Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Top 10 Best Inexpensive Toys for Toddlers

I was thinking about what advice I would give someone who just had a baby.  I think the thing that stuck out the most in my mine was to NOT spend a lot of money on toys when they are young.  Probably whatever toys they received as baby gifts is sufficient for the baby and toddler.  Realistically, the best toddler toys are free or inexpensive.  Here is a list of my favorite cheap or free toys for toddlers:
  1. A ball.  Children love a ball.  It doesn't have to be an expensive one or one with the latest cartoon character on it.  It  just needs to be round and roll.
  2. Blocks.  The basic ABC blocks are great and can often be found at dollar stores.  Or, if you are handy, cut up your own from scrap lumber.  Make sure to sand down so there are no splinters.  Top with paint in fun colors.  Blocks can be used for more than building towers and tearing them down.  They can be arranged to be fences for zoo animals, rooms for dolls, furniture for dolls and more.
  3. Books.  Check garage sales and used book stores for inexpensive books.  Another great resource is library books.  Most libraries have durable board books, and have lenient policies for teeth marks.  It doesn't matter what the topic, but rhyming ones are fun.  Just make sure you read to them every day.  And leave the books where your child can get them so they can sit and look at pictures in the books, with the exception of library books, which you may want to supervise the use.  
  4. Empty boxes.  Children love empty boxes of all sizes.  An extra large one becomes a house.  A large one becomes a car or train.  Smaller ones can be stacked and knocked down.  For more fun, tape them closed, wrap in brown paper and let your child decorate them with crayons.
  5. Plastic containers (from butter, etc.) and lids.  Children love to figure out which container goes with which lid.  They can stack them, toss a ball in them and more.  Don't forget about using them for play in the tub or outdoor pool.
  6. Pots and pans and a wooden spoon.  Make sure you take some aspirin before this play!  Allow your kids to bang around with your pots and pans.  They love making the noise!
  7. Crayons and paper.  Drawing and coloring enhances their imaginations while increasing their fine motor skills.  For fun, melt various color crayons in a muffin tin.  This makes a nice, wide colorful crayon for kids to easily grip.
  8. Chalk.  Chalk is great for games on the sidewalk.  Draw an obstacle course for kids to walk or ride their bikes on.  Choose a theme and go with it.  I used to make obstacle courses that went through the woods, past the big scary bear, across stepping stones in a river, etc.  The children loved it.  In addition, they have fun drawing pictures on the sidewalk.
  9. A bike, tricycle or other ride-on toys.  Check Craigslist.com for rid-on toys priced from about $7-$20.  They will have oodles of fun riding outdoors.
  10. Bubbles.  Bubbles are loads of fun for children.  You can buy big wands/trays at the dollar store that young children can just wave in the air to make bubbles.
Remember, more importantly than buying your child toys, is your time spent with your child.  Whether at play, taking them to a park or playground, or taking them on a walk, any time you spend with them is better than an expensive toy!


Beth said...

These are great ideas and reminders for my little toddler!!

Real Life Deals said...

Really great list! Isn't that the truth though? Buy an expensinve present and the toddler wants the box?!?! Thanks for the reminder that kids need imagination more than big stuff!!!

Maureen Timerman said...

These are great reminders....always remember the boxes and wrappings at Christmas, being the best toys they received!!

Petula Wright said...

You're right! Those are the tried and true toys that toddlers love. I think it's we adults who feel like we have to get all of that fancy stuff.

I was just trying to figure out what to do/get for my 8-year-old son because he has grown out of a lot of the toys that he has. I don't want to buy anything else, but enhance what he has. He wants to keep the little race cars and action guys. So he's gotten rid of some of the other small toys. I think I'm going to get more games and books for his LeapPad, but other than that ... I'm at a loss.

Mildred E. Benn said...
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