Here you are…new parents wandering through the aisles of Babies R Us with scanner in hand, hitting up every little colorful piece of plastic or rubber for your new baby to play with once she begins crawling around the house with “velcro hands” where she latches onto every little fleck, speck or granule. Sure, it’s important to have something occupy the baby…safe objects, things she can’t swallow and choke on, things not covered in layers of tasty lead-based paint. I’m here to tell you, new parents, don’t be surprised if every single toy you registered for ends up in a trunk in the attic or a “donate” box in the back of your car before your baby gets out her first bah bah or mah mah.
There’s a island the size of Connecticut somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean comprised entirely of unwanted and discarded baby toys and, meanwhile, these companies make tonnage manufacturing these little trinkets and squeakers.
Ellison’s favorite toys, as she turns over her ninth month, are her daddy’s car keys, an eight-ounce bottle with under an ounce of unconsumed formula in it, a coaster, a water bottle with a couple of pebbles in it and her daddy’s lanyard and work ID. Under constant supervision, the keys and the lanyard are permissible substitutions for real baby toys. The others are weird, but reasonably cheap toys that serve dual-purposes. All of which cost almost nothing. Every favorite toy in Ellison’s toy basket either came from within the house or from the second hand baby store.
The Babies R Us gift registry, I’m here to tell you, is a great tool for building an assortment of practical baby products from bottles to nipples, bibs to burping clothes (a hand towel will suffice), and cribs to jumpers. But registering for toys when, in the end, all it takes is an empty roll of packing tape and an old remote control (without batteries) to keep that kid entertained for days, hell, months at a time, is a futile task. Do not register for toys.
Plush will suffice early. As she gets older, introduce a few toys, possibly an egg yolk strainer, a plastic spatula or a turkey baster. If you absolutely have to buy something with a smiley face on it, go to Once Upon a Child or some other used baby store and buy some cheap dollar-fiddy plastic toy. You are not a bad parent because the baby’s toys didn’t come from Target or Babies R Us.