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Baby toys on a shoe string

Baby toys on a shoe string

Baby toys from around the home

With the arrival of Baby R I thought it would be a good opportunity to put all my time working in early years to his advantage, I’m always on the lookout for safe things around  the home for him to play with and he doesn’t show much interest in any conventional baby toys after a few play sessions. He’s much more intrigued with heuristic play things.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term heuristic play, it means letting babies (and toddlers as well as children) explore an object, these are usually real, everyday items, stimulating the senses and creating a whole bunch of learning. I’ve been collecting treasure basket items for the last year, ready to put them to the test when the time came. At the moment, his favourite items are the shiny paper and wooden bead necklace, he’s also fascinated watching the discovery bottle.
Babies don’t need endless battery operated toys, intact they bore easy from something that only has a couple of functions. With treasure basket toys, the play opportunities are endless and only limited to their imagination. For the first 12 months, they are driven by sensory experiences so anything with different texture, shapes and sounds will fascinate them.
I’m storing everything in a wicker basket which I found in Store 21 for £5.99, if you’re paying a visit to Ikea any time soon, you could fill one of them with some fab and safe household items for next to nothing. fantastic. You don’t need to go mad for your first one, too much will overwhelm them. Just keep replacing the damaged items regularly and they’ll never get bored.
I’ve pinned some more ideas on my
Baby Play Ideas Pinterest board which I’m adding to all the time,  feel free to pop over and pin or follow. (If you’d like to be added to the board to pin some Baby play ideas them send me your email address and I can add you.)
  • Foil blanket,   The type you find in a 1st aid box.
  • Ribbons,   most things go straight in his mouth and I can wash these. I’ve even hung some from his car seat to exercise his epic swiping and newly acquired grabbing skills to get that pincer grip working.
  • Coasters    Yup, you heard it right, coasters. They feel slippy, make a noise when banged together and make brilliant Frisbees!
  • Ball    Baby R is lucky to have a treasure basket wise God mother who buys him little presents for his stash. This one has colour as well as being really tactile. A juggling ball will have the same effect, just check for damage when teeth arrive.
  • Discovery bottle I make these using small fizzy drink or water bottles, filling them with water, sequins and glitter for visual ones and rice and feathers for noisy.  Make sure the lid is on very tight.
  • Mirror  Baby R loves looking at his self!
  • Wooden bowl the feel and sound of it when the wooden necklace hits it, fascinates him. He also likes the noise made from banging the coasters on top. As well as touching and exploring it his hands and mouth.
  • Flannel for touch and another item that’s washable which is essential as it always ends up in his mouth.
  • Onyx bangle this is hard and cold to touch so quite soothing on his gums. I’ll be getting rid of this one though as soon as his teeth come through.
  • Wooden bead necklace any bead necklace will do. (Always check that it’s not damaged or has any loose beads, also avoid any with thin string visible as it could be damaged with tiny teeth) I dangle this above his head when he’s lying on the floor and he tries swiping for it.
  • Bath Scrunchie a really unusual texture that’s also good for throwing safely and can be washed easily.

Use your imagination then just sit (very close by!) and watch. Don’t interfere too much, the idea is your baby plays at their own will and agenda.


Important information
Always supervise a baby when using a treasure basket, the idea is to let the baby take the lead and explore the items in their own time and way without interference from an adult however, never, ever leave them unattended. sit close by, they’ll want to check in with you and will get maximum developmental benefit knowing you’re there. Check items for damage before every play session. . 

Romanian Mum

Mums' Days
Super Busy Mum
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  • Montessori at Ikea


  1. 13th January 2015 / 7:52 am

    These are great ideas. My daughter always loved playing with balloon whisks. I put a ping pong ball inside one of them and she played with it for hours 🙂


  2. 13th January 2015 / 11:13 am

    You are so right, babies don;t need loads of battery operated toys, treasure baskets are fantastic. Great ideas there. I love that last pic!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

    • 13th January 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Thank you, I’m a Pinterest addict at the moment, always on the lookout for new activities.

  3. 13th January 2015 / 3:01 pm

    Fab post, babies really don’t need expensive toys! We did similar things with Monkey and definitely will again with LM! xx #letkidsbekids

    • 14th January 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Thank you, I’m still on the lookout for new things. we discovered boxes this week!

  4. 13th January 2015 / 7:24 pm

    My son is 4-1/2 now and he is still playing with random things in the house that’s mostly in the list! #letkidsbekids

    • 13th January 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Oooo maybe i should change the title to just toys, that’s fab he’s still interested in heuristic play

  5. 16th January 2015 / 1:01 pm

    Fab idea – I have two teens, a tween and a toddler and it is always an expensive time! Little ones love everyday things too x #TheList

  6. 16th January 2015 / 9:31 pm

    I’d love to see a post of what you put together. I find my inspiration on Pinterest.

  7. 16th January 2015 / 10:03 pm

    I really really keep meaning to set one of these up. I have a basket full of toys – but mostly plastic… need some natural things instead.
    I made a sensory ribbon link today – nice and easy.

    • 16th January 2015 / 10:09 pm

      I’m really interested on what everyone else puts together, maybe we should hold a keeping it natural play linky!

  8. 17th January 2015 / 4:10 pm

    An informative post! My son loves to play with random items since I can remember and till now that he is 4-1/2. I am so glad that I let him as like what you said here it is good. Thanks for sharing this =) #pocolo

    • 17th January 2015 / 4:20 pm

      Thanks, I’m hoping this helps give some ideas to parents of younger babies and toddlers.

  9. 17th January 2015 / 4:48 pm

    I think Treasure baskets are such wonderfully simple but effective things for babies. A great list of items too. Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo

    • 18th January 2015 / 8:58 am

      Thanks Victoria, I’m discovering more and more all the time.

  10. 23rd January 2015 / 7:33 am

    Oh I miss these days when a pan of spoons would have kept him happy – he’s currently trying to break the floor lamp, better go 😉

    Thanks so much for linking up the #TheList, some great ideas 🙂 hxxx

  11. 23rd January 2015 / 9:19 am

    Sorry I’m so late i n popping by from #TheList linky. I love a treasure basket. Lots of great ideas here, sometimes the best ‘toys’ arent toys at all

    • 23rd January 2015 / 9:57 am

      Hi, no worries. I’m catching up on my blog reading tomorrow after a week of playing nurse to my poorly family. Thanks for your comment

  12. Mrs.E
    23rd January 2015 / 9:49 am

    I adore this link, my little one ALWAYS had so much more fun chomping on a wooden spoon and bashing pots and pans than she did with any expensive plastic toy! We found a bowl of uncooked rice would keep out one year old entertained for hours. xxx

    • 23rd January 2015 / 9:52 am

      ahhhh, rice! I forgot about that! Guess what I’m off to do…..

  13. 2nd February 2015 / 8:29 am

    My little one loved her foil blanket and a bunch of plastic spoons will keep her entertained for ages x

    • 2nd February 2015 / 9:11 am

      It’s amazing how something so simple can amuse them isn’t it!

  14. 8th February 2015 / 11:15 am

    Thanks for linking up with this week’s parenting pin it party x x x

  15. 11th April 2015 / 11:36 am

    A great list – some of them I used when my kids were babies.. some I’d not thought of, that will come in handy when I’m (eventually) provided with Grandchildren 🙂

    Found you through #archiveday

    All the best, Kimmie x

    • 11th April 2015 / 11:38 am

      Thanks Kimmie, my mum always says that I liked to play with some of these bits as a baby. It’s just about using things round the home safely really isn’t it.

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