I've witnessed this sad site many times, and although I can sympathize with these parents, I can't say that we've ever experienced it. Want to know our secret? Buddy doesn't have a favorite blankie or bear or paci. He has 2 bears that he now sleeps with, but they don't leave the crib. Sometimes we take one out to wash it, but he has the other so never seems to mind. Sometimes Buddy does like to bring his blankets around the house with him, but he never holds onto the same blanket for more than a day or two. We throw them in the wash before he can get attached and impart all of those gross smells kids refuse to let go.
So maybe I'm kidding myself thinking that I don't have to worry about the dreaded meltdown when my child realizes his lovie was left at the grocery store, but at nearly 2 years old, we've never come close to this problem. If you want to avoid it with your little one, switch out the favorite blanket and toy so you can avoid the heartbreak and wash their things. Ya know, when you can finally get around to actually doing the mounting piles of laundry. Because it's not just me who has 3 loads ready to go next to the washing machine, right?