A parent's guide to searching for a lost toy

Parenting Styles   |   Age: 1 year 8 months

A parent's guide to searching for a lost toy
Toys are bound to get lost (and sometimes found), but when a favorite toy of your baby's is misplaced, it will probably feel like the end of the world. You'll also probably wonder how long you're supposed to keep looking for it. When should parents decide it's time to move on to other things? How should you break the news to your baby, and how do you stop feeling guilty about how sad your baby looks?

There's no one right answer, but there are some things to keep in mind for when it inevitably happens to you and your baby.

Starting the search

Don't panic. Reassure your baby and remind her that you'll find the toy. Start the search by looking in every place your toddler has been. She will likely forget a few places, so you'll probably need to lend your memory to the cause.

Some parents suggest posting a message about the lost toy on social media, or making 'wanted' signs like you would for a lost pet. If either of those feels like a good idea, go for it! If you have the time, you could also do a deep clean of your home; you never know what is going to show up in the couch cushions, under the bed, etc.

How long should you search?

It's hard to say how long you should continue to search for the toy. Depending on how attached your baby is to it, how long she wants you to look, and your schedule, you could spend anywhere from five minutes to two hours (or more!) looking for the toy. It's up to you and your baby; just try and be aware of the fact that this could be pretty devastating for your toddler.

If you don't find the toy

Prepare to comfort your toddler, and don't be surprised if she doesn't get over the loss right away. Certain toys remind your baby of you, and in a way, losing them can feel a little bit like losing a friend.

If your baby is distraught, you could pretend that the toy is traveling, and give your baby 'notes' from the toy's trip. Some parents go so far as to buy another of the same toy, and take pictures of it in different places to show to their toddler. A little extreme, maybe, but helpful if nothing else comforts the toddler - again, it's up to you to decide what's necessary and what could help.

Moving forward

It's not quite like the pain of a breakup, but the loss of a beloved toy can really hurt, so try to be sensitive around your baby for a while, depending on how quickly she gets over it. In the future, it might help to establish a rule that restricts favorite toys to your home. If the toys keep getting lost in your home, maybe even restrict them to your baby's room.

We've all had a beloved toy that mysteriously disappeared one day, and was never seen again. But that doesn't make it any easier to handle when the same thing happens to your baby. It's hard to explain how or why some toys feel so special. But if you've ever found yourself reunited with a beloved toy from your childhood, then you know the feeling that your baby gets when she sees her favorite toy. You can't prevent toys from getting lost, because that would be impossible. But you can make it easier for your baby, starting by seeing things from her perspective.

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