When my son was born, I wanted him to have the best of everything, so at first we spent a good deal of money on all sorts of stuff. Rattles, balls, play pens, and so forth – we dumped a lot of money on these things.
Do you want to guess what his three favorite toys are, now that he’s eleven months old? My old cell phone (with the battery removed), a simple homemade rattle, and a large red plastic cup we got for free at the State Fair.
Before you splurge on expensive (or even inexpensive) toys for your infant or toddler, first give these ideas a try:
Make a homemade rattle. We had tons of leftover baby food jars, so we simply turned one into a rattle. Put four pennies in a baby food jar, make the lid tight, and coat it in a few layers of packing tape (so that if the toy somehow gets broken, the glass will be contained). My son absolutely loves this toy.
Turn over your old unusable electronic devices. My son plays all the time with an old remote control and an old cellular phone. He pushes the buttons and talks on them.
“Laminate” pictures. Print off pictures of family members and laminate them heavily with packing tape (so (s)he can’t chew them up). Make sure the pictures are fairly large so there’s no choking hazard. My son loves these as well – he has a set of pictures of many family members and friends. We also make homemade flash cards, too, with letters and numbers and colors, using the same “lamination” method.
Make a soccer ball out of …. socks! Got some older socks that are starting to wear out? Clean them thoroughly one last time, then make a ball out of them by tying one in a knot, then putting them inside of each other. With the last one, tie a good knot to keep it closed. My son and I roll this “ball” back and forth to each other all the time.
Old plastic cups make great toys. My son has a set of measuring cups he plays with at Grandma’s house; at home, he has a big red plastic cup. He pretends to drink out of it and likes to talk into it because it makes his voice sound funny.
I used to spend money on rattles and other things, but most of my son’s favorite activities and diversions are now freebies.