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For a Greener Hill: Alternate Toys

Submitted by Editor on September 25, 2011 – 10:30 pm | Print or Email »No Comment

by Jessica Miller (Emery Street) | This column provides tips on reducing waste while saving money.

If you have children, you probably already know this. But if you have a young baby and don’t have much experience (like me), this advice may be useful: you don’t need to buy a lot of toys to keep baby happy and entertained.

First, many things that you might want to put in your recycling bin make great toys. Of course, those are safe only under supervision (like most toys). A yogurt cup will be fun in the bathtub. Get some in different sizes for baby to pour out of and into. A milk jug with some rice in it makes a good sound maker. An old purse with a soft wallet and old paper, filled with those fake credit cards you get in the mail is good to play pretend. You can also let baby “sort” your paper basket to help you recycle—efficiency not guaranteed… Measuring cups, colanders, pots, and other safe kitchen accessories will amuse the little ones while you make dinner.

Secondly, keep half the toys away for a month. Then switch, and voilà, new and interesting toys appear all of a sudden. Also, utilize resources around you to renew the toys outside of home. Libraries usually have toys. In Eau Claire, we have the Family Resource Center (http://www.frcec.org/) that provides free “Drop in and Play” time with dozens and dozens of toys. For $80 a year, a family membership to the Children’s Museum (http://www.cmec.cc/) will get you a lot farther than the same amount of money spent in toys, too.

Finally, the most entertaining activity with which baby will never get bored is free: spending time with you. Talk, sing, walk, dance!

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