Top Toddler Toys That Aren’t Toys

With the Holidays approaching I’ve started to think about what to add to Little Man’s Christmas wish list. But the more and more I think about it there really isn’t much that will occupy his busy hands for more than five minutes. Don’t get me wrong. I can do A LOT in five minutes, and would be happy to have it, but if you’re going to spend the time and effort to buy a new toy wouldn’t you hope it would last longer than a few minutes? With the realization that most of the toys in Little Man’s toy box go untouched I started to observe what really keeps his attention and here is what I found.

Little Man's Keys

Keys– I have never met a baby/toddler that did not LOVE their parent’s car keys. Whether they love the cold metal for teething or the sound it makes when they shake them it’s like catnip. Little Man was so enraptured with my keys that his Grandpa made him his very own set complete with an airplane keychain that makes sounds. Verdict: Little Man played with them for awhile but still prefers mine. Thanks for the effort Papa!

Spatula, Wisk or any other kitchen utensil– Little Man loves to watch us cook. I blame my husband since from the time he was able to be strapped into a carrier John has been showing him how to make pancakes, waffles, biscuits or whatever else strikes his fancy on a Saturday morning. Now I can’t even make a cup of coffee in the morning without picking him up to see exactly how I place the pod into the Tassimo and press the button (which he now insists on doing). The only way I am able to get dinner together is if he has his own kitchen utensil (usually a metal wisk or spatula) and a bowl, colander or other object he can use to stir his imaginary batter.Daddy and Little Man at 5 months making breakfast

Daddy and Little Man at 5 months making breakfast

Measuring Cups – You know those plastic stacking cups they sell for babies? Pretty much the same thing and a heck of a lot cheaper, plus they have handles. Little Man is now in the stage where he likes to put things together and take them apart. We have a metal and plastic set of stackable measuring cups and he enjoys both of them.

Makeup Brushes – Getting ready in the morning, it’s every mother’s battle to keep the kid happy long enough to allow you to slip on a pair of jeans and a clean shirt. If you’re doing really well, or there is an extremely intriguing episode of Sesame Street on, you might even get the chance to brush your teeth and slap on some makeup. Try as I might the minute Little Man hears me open my makeup drawer he bolts into my room. For some reason he is fascinated by my makeup drawer. In an effort to get a little makeup on so as not to scare the grocery store clerk I have found giving him makeup brushes I don’t use keeps him occupied just long enough to make myself look presentable. He takes the different size brushes and goes around the house pretending to paint things. Maybe he likes the texture or maybe it just makes him feel artsy, I don’t care. As long as it works!

Golf Balls – Now I know I may get flack for this (probably not as much as the next one) but he LOVES them! I have heard of some kids choking on golf balls but Little Man doesn’t put them in his mouth and he’s always supervised with them anyways. One of his early words was ball and he learned it from playing with a golf ball. How can I take that away? Golf balls are the perfect size for their little hands and the heaviness of them make them great for learning how to throw. I once heard from a teacher certified in child development that picking up heavy objects actually stimulates brain development. With all the plastic toys he’s surrounded by I feel a tad bit of heft ain’t such a bad thing.

Bubble Wrap – Another danger item I know, but that big tube bubble wrap that come in Amazon shipments provides endless fun on a cold afternoon. Little Man tries to step on them, bite them and lay on them. It’s a different feeling and the fact that it’s lighter than…well…air makes it all the more interesting. Of course he is always monitored with this one as well. ; )

Little Man's Spaceship

Laundry Basket – From throwing his toys in it, crawling inside and using it as a jungle gym I thought I had seen all the possibilities the laundry basket had to offer. Then my husband came home and here entered the SPACESHIP. John raced him around the house while he stood in the basket gripping on for dear life. The huge smile and gleeful laughter showed us we had found a new favorite. But it was the mimicking of daddy’s sound effects of the engines blasting that really made me laugh. He’s a boy after all.



Dog Bowl – I’m not quite sure where the infatuation with the dog bowl came from but it’s been over five months and it has not faltered. The minute Little Man steps outside he beelines for the water bowl. His favorite past time is stomping in it fully clothed with shoes on. And if that didn’t get all the water out he will place his hands inside and swish them around vigorously or just pick up the bowl and dump it down the front of himself.



All in all I have learned that less is more when it comes to toys. Kids really don’t need much and there are so many household items that can be turned into learning opportunities (aka mom needs five minutes to switch the laundry, load the dishwasher and go pee). So tell me what your kids favorite ‘un’toys are. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas!


  1. This is hilarious!!!! And useful. Now I know what to get him for Christmas: a coffeemaker! Besides, it’s never too early to get’em started on caffiene. Remember, he’s 25% Norwegian!

  2. Don’t forget the cardboard box!

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