If you’re not careful, having an infant will cost you a small fortune. Some expenses are unavoidable, but many can be avoided.
Toys are a great example. Babies don’t need fancy, expensive toys. They’re typically content with the basics: rattles, blocks, balls, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. In fact, if you look around your home, you likely have a number of household items that can double as baby toys.
You always want to consider safety when giving your baby something with which to play (this is true whether it is an actual toy or some other item). Use common sense. Don’t give your baby anything sharp, toxic, or small enough to be a choking hazard. If you keep this in mind, your infant can have a lot of fun playing with wide-ranging items.
Household items that make great baby toys
- Cardboard boxes. Boxes are incredibly versatile and they provide entertainment for children of all ages. When my daughter was in the 4 and 5 month range, I would dangle toys off the edge of a box turned on its side so she could kick at them. She’d enjoy this activity for 10 or more minutes at a time. When she began sitting but was still wobbly, I’d place her in a box so the sides provided support as she’d sit and play or watch me work. Now that she is a bit older, she enjoys sitting in caves created by boxes turned on their sides and she’ll soon be crawling through tunnels formed by boxes that have had their ends removed.
- Food containers with lids. My little girl loves knocking over towers built out of food containers. These are lightweight, so they are easy for her to pick up and manipulate. I’ll sometimes place smaller toys inside the containers so they make noise when knocked over. When the lids are removed, these containers can be turned upside down and placed on her head to make hats!
- Cooking utensils, bowls, and pots. Wooden spoons and silicone spatulas have been surprisingly effective teething toys for my little one. I’ll sometimes pair them with an upside down pot or bowl to create a drum for her to play. This is noisy, but so much fun! She also enjoys placing smaller toys into a large mixing bowl and exploring the texture of a colander. Because these items are in the kitchen, they provide convenient entertainment while I prepare dinner.
- Laundry baskets. Like boxes, I used a laundry basket to help support my daughter when she still wobbled while sitting. Now, she much prefers that my husband and I give her rides around the living room by pushing the laundry basket across the floor as she sits in it. She also enjoys it when I turn the basket over on top of some of her toys to “hide” them. She can still see them through the holes in the basket, which helps her understand the concept of object permanence.
- Dishtowels, bandanas, and other small cloths. My daughter is currently quite a fan of peek-a-boo. Small cloths, including dishtowels and bandanas, are perfect for playing this game. As a variation of peek-a-boo, I’ll gently toss one of these cloths onto her head and she’ll pull it off to reveal a huge smile. She also enjoys waving these cloths in the air and chewing on them.
Have your babies ever enjoyed playing with household items? Which were their favorites?