Playing With Daddy: Social toy Play, Early Head Start, and Developmental Outcomes




Lori A. Roggman, Lisa K. Boyce, Gina A. Cook, Katie Christiansen, and DeAnn Jones

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Early Head Start Home-Based Option


Research on fathers in Early Head Start (EHS) has provided an opportunity to study fathers from low-income families. We examined father-toddler social toy play in relation to EHS enrollment, fathers’ psychosocial well-being, and children’s developmental outcomes in a sample of 74 father-toddler dyads. Overall, our results show that father-toddler social toy play was more complex among fathers in an EHS program than among those in a comparison group. Greater complexity in father-toddler social toy play predicted better cognitive and social developmental outcomes for young children, especially in the program group, but it was limited by fathers’ psychosocial well-being in the comparison group and by time availability in the program group. Nevertheless, the impact of EHS on father-toddler play suggests that an early intervention that targets father involvement can influence positive father-toddler interactions in ways that enhance early development. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Home Visit Observations
  • Standardized assessment tools
  • Surveys or questionnaires



For More Information

Roggman, L. A., Boyce, L. K., Cook, G. A., Christiansen, K., & Jones, D. (2004). Playing with daddy: Social toy play, Early Head Start, and developmental outcomes. Fathering, 2(1), 83–108. doi: 10.3149/fth.0201.83
Author Contact Information:
Lori A. Roggman


  • Participant, Family, and Program Outcomes