Let’s face it, baby toys can be pricey, and often the most well-intentioned gift isn’t even as interesting as the box it came in. To make matters worse, toys can be brittle and unweildy, breaking during travel or easily losing a critical piece.
From our experience with hikes, roadtrips, and flights, we’ve compiled a list of inexpensive, sturdy items that have offered hours of entertainment for our 18-month-old.
You can find a funnel at a standard hardware store for just a few bucks. They’re great entertainment for bath time on the road, or for encouraging hand-washing at a pit stop. They can be used to look through or amplify sound, and are a perfect addition to a sandbox. Funnels also tend to be pretty sturdy and hold up, even if crushed in a backpack or suitcase.
Our son carried his paintbrush around for weeks when we traveled through Spain. He loved to treat it as a mini-broom, sweeping the floor of our apartment, or dirt at the park. We were able to let him “paint” with water, dipping the brush and seeing the color of the ground or a sheet of paper change until the water evaporated. Paint brushes pack flat, and often have a hole in the end that you can easily attach to a string, carabiner, or pacifier clip.
We initially ordered one of these clip mirrors so we could see if our son had fallen asleep in the stroller, but we soon realized that he loved it! Looking in the mirror was fun in and of itself, but the bendy arm and clip were also great objects for exploration. It’s particularly convenient for travel because it can attach to the outside of a bag or the frame of a stroller, so it doesn’t take up luggage space.
This is certainly the most expensive item in the list, but for us, it’s a true treat. This Bose speaker seems to be virtually indestructible. Our son loves dancing to the music, but also throws the speaker constantly, and likes to chew on the rubber case. It holds a charge long enough for a full-day outing, and it has a nice strap so we can attach it to a backpack, bike, or stroller.
What “unconventional” toys are you favorites? We’d love to keep adding to this list!