Thursday, September 21, 2006

Great Toys You Already Have

By Heather Pohlabel

Babies are expensive. That is an understatement! Babies are also very simple. Although we love to spoil them and shower them with toys and gifts, they don't really demand much and really enjoy normal, plain things that we have at home!

Measuring cups. Measuring cups and spoons or various sizes of plastic cups will keep baby entertained for quite awhile. They are also very educational in their own way. Babies use the cups to practice stacking. Filling and dumping is another favorite activity for baby, so if you can find something large that will not fit in their mouths but will fit in the cup, give it to them and watch them put it in the cup and pour it out. If your baby is old enough and enjoys a snack, you can put the snack in the cups and let them measure, play, cook, and eat at the same time! Cups are GREAT fun in the bath; just watch that baby doesn't drink too much bath water! When you are in the kitchen, give baby a bowl and the measuring cups and spoons so she can begin to see the relationship between the two and can have fun while she watches mom cook!

Pots and pans. Despite the loud clanging that theses already have toys provide, babies also enjoy stacking and cooking. Babies can put smaller pans in larger pans. Some babies even like to crawl in and sit in a big pot- you can take a wonderful picture of this cute moment. The clanging may get loud, but baby is exploring her world and noises, and she will probably find that noise pleasing, so try to bear with it and let her make beautiful noises. Add a spoon to the mix, and baby can practice cooking and playing the drums! She can also learn to use a spoon this way, as she will inevitably put that spoon in her mouth, so be sure to tell her" good job!" She will be feeding herself in no time!

Boxes. Any size, any shape, babies love boxes! They love to get in them and hide. They love to throw them. They love to open and close them, and if you put things in them, it is a treasure chest and they will LOVE to take everything out, explore it, toss it to the side, get back in the box, explore the next thing, toss that to the side, and continue until the box is empty. They will then explore the box - the textures, the size, the edges. Keep larger moving boxes for when baby can play hide and seek on her own or to let her play house. Young children even love to do this, often making furniture out of various sized boxes.

Paper. If you can keep it out of baby's mouth, paper is especially fun to tear! Baby can work on her fine motor skills and rid herself of some pent up anger by ripping some paper to shreds. Wrapping boxes up like presents is fun for baby too. There doesn't even have to be a present inside! Baby will enjoy uncovering that wonderful box, ripping the paper, and then playing with the box!

Empty bottles. Your empty soda or shampoo bottles are very fun toys for babies. While full bottles are heavier and could possibly hurt your baby if she dropped it on her, empty bottles do not hurt at all. They also roll! Babies can chase bottles all over the floor. They can also pick them up and shake them. Placing items that make sounds inside of the bottle will make a homemade rattle. You can use bells, sand, anything that makes noise! Just be sure to glue the lid shut so that baby cannot get it loose and eat what is inside!

Remote controls. If you have old remote controls that you no longer use, take out the batteries and tape the battery compartment shut with duct tape. Babies will touch on the numbers and throw it and bang it around. Remote controls seem to be a favorite toy since they are usually a no no. If you can let your baby have her own remote control, she may leave yours alone.

It really doesn't take much to entertain babies. While babies cost a lot of money to rise, you can get away on the cheap with toys to entertain them. They often prefer things that you already have at home to expensive toys.

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