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Baby toys on a very tight budget - ideas please

(33 Posts)
haloflo Thu 15-Sep-11 19:20:23

My DD is nearly 6 mo and I am feeling the pinch on maternity pay. What might she like to do at home which is free? If I do buy her some (cheap) toys what will last and last?

MarionCole Thu 15-Sep-11 19:25:21

They can be entertained very cheaply at this age. Give her some plastic cups and a washing up bowl of water. Or dried pasta to mess around with, some boxes with lids, egg boxes are particularly fascinating. A ball and a toilet roll tube.

Flisspaps Thu 15-Sep-11 19:28:16

Wooden spoons. Plastic bottles with lentils/rice/pasta/dried beans in and taped shut. Tissue paper. Pans. A couple of glittery balls (Tesco do some for £1.50 each). Boxes.

seeker Thu 15-Sep-11 19:29:37

They don't need toys. Find q basket or a sturdy box. Then go round your house looking at things with a baby's eyes. Wooden spoons, measuring spoons, a clean empty plastic bottle, a bunch of old keys, a silk scarf, a bath plug on a chain, a hair brush, a pine cone, a smooth piece of wood, an egg whisk, a recorder,....... Use your imagination and fill the basket with anything that' not breakable and too big to swallow.

Then put the basket on the floor, put your baby in front of it and let her explore. Change the things every now an then- you won't be able to help colleting things!

choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 19:30:13

casting my mind back 10 years....
Wooden spoon and a biscuit tin.
Rustly plastic bag sewn inside an old pillow case, with a few stitches here and there to stop the bag going all into one corner.
Wooden curtain rings and the bobbly bit off the end of the curtain rail.

CaptainMartinCrieff Thu 15-Sep-11 19:30:36

I agree with the previous poster... At this age they will literally play with anything. If you want some proper toys on a budget though try sales at your surestart centre of nct thing. I picked up a ball for 20p, a stacker toy for 50p and some stacking cars for £1. Only buy things that you're relatively confident of their quality and that can be washed or sterilised.

MamaChocoholic Thu 15-Sep-11 19:33:51

also car boot sales. lots of decent baby toys round here for 20p-50p. the toys which have been most used, and are still used from 6-11months here have been stacking cups, balls of different texture, wooden stick (mainly for chewing, sometimes banging), any rattle, a mesh basket with the end cut off that has been used as a tunnel. but we also have a cupboard in the kitchen filled with only plastic stuff. opening/shutting that, taking everything out has been great fun.

CaptainMartinCrieff Thu 15-Sep-11 19:34:01

Actually my DS had a thing for out juicer thing (wooden hand thing to get the juice out if lemons), our colander, and bizarrely he loved boxes, especially a little shoe box his first pair of shoes came in, he spent ages putting things in it, taking things out of it and carefully placing the lid on it.

haloflo Thu 15-Sep-11 19:37:00

Oooh ok. I had noticed she was always more interested in grabbing the wipes/nappy cream/nappys than the lovely friendly elephant toy on her change mat but it never really occurred to me that I could let her play with normal stuff around the house

I am going to start having a look now.

PotteringAlong Thu 15-Sep-11 19:37:08

play dough

A bit young at the moment but always a winner for later on!

mousesma Thu 15-Sep-11 19:38:29

Why don't you contact your local children's centre and see if they have a toy library you can borrow from?

At 6 months DD still wasn't that interested in most toys but she liked her stacking cups and playing with my costume jewellery e.g. plastic bangles etc.

haloflo Thu 15-Sep-11 19:58:46

Wow they do have a toy library! This is amazing! I will ring the children's centre tomorrow. Thank you all so much. I am feeling so much better about tomorrows entertainment. smile

petaluma Thu 15-Sep-11 20:15:42

Toy libraries are the business!

I don't know if they have any in your area but the charity Farah do a few branches dedicated to children's stuff - some of the best toys, not to mention some pretty pucker second hand clothes (John Lewis, JoJoMamanBebe and Petit Bateau clothes really do last!) I've got come from there. Seriously cheap - I've never paid much more than £2 for a toy, and more like 50p for most others.

The branches I know of are in Earlsfield, SW London and Fulham Road.


Haberdashery Thu 15-Sep-11 20:19:06

I think the only things worth spending actual money on at this age are baby links (about £4 from ELC, I think, and actually useful for you as well as nice for the baby) and some stacking cups (I got ours from Sainsburys for about £5). If your budget runs to it, some squeezy plastic animals for the bath might be nice in a few months (would def buy these new as they tend to go a bit mouldy inside after a while no matter how carefully you clean them). I bought some for about a fiver and my DD is still playing with them at five so that is more than four years of continual use! She also still uses the baby links as bracelets and the stacking cups in the bath.

