Exclusive Interview about Toddlers with Sarah Holding

EDITORS NOTE: We have fixed the error where text was cut off mid-way through the interview. Happy reading! 🙂

Incase you’ve missed the breaking news in The Sims community – Toddlers are now available in The Sims 4 as a free game update! Go forth and update your game and start enjoying the cuteness of this little surprise!

Let’s take a quick step back to when The Sims 4 launched in 2014. A fantastic foundation for the future of the franchise although one feature was absent that players, especially generational players, wanted to see. Toddlers. That word soon became a little bit of a taboo word and a mention of it would usually provoke some interesting discussions amongst fans (I learnt that with my April Fools in 2015, sorry about that!). For instance, if we take a step back to the Simmers Meetup 2015, there was a moment I was trying to keep attendees’ attention away from the fact that Rachel Franklin and Lyndsay Pearson (from The Sims Studio) were about to enter the building. I shouted “What do you want to see in The Sims 4?” and everyone shouted “Toddlers”. It was at this moment that I realised how important this was to people.

But Maxis has been listening since The Sims 4 released and heard the community loud and clear. With this feedback in mind, and plenty of time to create this, they got to work to create todders, and they’re back better than ever. We had the exciting opportunity to interview The Sims Studios’ Sarah Holding, Associate Producer for The Sims 4, and Lead Producer for Toddlers, to ask a variety of questions about their return to the franchise and to find out more for you.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us what your role is at Maxis and your role with the development of the Toddler Game Update?

Hi! I’m Sarah Holding. The mysterious SimGuruGnome and I were the lead producers for the Toddler Game Update.

How excited are you for toddlers to launch today?!

Soooooo excited! And nervous! And excited! And energized! And hungry? So many feelings ;_;

This game update seems very “player focused” as it’s clearly something that the community has been very vocal about over the last two years. Did the community’s voice help you throughout this development process?

The community has definitely played a big role in the development of this feature. We had a lot of feedback from the community via the forums, twitter and fan sites about what they would like to see most with Toddlers, and took that feedback into account when we started working on the Toddlers design for The Sims 4.

How long have you been working on Toddlers in The Sims 4? What initiated the team to begin development?

We’ve talked about Toddlers on LOT on the Development team, and we’ve talked about them for a long time. What we’d like to do with them, what the community would like to see, what they might look like, how they might act. We always knew we were going to add Toddlers to The Sims 4 at some point, we just weren’t sure when.

How did you want to differentiate toddlers from previous generations of The Sims franchise?

The most exciting thing that sets Toddlers in The Sims 4 apart from Toddlers in previous versions of The Sims is how visibly they learn and grow. With the Movement skill, players see the toddlers learn to walk faster, stumble less, and eventually run. The Imagination Skill has special VFX players can only see when the Toddler is selected, and these progress from basic shapes and colors to complex imaginary worlds. The Thinking Skill unlocks advanced options for flash cards and conversation. Lastly, players can also listen carefully to their Toddler’s Simlish to hear their sentences go from a few words and gibberish noises, to fully formed sentences as the Commination skill is gained.

Can you have Alien/Vampire Toddlers with Get To Work/Vampires GP? Do these behave any differently?

Yes, you can. Alien toddlers have Alien skin tones and eyes, and there is a unique Alien diaper available in CAS if you have Get to Work. Vampire toddlers will have vampire skin tones and eyes.

Note that Occult powers will not manifest until the toddlers grow-up, similar to occult children though.

Can you tell us more about the toddler skills and traits? Are these exclusive only to toddlers and will they benefit them later in life?

Toddler traits are exclusive to Toddlers, and include personalities like Clingy, Fussy, Independent, and Angelic. When the Toddlers age-up to Child they will lose their Toddler trait and select a new Child trait to replace it.

There are five Toddler specific skills: Movement, Imagination, Thinking, Communication, Potty.

The first four correlate to Child Skills and will give a skill level bonus to those skills when the Toddler ages up to a Child.

If your Toddler is skill level three for Movement, Imagination, Thinking, Communication skills when they age up they will unlock the Happy Toddler reward trait. If the Toddler has all of those skills at level 5 then age up they will earn the Top-Notch Toddler trait.

