After packing and unpacking toys for three kids, I’ve realized that it’s really in every caregiver’s best interest to purchase items that grown-ups can use, too. Store-bought baby toys often look like hundreds of dollars in cheap, plastic, screaming-loud, blinky items that will not only collect dust, but will also teach your kids swear words when you stub your toes on them and will speak demonically in the middle of the night when their batteries always conveniently wear out.
For your children, what you really need are the basics:
- A rocket ship
- A race car
- A walker
- Connecting rings
- Bath toys
- A water table
- A Sand box
Let me talk more in-depth about where to get these items, and how you can use them in the future. (It’s not what you think…)
1. Rocket Ship
Your rocket ship comes from a Christmas-tree-sized cardboard box. A large cardboard box (to fit multiple kids) can be SO much more than a rocket ship, but this is my kids’ fave game. In a pinch, it’s also a heck of a playpen when you throw in a few soft toys. For the older kiddos, hand them a handful of markers, and you’ll have quiet for hours. When you’re not using it, break it down. Bust it out for moving when you want to store big, light things like comforters.
2. Race Car
EVERY kid wants a race car, they just don’t know it yet. Put any kid in a hamper and push or pull them around the house. Better yet, make an older sibling do it. Everyone needs an extra hamper. Perk…you can send this to college with your kid when they’re grown up.
Toddlers are seriously the cutest things ever, but saving them from tipping over on the reg can be a drag. Buy a stepstool. It makes a pretty fabulous walker on solid flooring. Tape the edges together so it doesn’t fold up. When baby outgrows it, keep the stepstool for yourself, or give it to a short friend like me.
4. Connecting rings
Connecting rings can make just about anything a pull toy. Skip the brand name ones in the toy aisle. Grab the 99 cent ones in the bathroom decor in the shape of shower curtain rings. If you don’t need them for your shower, save them for hair binders or rubber bands.
5. Bath toys
You probably already have enough to share! Turkey basters, measuring cups, and especially plastic strainers are the most fun in the bath. Obviously use your best judgement and always wash your kitchen tools that were just bath toys before using. Every kid pees in the tub every time they’re in it. Toss any squirt toy you receive in a baby shower immediately. Ain’t nobody got time to fish flaky mold out of their baby’s mouth.
6. Water table
I know, I know…you’re thinking those are expensive and totally seasonal. Wrong! Grab an under-the-bed storage container and put an inch or two of water in it. Throw in some items from the above bath toy suggestions, and voila! Best summer ever. This also doubles as a really, really, really inexpensive above ground pool.
Heyo. If you read #6 and thought, heck! I saw under-the-bed storage containers on sale! Grab two. These make pretty fab sandboxes or toy containers too. The lids keep everything in check, and they’re pretty great to keep indoors if you have an awesome vacuum.
You’re welcome. I just saved you a few hundred dollars. Seriously though, take 95% of the toys that you receive for baby showers and birthdays and return them for credit for household goods like toilet paper and food. You’ll find that those are the only things you constantly use in the house, and most kids are end up much better than fine when they use their imaginations.