When you were a baby or a young child, you likely received some kind of stuffed animal or blanket that became your favorite toy. You probably carried it around everywhere and slept with it every single night. But invariably, as you grew older, you put the toy into storage, sold it, or gave it away to a younger sibling. However, you might still have that toy or blanket in your bed with you every night — even as you age past your teenage years into adulthood. If that's you, don't worry. You're in good company.
While there is a stigma attached to keeping a childhood bear or blanket into adulthood, people who keep their childhood toy can be just as well-adjusted as their toy-less peers. Your baby blanket provided you comfort and security as a child, causing you to become emotionally attached to it. Humans tend to believe that inanimate objects of all kinds are of greater value to us than just their function or appearance. This belief is called essentialism.
Essentialism is why you'll probably feel upset if someone took your stuffed bear away and replaced it with one that looked exactly the same. While the replacement has the same physical characteristics as the original, it is not the same exact one you grew up with. Because of that, all of the emotional attachment is lost.
Up until the 1970s, this emotional attachment was seen as unhealthy and a failure of parenting. But more recent research has combated these ideas. In 2000, a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that kids who had their cherished blankets with them at the doctor's office experienced less stress, based on blood pressure and heart rate. Their security blankets helped them calm down and relax during a distressing event. As children grow up, their favorite bear can help them cope with leaving elementary school or even starting high school or college. But while the need for that comfort might eventually fade, the emotional attachment does not.
In fact, more adults than you might think have held onto their childhood toy or blanket. A 2010 survey conducted in the United Kingdom found that more than half of Britons still had a teddy bear from childhood that they slept with at night. Additionally, 25 percent of men said they even took their bear on a business trip with them because it reminded them of home.
Psychologist Corrine Sweet told The Telegraph that cuddling a childhood toy “evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort. It's human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life."
So, psychologically speaking, it's not strange or weird to hang on to a childhood blanket or bear into adulthood. Life isn't always easy and having something to help you cope with stress is always a good thing. Don't put away your favorite toy just because society says you should have outgrown it by now.