One mom reflects on how expensive toys are not needed for babies to have fun and play!
Every parent has experienced it. It’s gift-giving time again, and you want to give your little one the perfect toys. You know the ones… toys that you’ve seen on commercials, and “those actor kids look like they’re loving it so why wouldn’t little Timmy?”Toys that your sister’s kid has, toys that you’ve eyed in the store and carefully clipped coupons for. Toys that claim to help with baby’s development and will actually make her smarter if she plays with them. Of course, by this point you’re wondering if you’re bad parent if you don’t buy the toy… so, like the rest of us suckers, you buy the toy. You find a box and wrap it up, delighted to give it to your growing baby. The big day comes, both of you wide-eyed with excitement. He opens the present, sees the toy, and immediately starts playing with the box and paper it was wrapped in. And there it is. You’ve already discovered the secret. Babies are simple.
It’s an age-old equation: kids + toys = a whole lot of money! But not all toys have to have “Hasbro” or “Fisher-Price” stamped on the side to make them fun. I’ve found that some of my 10-month old son’s favorite toys aren’t toys at all. They are safe, everyday items found right in our own home.
Most babies love to play with pots and pans. This is especially handy if you’re cooking! Put baby on the floor (away from the stove), and let her bang on pots and pans with a large wooden or plastic spoon. Our baby enjoys kitchen objects so much that I’ve tied a plastic cooking spoon to his walker. Kids also love to play with boxes. Bought a new TV or other large item? Save the box! You can set it up like a tunnel for smaller babies to crawl through or make it into a house for toddlers to play in. Even smaller boxes are great for stacking and making towers to knock over. An empty tissue box also makes a fun and different play object.
Bowls can be played with in a variety of ways. A clear plastic bowl is great because you and baby can drop brightly-colored objects into the bowl one by one and take them out. Bowls can also be a “hat” for mom or dad (this usually gets a laugh once they start to realize that it doesn’t go there!) or even on baby if using a mirror. Our baby even likes to turn it upside down and use it to scoot across the carpet by pushing it. You can use a small Tupperware or plastic bowl with tightly- fitting lid to make a rattle baby will enjoy and use! Just put wheat puffs or another snack in the bowl, seal the lid tightly, and let baby shake rattle and roll! (And snack, too!)
When it’s time to put away the laundry, let baby help. He can pull up to standing on a full basket and will enjoy pulling the clothes out one by one—extra points if you can get him to put them back in! You can use the clothes as blankets to play “where is baby?!” and the empty laundry basket as a car. Baby goes in the “car” and gently gets pushed around the floor. What a ride!
Most babies want to touch the same things mom and dad touch every day—this includes the TV remote. If you have an old spare remote you’re not using, it can be cleaned, batteries taken out, and used as a decoy toy.
Once baby has started cruising, make an obstacle course from dining room chairs with a “prize” at the end like a favorite toy or pacifier.
Other toy ideas are wooden or plastic coasters, larger lid tops from shaving cream or hair spray(washed and cleaned), hard plastic drinking cups, a DVD case (cleaned and emptied with any small parts removed), or if you have a wii, he may enjoy the plastic steering wheel.
We can all take a lesson from our babies. It doesn’t need to be expensive or showy to be fun. It’s about enjoying what you’ve got!
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