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10 FREE Toys for Babies and Toddlers

There are so many toys aimed at babies and toddlers these days. As a parent who wants to give your child the very best, it can be easy to get caught up in all of the marketing hype. Retailers and toy manufacturers would have you believe the more expensive the toy, the more benefit your child will receive from it. However, your baby doesn’t need expensive gadgets that light up and play music to help them grow and learn.

As babies reach new developmental milestones, their perception of the world around them continually changes. Items that we think are mundane and boring can be a thing of wonder to a curious young mind. It is amazing how they can make a game from almost anything.

Here are 10 things that your child under three will love to play with that won’t cost you a cent:

Clothes pegs

This is an old favourite of my mother-in-law’s. As toddlers, my kids loved it when she let them loose with her peg basket, along with another container to transfer them to or clip them onto. Great for developing those fine motor skills, rudimentary counting and colour sorting.

Plastics drawer

This is a real sanity saver for me when I’m preparing meals. I let my daughter have access to the drawer which contains the plastic kids’ crockery and containers. She loves emptying it, laying things out, stacking and re-stacking. It’s easy to pack up and I know she can’t break anything.

Pot and a wooden spoon

Who doesn’t love to make a little music? This is a great activity for all ages. Babies love to bang on things!

Water play

Water isn’t just for drinking and getting clean. Splashing in the sink, a bucket in the back yard or even playtime in the bathtub is lots of fun for young children. A plastic jug, empty bottles and a colander make great playthings. Just remember to always supervise your child around any water, no matter how shallow.

Cardboard boxes

Free toys for kids

There is so much truth in the old adage that children prefer to play with the box rather than the new toy that came in it. Empty tissue boxes, cardboard rolls or even egg cartons all make great toys for small children to stack, build with and play pretend.


Tummy time for younger babies is much more fun when they are looking at that cute little person in the mirror. Toddlers can play Simon Says or just make funny faces. Kids love looking at their own reflection and it helps them understand their own body in relation to things around them.

DIY cubby

The ultimate rainy day activity is building a cubby. Transform your living room into a cosy hideaway simply using a blanket and some pillows. Your little one will love exploring their new play space.

Eye-spy bottle

This is a good one for keeping bub occupied on the go. Fill an empty, dry plastic bottle with rice (coloured with food colouring if you fancy). Pop in a few items for them to “spy”. For example, a marble, a large button, a plastic dinosaur. Glue the lid on securely so it cannot be opened. When bub moves the rice around in the bottle different items will be revealed.


Free toys for kids

It’s a telephone, a boomerang, for drawing lines in the dirt. It’s a pointer, a ruler, a trumpet. It is only limited by your imagination!


A beloved carer really is the best plaything for any child. Sing to them, tell them a story and take them outside to lay on the grass. It won’t cost you a thing and you’ll benefit too!

Above all, helping your child to explore their environment while making them safe and loved is the best gift you can give them.

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Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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