1. Wax paper is a brilliant toy for babies. They get to explore the crinkle and feel while crawling around.
2. Kitchen Utensils are the world's greatest toy. It doesn't matter what age - they are the best. So, I always like to have a bottom cupboard or drawer filled with the "safe" kitchen things: spoons, whisks, basting brushes, bowls, measuring cups, and of course an unplugged mixer.
3. Yarn on a sheet of sand paper is surprisingly sticky! Not as much fun as I dreamed - but a fun diversion occasionally. Likewise, yarn on carpet is fun - but little ones get tangled quite easily - so I only tried it on occasion.
4. Painters Tape is hands down the best invention. Babies can play with it more safely than other tape - because its not too sticky. Which is also the quality that makes it perfect for making designs on the ground. You should see the airports, roadways, and even sports arenas that come to life with just a little blue painters tape!
5. Empty glass baby food jars can be filled with all sorts of good baby shakables: rice, marbles, nails, a bouncy ball, just use your imagination. Just be sure to super glue or hot glue the lid shut.
6. As the get older - a purse or bag filled with random items is genius: the free credit cards that are fake you get in the mail, an old cheapy Casio watch, a small flashlight, key ring (with keys is the best). Baby's like to pull stuff out of things. And older children like to tote around a bag as well.
7. Fill a pot with potatoes and let a baby pull them out (do a sample run for them first). The "pull out" phase comes before the "put in" phase. So, when a baby can sit this starts to become a fun game.
What "free" ideas do you have?
Painting: Child with a Dove by Pablo Picasso