Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Where Did The Concept of Transitional Objects Originate?

Here at Sassy Baby we’re developing toys for babies and toddlers and continually learning about the amazing growth and developmental aspects of play and attachment. One Sassy Doctor has received various questions regarding blankets (think “Linus” from the Peanuts cartoon!), pacifiers and soft toys—these are commonly referred to as transitional or comfort objects.

Our product development team and I learned quite a bit about the developmental and psychological foundations of transitional/comfort objects in writing these posts, and we hope you find them as interesting as we did here at Sassy Baby! In today’s post, we’ll explore the developmental and psychological foundations of this concept and explore some super cool historical information.

Although babies and toddlers have naturally connected to transitional/comfort objects throughout time, the term “transitional object” was first coined in 1951 by Dr. Donald Winnicott. He first spoke of the transitional object concept in a paper he read before the British Psycho-Analytical Society; published two years later as "Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena. A Study of the First Not-Me Possession."

Dr. Winnicott was one sassy, smart guy! He was both a pediatrician (he finished medical school in 1920) and a child psychoanalyst. He passed away in 1971 after a 40 year career focusing on development and attachment in infants and young children.

The term “transitional object” means any material object (such as a soft toy) to which a baby or toddler (or even a kid going to college with his blankie!) associates a special connection. In our next post, we’ll dive into Dr. Winnicott’s research and why he found this concept to be as fascinating as we do in Sassy Baby toy world!

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