Finding the perfect baby toys can feel overwhelming, can’t it?
One of the things I’ve learned as a mom and pediatric Occupational Therapist is that babies often enjoy — and prefer! — playing with everyday, ordinary stuff that’s laying around the house.
That laundry basket?
That baby wipes container?
That kitchen pot?
That cardboard box?
Here are a dozen different play activities you can do with your baby using household items!
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (see full disclosure).
12 BABY PLAY IDEAS USING HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
1) Therapy ball – Remember that exercise ball you bounced and exercised on when you were pregnant? Or that you’ve been sitting on while you bounce your squishy baby back to sleep in the middle of the night?
Use it as a playtime tool! Use that therapy ball to make tummy time waaaaaayyyy more fun for younger babies, and use it as a playtime opportunity for strengthening and fun interaction with your older baby, too!
2) Mirror – There is almost nothing more interesting to a baby than his or her own reflection. Mirror-motivated tummy time is always a huge hit with younger babies! And as baby gets older and is able to push up, reach, and scoot, you may find that playtime in front of the mirror is a good way to motivate baby to crawl!
3) Tissue paper – Save all that tissue paper from your baby shower gifts! Hang the tissue paper off the side of your couch so your tiny baby can kick, kick, kick!
4) Mixing bowls of different sizes – Your baby can play with mixing bowls on their own and learn how they nest and stack. Or add a few rattle balls or other toys so baby can practice skills such as grasping, releasing, transferring, banging, mouthing and, of course, wearing as a hat!
5) Muffin tin – Place a few baby-safe balls in a muffin tin and leave the rest to your curious baby! This is such a great go-to activity for reaching, sitting, and crawling babies. It’s so simple to set up and it prompts SO MUCH exploration and motivation. Both are HUGE factors when it comes to infant motor development!
6) Laundry basket – Use a laundry basket as an in-and-out container for your budding ball player! This is perfect for babies who are experimenting with reaching while in sitting, transitioning from sitting to hands-and-knees, and crawling!
7) Empty can – Use an empty formula can or coffee can as a “put-in” container. This a great activity for babies who can sit up without support and who are starting to learn that their eyes and hands can work together as a team. Use it with no lid and allow your little one to become familiar with simply putting in and taking out. Cut a circle in the lid so baby can learn to aim for a smaller target while placing balls in the hole. Cut a square in the lid so baby can learn to problem-solve as she tries to push and turn blocks to make them fit and fall into the can.
8) Baby wipes container – Take an empty baby wipes container and put a scarf in it. Make sure the end of the scarf is sticking out of the wipes chamber and allow baby feel like he’s getting into mischief by pulling it all the way out! Use a t-shirt, pair of leggings, or clean dish towel if you don’t have a scarf. Baby will get a chance to practice strengthening his grasp and coordination use of his two hands along the way!
9) Couch cushions, a large kitchen pot, or an upside down storage container – As baby moves closer to becoming a crawler, she’ll enjoy items that provide her a raised surface. This will allow her to experiment with placing her hands on a slightly raised surface as she learns to bear a little more weight on her knees. Couch cushions, kitchen pots. and upside down storage containers are all great surfaces for your pre-crawler!
10) Cardboard box – It’s true what they say — in a room full of interesting toys, the cardboard box wins! Two of my favorite ways to use a cardboard box with babies is either as a tunnel or as an “office” for playtime! After all, play is a child’s work!
11) Salad tongs – Salad tongs are a great tool for sensory and fine motor play with older babies! One of my favorite ways to introduce tongs to older babies and young toddlers is with cooked noodles. And it’s even more fun when they are rainbow colored!
12) Empty Cascade container – Babies who enjoy hiding things inside containers will enjoy playing with Mr. Crocodile. An empty bucket of dishwashing pods (such as Cascade pods) actually bears an eerie resemblance to a crocodile! Clean it out, take off the sticker (or wrap it in duct tape), and show your baby how to feed Mr. Crocodile! You can use items such as socks, balls, blocks, food…whatever keeps baby’s interest! (Be aware that anything you glue to the outside of the container could potentially come off and become a choking hazard, so don’t put things like googly eyes on if there’s a chance baby could pull them off and try to mouth them.)
There are soooooo many more ways to use household items for baby play. I’ve highlighted just a dozen.
So before you run off to Target or add toys upon toys to your Amazon wish list, take a look around your house. I bet you have way more play materials than you think!
FREE BABY PLAY IDEAS!
I’ve put together a FREE one-page handout filled with baby play ideas from today’s blog post! Print it out, stick it on your fridge, and jumpstart your brain on those days where you just need an extra dose of inspiration! Just pop your info into the form below and you’ll be on your way!
What are your favorite household items to use for baby play?
MORE INFANT-RELATED RESOURCES FOR YOU:
Join the newsletter!
Want more handy tips & tricks to help the kids in your life?
Subscribe to Mama OT so you can receive updates about new posts, helpful tidbits & a look at what's going on behind the scenes.