Just a short reminder that expensive toys can’t compete with the simple things your little one sees you using everyday. Here is the top ten of my daughter’s favourite random things to play with at home:
- Keys – of the house, car keys, I am seriously thinking of creating a bunch of random keys (we have some whose use is a mystery) for her to play with. Sometimes getting the keys back to be able to open the door can require long diplomatic negotiations.
- Toilet brush – oh the joys of the toilet brush ! she wants to clean the toilet bowl, the floor, the wall… occasionally she tries to comb her hair with it, but fortunately (will I dare say it out loud for fear of jinxing it ?!) for the moment she didn’t try to lick it… yet.
- Plates and glasses – her favourite moment of the day is when we open the dishwasher – either with dirty or clean dishes. Naive me has kept our dishes in cupboards close to the table, which are low, so she can easily reach and open them… Stacking plates and bowls and putting out a little plate for the cat (we give him yoghurt on a small plate each morning) is apparently great fun. I actually have to say that she is very careful and although she sometimes breaks a plate, soon, we will be able to recruit her to help with putting the dishes away – a chore that no one really is keen on in our house.
- (Your) Phones and tablets – unless you want porridge, carrots, tomato sauce or cheese spread all over the screen, don’t dare to touch your phone or your tablet when it’s dinner time. Advantage – she is distracted and ends up eating well most of the time; Disadvantage – dirty and sticky screen, possibly erased contacts or pictures and a major guilt trip for being a bad parent. Major risk: a huge meltdown when you try to take the phone away.
- Underwear – I don’t know if this is only in our house, but my daughter loves (our, well, actually mainly my) underwear – she goes looking for it in the clean clothes hamper, on the drying rack or directly in the closet… When I expect guests, I now need to do a quick check of the living room to make sure my panties have not been artfully tucked in the armchair or spread under a chair. On occasion, she uses them as a bonnet or a scarf. My bras are apparently perfect for chasing the cat with or used as goggles.
- Shoes – hers, ours… carrying shoes and trying to put them on is a major thing now… Sometimes I find myself at breakfast, with a little gnome under the table trying to take off my slipper and put on a flip flop from my swimming pool bag. Dad’s dressy shoes are being led around the house by the shoelaces like little dogs on a leash. High heels make great hammers.
- Remote controls, calculators, anything with buttons really, vaguely shaped like a phone (even a bar of soap or a piece of cardboard) – fascinated by them, she carries them next to her ear, repeating “hallo, hallo !” and explaining with great gestures something in her baby gibberish… I am bracing myself in advance for very high phone bills when she will hit adolescence.
- Cardboard boxes – this is a classic, but it works really really well. I try to vary the size of the boxes – and take them away when she starts loosing interest. This toy has so many possible variations – a little house with cut out windows, a box with a pillow dragged across the floor with baby in it can be either a boat or a car… it can become a bed for the dolls or a tunnel. Smaller holes can be used to teach them to fit different shapes (balls, cubes, etc.) through the cut out spaces… Out little one is usually seconded in her exploration by the cat, who also loves random cardboard boxes in the middle of the living room… Double benefit.
- Tupperware – I keep all of them in the lowest kitchen drawer – taking them all out, and banging one against the other amuses her for hours – I have no idea why.
- Shopping bags – I mean the big sturdy ones or the big IKEA ones. If we leave one out, she gets in it or brings it to us. The current favourite is a bag with lots of fish on it from La Belle Iloise. When she has our attention, she crawls into it and wants to be rocked while sitting in the bag (she just about fits in). She can’t get enough… Also recommended to stressed parents as a surprising but very efficient method of putting baby to sleep for her nap… Works like a charm.