When I invented Your Baby, the baby line of toys for Hasbro in 1970-71, it was the first comprehensive developmental line of infant toys of its kind. It is hard to believe that there were no infant playthings in toy stores prior to 1970.
My Ph.D. allowed me full access to Brown University, where they were doing cutting-edge research in baby development. In 1970 mothers for the most part regarded their baby as someone you nurtured and not seriously taught until many months after birth. Besides rattles, mobiles, and stuffed animals, there were no well thought-out substantial baby playthings.
The closest thing to a baby toy, the mobile, had its pretty pictures on a vertical plane. Everyone entering the nursery saw delightful pictures in full color while the baby saw the edge of the pictures. The first thing I did was design a mobile whose pieces were on a horizontal plane so that the baby could see them. Paradoxically, when I invented Connect 4 I did the opposite. I designed a vertical strategy game while all other games played on a horizontal plane. There must be something about the horizontal and vertical planes etched in my DNA.
My approach was to invent toys that would enhance the specific needs of the baby in each of the baby’s developmental stages, from birth through two years of age. All the toys were made of the finest materials and employed safety features that set standards then and are still employed today. Each toy came in a box and was accompanied by a pamphlet written by me, describing each of the baby’s developmental stages along with pictures and descriptions of how to use each toy.
My objective in this baby line was to invent and design playthings which were simple yet beautiful, functional, and unique. I worked with a fine artist and wonderful model makers at Hasbro. I drove everyone crazy. I pushed them to the limit as far as safety was concerned. All that we did was new to the industry; even our packaging was unique. For one of our promotions we distributed a special rattle as a gift to several hospitals’ maternity wards.
While I am proud of all that I have achieved in a 40-year career, the “Your Baby Growing to Meet the World” line of baby toys is one of my proudest achievements. This was very special for me because I did this at the very beginning of my career. Up until then I had licensed only three games to Pressman toys. Today when I look at these 17 toys, I am surprised at how well they compare to today’s baby toys. I believe the purpose and functionality and the pure design are stunning. I am encouraged to talk to Hasbro in the near future and discuss revisiting these toys. I would also like to show these baby toys to MOMA in New York for the possibility of being exhibited at the museum.