Do you know how many CAS and Buy/Build items there are in the Toddler update? Are there any particular “themes” for these objects?

There are more than three dozen CAS assets (including really cute glasses!). My favorite is what we’ve dubbed the “monster pajamas” – I dress all my toddlers in those.

The new objects have a couple of different themes. Monsters are a theme across many of the assets. There is a monster toy box, a monster potty chair, a new monster toy. Unicorns and castles are featured prominently on several objects (and in the Imagination skill VFX). Many of the objects are colored and themed to match the existing kids room furniture sets in base game. (Be sure to check all the variants on the new toddler objects!)

There is a new Toddler Sort under Kids that includes Toddler care objects like high chairs, potty chairs, toddler beds, etc., but those are not the only Build/Buy items added with the Toddler update. Some of my favorites are a new living chair that looks like a bear, a balloon floor lamp, and some really fabulous new curtains (please check out the curtains!).  Oh, and there is a new rug called “Color Theory” that I absolutely love, alongside a dresser that looks cubbies, walls, floors, wall decals, a new bookshelf that comes stocked with all of the new toddler books, a new door that has some really adorable chalk drawings on it, and more!

Can toddlers go up and down the stairs in-game without a Sim carrying them?

Once Toddlers gain Movement Skill level 1 they can climb stairs on their own. Prior to that other Sims will need to carry them up the stairs. As their Movement Skill level progresses they will be able to climb the stairs faster.

Are there any unique interactions between different ages and toddlers? E.g. Will a Child be able to do things that an Adult Sim can’t do, or vice versa?

We tried to make as many interactions as possible work with all age groups, though Children can’t do some things like give a Toddler a bath, or a change a diaper.

Were there any particular features that the team wanted to hone in on when creating toddlers for The Sims 4?

We were very focused on the Nurturing gameplay aspect of Toddlers. Caregivers need to help Toddlers solve motives and learn skills – they have to give them attention, and they need to take care of their basic physical needs like eating, bathing, and providing clean diapers. Taking care of a toddler is tough when they first age-up from being a Baby, but it gets easier as the Toddler grows and they become more independent.

Some of my favorite moments are at bedtime. You can tuck your Toddler in or you can read them to sleep. Toddlers can have nightmares and they may wake their parents up at night, then needing to be comforted and tucked back in before they go back to sleep.

The Sims 4 was all about the heart and soul of our Sims. With this in mind, will toddlers have emotions and how will these affect their behaviors and interactions with other Sims?

Toddlers do have emotions. They can be happy, sad, energized, playful, and angry.

Toddlers have a new motive: Attention. They need to interact with their family members,especially their Adult caregivers, in order to keep this motive fulfilled. They need to be hugged and played with, and read stories and bathed and talked to regularly -otherwise they’ll become sad and angry from neglect. Sad and angry Toddlers will throw tantrums, which will cause other Sims to become stressed.

Can you, the player, control toddlers? Or are they unselectable like babies?

Players can control toddlers.

In the render, there is a toddler eating food out of a bowl – can they only drink milk or can they eat normal food now?

Toddlers can eat almost anything other Sims can eat, though they are picky eaters and may refuse certain foods like spicy foods or pufferfish. But never fear! We’ve added new toddler friendly foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, applesauce, and animal crackers.

Toddlers can also drink milk, apple juice, and water from a Toddler sippy cup.

Do you view toddlers as being something that could have new content added for in the future? For example, new CAS items with Stuff/Game/Expansion packs?

We definitely will be adding new Toddler content going forward where it fits.

Thank you for taking your time to answer our questions about Toddlers! Is there anything else that you wish to share with our readers and members of the community?

I hope you enjoy playing with Toddlers in The Sims 4. I’ve worked on every version of The Sims that has Toddlers, and I sincerely believe these are the best Toddlers we’ve ever made. They are the perfect combination of cute, chaotic, and challenging, and I hope you have lots of fun playing with them.


TODDLERS are now available as a free game update for The Sims 4. Simply open Origin to update your game and start playing! A big thank you to Sarah Holding from The Sims Studio for answering our questions for the Q&A.