You have endless toys and baby gadgets for your little bundle of joy to play with…so why are both of you already sick of your playroom? When you play with the same toys day-in and day-out, they may be getting stale. Even without buying new toys, there are ways to refresh and update your play space for a more exciting, meaningful and engaging play experience.
Move Things Around: It seems so simple but it really works. Move a toy from one room to another and watch your baby delight in something that was once highly ignored. This works particularly well when you move something out of a crowded playroom into a room where there are few toys. She’ll be able to focus on all that one toy has to offer instead of being distracted. Next time you need to take a shower, try this trick by bringing an old toy into your bathroom. We bet you’re baby will be occupied for at least enough time for you to get squeaky clean.
Rotate Toys: Keep toys fresh by rotating them in and out of your place space. Find somewhere safe to hide toys that aren’t currently in use. Every two weeks to a month, rotate toys so your baby will have an entirely “new” set of things to do. She’ll probably feel like they are brand new toys. And you’ll notice some changes in the way she plays with the toys as your baby matures. You can also do this with friends by borrowing and trading toys for a short period of time to liven things up in your playroom.
Re-Introduce “Baby” Toys: As your baby grows older into a toddler, you’ll probably graduate some toys. If you have space, save some of them to re-introduce later. Your baby’s imagination will eventually blossom and baby toys are terrific for playing make believe. Your little one will re-discover new ways to play with baby toys. Plus, some of the lessons of the toy – such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors – that were once lost on your baby will be more digestible for your toddler.
Add Cardboard: Speaking of imagination, cardboard boxes are a breeding ground for imaginary play. Show your little one how to pretend your box is a rocket ship, row boat or racecar. At first she may just want to climb in-and-out or otherwise manipulate the box. But eventually she’ll catch on as her imagination grows. Also, use the box to place fun items you want your baby to focus on that day, such as puzzles, blocks or a special book you want to read.
Use Non-Toys: Have you ever noticed that your little one is much more fascinated by simple household objects than her own toys? As long as they aren’t dangerous, if that’s what floats her boat, let her play with them in her own place space from time-to-time. Try to figure out what it is that your baby likes about the object: Is it shiny? Does it make noise? Can she see her reflection in it? If you know what she likes about the item, you may be able to find other similar things she would enjoy.
Decorate: Perhaps it’s not the toys themselves that are getting old, but the space feels rather dull. Of course you can buy lots of decorative wall hangings for your playroom, or you can make them yourself. One of the easiest ways to decorate a playroom is with your child’s own artwork. Hang cork boards and tack up various art projects your kiddo completes. It will be fun for her to watch the evolution of her artwork and perhaps even recall the seasons, holidays or events where she did them. You can also supplement with some easy art projects of your own, such as an alphabet canvas, framed photos or high shelves featuring some of your baby’s toys and stuffed animals.
Create Stations: One great way to refresh your play space is to create stations and encourage your children to rotate every once in awhile. You can have an area with musical instruments, an art table, a puzzle corner or a trucks and train station. This will stimulate creative juices and also help your child learn how to transition from activity-to-activity, which will be important as she enters preschool. Make sure your stations reflect your child’s interests.
Bring Outside, Inside: Especially during colder months, bringing some of the outdoors inside may be just what you need to revive your play space. If you have a small portable slide, clean it off and bring it indoors. Perhaps your baby loves digging in the dirt or sandbox. Create a small sensory box where she can get her hands dirty. To keep things tidy, spread out a large picnic blanket or put your baby and the sensory box inside a much larger cardboard box to avoid spillage. Small balls can be a great indoor activity if your space allows.
Art Wall: What is more fun for kids than drawing on the walls? Not much! If your home and your nerves can accommodate it, create a wall where your little one can get creative. Plaster poster board or put up a dry erase board or chalk board along an entire wall. Provide washable crayons, markers and paints and let your tot go wild writing on the walls. Just be sure to put away the art supplies when you’re done so there is no confusion about which walls are for art and which are not.