You know what they say:

buy a kid an expensive toy and they’ll be happier playing with the box.

the best toys in life are free


And it’s true. There are some beautiful toys out there that you can buy (and that I do buy) but I don’t know about yours but my kidlet has the attention span of a fruit fly. He enjoys his toys but to keep him entertained all the time I’d need to buy all the toys in China! Instead, if I leave him alone (alone, not unsupervised) I find he gravitates towards all the things he isn’t given to play with ie everything but his toys.

Over the last few months I’ve noticed there are a few household items which he is absolutely fascinated with, and the great thing is they’re free!

[Ok, they’re not free but you’ve probably got them lying around your house anyway so they’re free in the sense that you don’t need to go out and buy them just for your child.]

Here, for your pennypinching pleasure, is my list of free toys your kidlet will love:

A box

cardboard box - the best toys in life are free

Any size, any shape. Whenever you order something online or buy an appliance which comes in a box, don’t recycle it immediately. Hand it over to your little who will spend days opening and closing it, putting things in it and taking things out of it, sitting in it, standing on it. You’ll be amazed what they can do with a simple box.

A tupperware with lid

tupperware - the best toys in life are free

Great for opening and closing. We have a drawer which we fill with only plastics which J can reach and he is more than happy to unpack that drawer. Endlessly. It drives me mad (and the Beard even madder) but who are we to get in the way of his fun?



A pot and a wooden spoon

pot and spoon - the best toys in life are free

Not ideal for 5 am wake ups but great for middle of the day playtime. It took a while for J to feel confident enough to take the spoon out of his mouth and bang the pot loud enough to hear it, but now that he can! Future drummer, I tell you.



A remote

remote - the best toys in life are free

Buttons! You can’t fail with buttons. But here’s a top tip: take out the batteries. Or else when you finally get some time to yourself (read: to watch series) you will find that you can’t turn the decoder on and you have no idea why.



A set of keys

keys - the best toys in life are free

An old or broken set of car or house keys, preferably with a remote attached. Again, rather have a set of keys handy that you don’t actually need. If you don’t, if your car alarm stops working or someone manages to push the emergency button, don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Magazines or newspapers

baby playing with newspapers

It doesn’t have to be The Financial Times or The Guardian. J is just as interested in turning the pages of my Good Housekeeping or the Pick ‘n Pay advert section of the paper. Just make sure you read it first, because you won’t get it back in one piece.


An activity board

Door handles, light switches, taps – if you’re lucky enough to have a handy dad like I do, get them to put together an activity board like this one. We’re talking hours of entertainment here. Hours.


A dog 

Daschund puppy sleeping

Because a) how can you resist this face? b) you never need to clean the floor after dinner and c) these two play together so well it makes my heart happy.




These are our current favourites but there are guaranteed to be loads more. Face cloths, sunglasses, toothbrushes all spring to mind. The moral of the story: don’t rush out to buy new toys every week. Have a look around and see what you’ve already got lying around that your little would be interested in.

Featured image: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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