NOTE: I wrote this article back in February 2011 to submit to another site. I never did finish it... until I was preparing for my babymoon!
My daughter certainly isn't short on toys. She even has enough that I rotate them out for her. However, I am all about free play with things that aren't considered toys. You know, real life stuff. There are some dangers there, though. For instance, what kinds of plastics do they use to make an oil funnel?
When we picked one up while shopping, Sasha loved playing with it in the basket. Once we got it home, it just made sense to let her have it for a couple days before using it (especially considering how lazy we are about the truck). Then she was walking with it and tripped. The small end of the funnel hit right in the center of her forehead. Ouch! Poor dear had a small circle on her forehead for a couple of days.
We haven't had any hospital visits from dangerous toys, but then we try to use common sense and we watch her more closely if it is something that isn't already "baby friendly."
One of Sasha's favorite places to play lately? The refrigerator! So what do you do if your kid wants to play with your groceries? Well, I've let her. It started with moving things to different shelves. Then she started just pulling stuff out and putting it on the floor. Still, I let her play in the fridge for a few minutes at a time. She enjoyed it and no harm done. Until I found a package of Laughing Cow Cheese and a container of cucumber sticks in a cabinet. Ew! So we still let her play in the fridge, but we have to keep a closer eye on her.
She seems more familiar with the fridge contents now, including what she can generally have. So now she asks us to open the door and gets out my Garlic & Herb cheese. She closes the door, then hands it to me. I get her a bite of cheese, hand it to her, seal the bag, hand it back, and open the fridge again. She puts the cheese back where she got it and closes the door again. It makes for a fun little game and encourages me to have more snacks readily available for her. (Have suggestions for me?)
This game has also now carried over a bit elsewhere. We kept our kitchen garbage can on top of a step stool... until she got tall enough to put toys into it anyway. Now the trash can is in the pantry. I can give her any garbage and ask her to throw it away. Once I open the Pantry door, she will throw it away and close the door.
I am not real sure what, exactly, she is learning through her free play choices, but I try to remember that most anything she does is teaching her something.
What strange things have become toys in your household?