At about a year old, I used to sit my daughter in a large cardboard box with a load of torn up newspaper and let her throw it around and bury herself to her heart's content. She absolutely loved it. Other ideas for that age that are really nice and also cheap would be things like a bowl of water with soap/washing up liquid and a whisk (outside or on kitchen/bathroom floor), clear plastic bottle half filled with water/food colouring/glitter and a drop of something that will bubble, plastic bottles containing a couple of tablespoons of rice/beans/lentils/salt (they all make different noises), 'painting' on outside floors or walls with water and a big brush or chalk drawings outside, buy really cheap big bag of lentils or rice from eg Indian shop and put in a big washing up bowl and let her bury things and dig in it.

Later on, next year, when she's starting to walk, it's definitely worth getting a cheap toy pushchair or pram or maybe a trolley with bricks as that's another thing that will be played with for absolutely years. I think ELC do really cheap toy buggies. Toy plastic food will be a lot of fun later on, too, and a cheap plastic tea set.

A lot of these are for older children, but it might give you some ideas for later on. I think the improvised toys have always been my daughter's favourites.

CharlotteBronteSaurus Thu 15-Sep-11 20:23:28

let her bash all your saucepans with a wooden spoon.

half-fill an empty water bottle with lentils/macaroni and you have a rattle.

petaluma Thu 15-Sep-11 20:26:59

Fara not Farah blush

Iggly Thu 15-Sep-11 20:32:36

Be careful with dried pasta - she'll probably try to eat it!

Charity shops are great - could get some books. DS didn't have much attention for toys - don't know why I bothered!

GoingForABlog Thu 15-Sep-11 20:39:55

Keep your eye out on FreeCycle, I got a big bag of baby toys from there and I put them all through the dishwasher and they survived and have been used by both of mine now, all for £0!

weneedabiggerboat Thu 15-Sep-11 20:40:30

I have a 7 month old, her favourite toy is wooden spoons shock or my handbag. I got great stacking cup in Ikea for £1.50, I also got some buggy books in what used to be Bargain Books, I can't remember what its call now for 99p. She likes to play with teethers, Poundland does good ones. Have a nosy in the likes of B&M - there was a thread I think in Chat a few weeks ago about what toys your child had the most use of, several of the toys mentioned are £4.99 in B&M.

fluffywhitekittens Thu 15-Sep-11 20:41:55

If you have an ikea near you they have some good cheap toys, there is a set of plastic stacking cups for £1.50 that is a real favourite.

haloflo Thu 15-Sep-11 20:45:31

Her nanna has got her some lovely books which she loves to look at/grab/eat. Well they are lovely now but I guess in time they may not be so nice...

I will keep my eye out in charity shops too thank you. I'm in NW England in my local city centre the charity shops are often pretty rubbish but you never know and I wonder round town often enough.

I've never heard of Fara petuluma I will look into it though (might just be a London thing though?)

Thank you haberdashery I will print this thread I think to save the ideas for older babies/toddlers. (Not that my baby will ever grow up! I cannot imagine her walking.)

I have some links, DD already likes to wave those around and gum them. I wanted to get some stacking cups today but ELC and Boots had sold out! I'll try the supermarket next time I'm there.

wearymum200 Thu 15-Sep-11 20:46:38

Emptying a shoebox full of pine cones, cotton reels etc can keep them endlessly amused. I would invest in a set of stacking cups, they last and are very cheap and can be used in bath/ paddling pool etc as well as tower building.
Cheap board books which can be chewed
Empty bottles with dried lentils etc inside make a great noise
But you are probably her best toy of all!

haloflo Thu 15-Sep-11 20:48:32

Ikea is an hours drive, I wish they delivered their cheap stuff. Might see if my sister is going to her local one soon though. It seems very popular on these boards but its a bit of a trek for me (i've not driven DD more than 20 minutes out of town)

There is a B&M and Poundland though. I think I might try the toy library and household stuff first and see what is popular.

Tyr Thu 15-Sep-11 20:53:18

At that age, anything becomes a toy. Freegle is useful and charity shops are great. Anything brightly coloured that makes a noise will go down a treat.

weneedabiggerboat Thu 15-Sep-11 20:56:17

Also meant to say Tescos/Asda do their own plastic teasets, I have 2 older girls (6 & 3), and have therefore got about 100 teasets but the baby loves playing with the teacups, she also thinks its really funny if you put something in the teacup like a figure or a random jigsaw piece and rattle it around.

If you are looking to spend a little bit more money, my elder two love the Happyland stuff from ELC, dd3 also can now hold and swap the figures in her hand. You can get a box of figures for about £6, the sets which will be great when she's a little older are from about £15 but they do put them on sale quite often (usually around Halloweenish, and then about the two weeks before Christmas)

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