a pillow pet in Paris. Great read, thank-you.

    • This Charming Mum
      July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Oh goodness yes. At least pillow pets are pretty bulky – harder to bin them accidentally. Good luck 🙂

  9. Tracey Mason
    July 20, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Welcome home, Smelly Bunny. As much a part of the family as Charlie the cat.

    • This Charming Mum
      July 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      Absolutely. Thanks for reading 🙂

  10. Tanya Gill
    July 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Oh, Lara. A story close to my heart!! Matthew is seldom parted from his beloved Patchy and as he turns four on Sunday, we are starting to wonder how far this will go. However, there have been a few moments in Matthew’s toddler life when Patchy has been missing – the first time will be forever embedded in my memory along with the feelings of grief that I, myself, was having at the possible abrupt and unplanned loss of our dear friend. And then there is our most recent trip when Patchy took a spontaneous dive into the fast flowing Carnarvon Creek as we rock jumped across it!! I shouted at Tony to forget the expensive bloody camera slung over his shoulder, that was preventing him from jumping in, and just bloody GET PATCHY!!! Fortunately Patchy was swept towards a big rock and was captured with the aid of a long stick. Sigh. The things we do for our darling’s dou dous!!
    P. S. I have been a little tied up with my new busy work and study life, but do still try and read your blog when I can. Always enjoyable!

    • This Charming Mum
      July 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

      Oh Tanya, the Carnarvon Creek incident makes me shudder! I’d have been the same – you can buy another camera! Thanks very much for reading. I hope all those different bits of work, study, family life etc are ticking along well for you x

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