Play time is a very important activity for children. We may think of children playing as something simple, innocent, and meaningless, but in reality play is a sort of training your child undergoes that is preparing them for the adult world.
For most animals, all they need to play with is themselves and maybe some siblings. This is because the most complicated training a cat needs is running, climbing, hiding, and fighting. But humans are tool users. Every single day we use countless tools to make our lives easier, and we could not live without them. Imagine life without a cooker, pots and pans, a computer, a home with doors that lock, shoes, clocks, chairs… We need our tools to survive and thrive. But, unlike animals, we aren’t born knowing how to handle these things.
This is where toys come in.
We still develop the same way animals do: moving through a series of learning steps and adapting to what is around us. But we need practice using tools as well. Some tools are complicated; others can be dangerous. We can’t just give an infant a padlock and a knife and let them learn. We need to adapt the tools to our children, make them simple for tiny hands, make them safe, and break them down into a step-by-step process which lets them learn so that when they get a real tool, they know how to use it.
This means that for different stages in a child’s development we need different toys, based on what motor skills they are developing, how their brain is evolving, and what they need to know, at that age, to be safe and happy.