I am convinced that small children want to interact with real-world objects, not toys. This has proven true with all three of our babies. Toys are these things other than everyday life that are devoted to the singular task of entertainment.
Real world objects have purpose and meaning and appropriate use and we bear the weight of responsibility to learn how to approach them, how to use them, and how to protect them.
My 9 month old son Levi wants to hold the fork and the spoon and the roll of tape. He doesn’t care about the multi-colored noise-making caterpillar or the football made out of a rubber grid. These things are interesting once or twice, but it is in seeing mom and dad use real world objects that he learns what is important and what to want.
You could argue that if mom and dad played with toys more, the baby would as well. But it’s not just emulation. It’s a matter of conveyed importance. As long as parents take care of their dishes and garden hoses and checkbook and handbags, these are the items babies will want to explore.
How does this affect you? As a parent, if you in deed are or will someday be a parent, you have the opportunity to convey a world of importance to your child. Rather than relegating our children to a limited world of toys for the first few years of crucial development, why not consider integrating as many real world items into their lives as possible? It’s never to early to begin learning context and care.