Before I had my daughter, I assumed I would need to by all the expensive toys advertised on television and highlighted on parenting sites and displayed in stores. I was convinced I had to register all the things and buy all the things and make sure my baby (and eventually, toddler) had all she needed to be entertained. Turns out, that's so, so unnecessary. Honestly, it's the little things your toddler will be fascinated by and the majority of those "little things" are every-day
I've found over the last few years and as my daughter has gradually entered the toddler stage that, when she has to choose between an expensive toy that talks to her and lights up versus an empty paper towel roll, she'll choose the empty paper towel roll every time. This was not only mind-boggling, but mildly frustrating as I had already spent money on the toy with the lights and the talking, only to have it be completely ignored. Then again, it also meant I had no reason to buy those toys in the future and that? Well, that's a revelation I can get behind.
In the end, at least for me and my family, there's no need to go buy all those expensive, fancy toys. If your toddler is anything like mine, he or she will end up playing with the box the toy came in than the actual toy itself. So, if you're looking for ways to entertain your kid but you don't want to break the bank, try introducing your kid to the following:
It rolls and rolls and never ever stops. It's hours of endless fun that you can buy in large quantities for much cheaper than an expensive toy. My daughter will laugh uncontrollably and for a solid twenty minutes after she's finished unrolling a roll. Then she'll go back and tear it all to pieces.
Is the clean up kind of the worst? Sure. Do you regret letting your kid play with toilet paper when you're sitting on the pot and you're all out? Definitely. Still, sometimes peace and quiet is peace and quiet, and you'll take it anyway you can get it.
The Remote Control
Oh yes, the remote. When it's not incredibly annoying that your child continuously presses button and turns the television on and off and changes the channel frequently, it's kind of awesome to be able to just hand them a remote (especially if it's an old one that you've removed the batteries from) and watch them go to town.
My kid is obsessed with my hairbrush, and wants to play with it every single time I use it to, you know, actually brush my hair. Hey, if it keeps her happy, I'm happy (plus it's adorable to watch your kid attempt to brush their own hair).
When all else fails — or even when ti doesn't fail, and you just feel like having your kid sit quietly for a few minutes — hand over your phone. Not only are they fascinated by this tiny little piece of technology, they can also entertain themselves with some pretty educational games and apps.
Steve Jobs, you're the real MVP.
I'll say it, here and now: blankets provide the funniest, most entertaining moments for toddlers they could even hope to experience. Create would-be gusts of wind? Check. Essential peek-a-boo game piece? Check. Perfect for snuggles and cuddles? Check. Check. Check.
Bounce houses and trampolines can get pretty expensive. It's much cheaper to just turn a bed or a discarded mattress into a bounce house, and monitor your kid so they don't, you know, hurt themselves.
Curtains are a great way to practice a younger version of hide-and-seek and make for a lot of fun. They're already hanging so there's no assembly required and all you really have to do (safety-wise) is make sure your child doesn't get wrapped up in them or accidentally pulls them down.
You can even hide behind them and see if your child can find you. Trust me, it's endless hours of those cute little giggles.
Doors open and close and squeak and they can move quickly or slowly and even create (very exciting) gusts of wind. Enough said.
Ordering something for yourself on Amazon because, yes mom, you deserve it? Well, you enjoy that "just because" present and save the box for your kid. Thank me later.
A Sheet Of Paper
Just like this baby, toddlers enjoy anything with paper: coloring it, tearing it, making it fly in the sky or throwing it up in the air like it's snowing and giving you a reason to spend the next thirty minutes picking up tiny pieces of paper from your living room floor.