THE first time I came across a security blanket was in the Peanuts cartoon strip.

It was in the late 1970s and showed the character Linus carrying his blanket around while sucking his thumb.

Peanuts’ storylines usually include Linus’s older sister Lucy trying to get rid of the blanket. “You and that stupid blanket!” she is seen to yell. In one sequence, Charlie Brown asks: “Why does Linus hold his blanket like that?” to be told by Lucy: “I’m not sure…I think maybe it gives him a feeling of security.”

I did not come across a blanket in this context again until much later, when I became a mother. It was fairly common for toddlers at my daughters’ nursery school to have a special ‘blankey’, as the youngsters would pronounce it. This was usually a bit of torn, dirty rag that had been with them since birth and was irreplaceable.

I remember one evening, helping to retrace the steps taken by one desperate father, who had got half way home before realising that this vital piece of cloth was missing. He was terrified of the repercussions from both toddler and wife.

Thankfully, we found it quite easily - unlike a dropped £10 note, there was no danger of this soggy, stained piece of material that had undergone three years of sucking and chewing, being picked up by anyone other than a street cleaner.

It is little wonder that blankets originally used to wrap children up in bed, become comforters.

There are no precise numbers on how many people carry a love for their childhood blankie into adulthood, but a survey of 6,000 British adults by the hotel chain Travelodge found that 35 percent admitted to finding comfort from sharing their bed with stuffed animals.

In my teens I had plenty of friends who had difficulty getting into bed due to the number of fluffy toys laid out on top, and I know a number of adults who, today, still sleep with their childhood toys.

I’ve got one very precious childhood toy - a knitted doll, who I carried around as a toddler. She slept alongside me for a long time, although she was eventually relegated to a bedside shoebox - complete with pint-sized bedding. She lies beside my husband’s childhood toy, a goose made of sealskin, and a knitted rabbit, placed there to keep her company.

It sounds mad, but I always make sure the three of them are properly tucked up before I retire. Aside from my family and cats, they would be the first thing I’d save in a house fire.

The phenomenon of adults with security objects is “a lot more common than people realise,” says a leading psychologist from the University of Bristol, who observed that women in particular hang onto special, comforting items that they have had since childhood.

My sister has on her bed a knitted piglet from Winnie-the-Pooh that she was given as a child, and I know one woman whose bedroom is crammed full of teddies, who take turns sharing her bed. Some of them are quite large, covered with coarse hair and ferocious-looking. They can’t be at all pleasant to cuddle up to.

So far as I know, my daughters have no such attachment to any of their childhood toys. In fact, it upsets me to see their stuffed sheep, rabbits and teddies carelessly left on the floor. It is usually me who feels sorry for them, picks them up and places them on the bed.

Sadly, with many of today’s young adults, I don’t think any blanket, no matter how warm and comforting, or any cuddly toy, no matter how cute, has a hope of competing with their mobile phones.