Within days of our daughter’s birth this summer, our house was packed with new toys and clothes from friends and family. If you’re like us, you probably received items that ranged from the wonderfully tasteful and thoughtful to the shockingly awful…the sort of eye-raising “why would any one buy that?” items that even the seagulls at the landfill avoid. Among all these riches, one item has risen to the top as the most cherished by our daughter: blanky.

It’s a well-known but rarely-acknowledged fact that, despite all the interesting and expensive toys flooding the market, it’s the simplest ones that last. This blanket is basically a square white piece of fabric, but to our daughter it’s so much more. It’s warmth. It’s comfort. It’s a chew toy. It’s a projectile. Periodically it’s even litter. A few weeks ago our babysitter lost her little blanky at the playground, and we basically fired the woman for gross negligence. After a brief panic we ordered an identical replacement, fearing the repercussions if it wasn’t an exact match. When it came a couple days later we handed it to our daughter, and her face lit up like a slot machine that just hit the jackpot. She immediately clutched it as hard as her little hands could, pulled it to her cheeks, and proceeded to suck on it.

I can’t say enough about the value of a good blanky to an infant. I highly recommend Little Giraffe brand, which is so soft and plush I’d consider buying boxers from them if they made it. While the “some assembly required” items gather dust in our closet, blanky is getting a work-out, and I’d rather someone blow the $20 on this rather than that battery-operated snow-globe picture frame, which I promise to tell them is “around here somewhere” next time they come to visit….