NIH Infant and Toddler (Baby) Toolbox

Main Area of Focus

The NIH Infant and Toddler Toolbox (aka the “NIH Baby Toolbox” or NBT) is in development as a neurodevelopmental measurement tool that will be targeted for both research and clinical use in children 1- to 42-months of age and primarily include direct/objective child assessment but also parent/guardian report, where appropriate. The NIH Baby Toolbox is being designed largely from existing, published, and validated tests and protocols that have been used and accepted in the cognitive-, social-, behavioral-, and neuroscience-developmental fields. As planned, the NIH Baby Toolbox will be inexpensive to obtain, easy to administer within a relatively brief time frame appropriate to the population being studied, and able to capture multiple domains of neurodevelopment. These domains include: Cognition & Executive Function, Language, Numeracy/Early Mathematics, Self-Regulation, Social Functioning, and Motor. This work represents an extension of the current and widely used NIH Toolbox® for Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function suite of assessment tools for use in persons 3 years to 85 years of age. The NIH Baby Toolbox is being developed for use with an iPad and utilizes built-in eye-tracking and short clips of video recording to enable accurate, objective scoring, reaction times, and speed of habituation. The complete battery will be made available for assessment in both English and Spanish. Validation activities are ongoing. Norming activities are planned to take place in 2023. At that time, the measures will also be available for validation in clinical population(s). Full public release of the NIH Baby Toolbox is scheduled to take place in 2024.


In 2006, the NIH Blueprint awarded the NIH Toolbox® contract to develop a standard set of instruments to measure neurological and behavioral health in persons ages 3-85 to ensure that assessment methods and results could be used for comparisons across studies, thus maximizing the utility of data collected by NIH grantees. The same developers competitively won an additional NIH Blueprint contract awarded in 2019, to create an extended standard set of neurodevelopmental assessment measures in younger ages – namely in children 1- to 42-months of age, thus enabling a tool for the full life-course assessment of neurological and behavioral health to be shared by investigators and clinicians. The 5-year contract engages a national team of researchers led by Richard Gershon, PhD, at Northwestern University, for the creation of this NIH Infant and Toddler Toolbox (aka the “NIH Baby Toolbox” or NBT).


Kathy Mann Koepke, PhD
Lead NIH Project Officer, NIH Baby Toolbox
Division of Extramural Research, Child Development and Behavior Branch

Richard Gershon, PhD
Principal Investigator, NIH Baby Toolbox
Feinberg School of Medicine
Northwestern University

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