Top Tips for Little Ones

Talcum powder is good for removing wet sand from babies and toddlers, without harsh rubbing from a towel.

Can tops. Collect up empty and clean tops from hairspray cans, shaving foam cans, laundry liquid scoops, etc and put them into a box. They make great playthings for various activities like pouring water, stacking games, holding pretend tea parties, for use in the sandpit etc.

Laundry basket. Your laundry basket is not only good to use when hanging out the laundry, but children love to play in it. It can also be used as a portable playpen for babies who can sit up or almost sit up by themselves. Put in a pillow and a few toys to keep them entertained. If you have a paddling pool, just put your laundry basket in with the baby inside. This stops the toys floating away and subsequent reaching and slipping under the water. It can be used in the bath in the same way.

Cleaning-up help. Another use for your laundry basket is to carry toys and a picnic lunch in at the beach, travelling from the car to the sand, and for tidying up at home. Load it up with items that need to be put away in other parts of the house, and it will save you lots of little trips.

Toilet Training. To help your son with toilet training, drop little pieces of toilet paper into the bowl and get him to aim at them until he gains better control.

'Veggie-hating' young children. Blend raw veggies in a food processor or chop very finely and then add to soups, stews, casseroles etc. They should be so minute that they aren’t even noticed. they aren't even noticed.

Bath toys can be stored in a mesh fruit bag that can be hung over the bath taps after use to drain.

Sandpit Box. A broken or damaged paddling pool or even an old dingy can become a sandpit by adding clean sand and a cover.

Sandpit covers. Plastic trellis is good to cover sandpits with, as it stops animals fouling the sand and is easy for children to remove by themselves.

Try tying a teething ring to the pram, highchair or changing table, so baby always has something to rattle and chew on (especially during teething), that can't get lost.

Medicine. If your baby won't take medicine from a spoon, put it in baby teat and let them suck it. For tablets, crush up and mix with a spoon of honey.

Old towels can be turned into baby bibs, or put in the bath to stop slipping.

Make sheets last longer. When your child moves to a big bed, turn their sheets up the other way each week, instead of washing them, as they are usually so small that they only use 1/3 of the bed anyway. It will help the sheets last longer and wear more evenly too.

Avoid Spills. If you find your young ones spilling their drink at the table, buy a placemat with a colourful picture or animals and numbers etc, and teach them to put their drink down on one particular shape each time, that is safely out of elbow reach. You will find they enjoy looking at the placemat and even when it is not there, they will still remember where the drink should be in relation to their plate and elbows.

Empty wet wipe containers make great baby rattles with pebbles, stones, rice, acorns etc inside. Be sure to secure the top with cellotape or masking tape so they can't be opened easily. They can also be used to store matchbox cars or plastic animals if you remove the lids, or make a moneybox out of one by enlarging the slit in the top and covering with paper and decorating.

Bags for bibs. Calico bags made in a tube shape with elastic or ribbons at each end make good storage bags for baby bibs or hankies. Put clean ones in the top and pull them out of the bottom when needed. The bag can be hung on the side of the highchair by attaching a piece of string to it, or tying with its ribbon.

Cardboard Boxes. Most children love big cardboard boxes, so save any you can for a few days, and let them play in and around them using their imagination to create boats, cars, dolls houses etc.

Always keep a container of wet wipes and a box of tissues in the car. You will probably use them very frequently for all sorts of messes.

To help your baby to sit up and play with toys on their own, blow up a child's swim ring and place it around their tummy. They will enjoy poking it especially if it has bright pictures on it, and will offer protection all around if they happen to topple over.

Keep a nappy (diaper) bag always packed and ready. Add to it every time you use a nappy or something else from the bag. Keeping a can of baby food (with a peel top lid, no can opener needed) is handy if you are caught out with a hungry baby or break down somewhere unexpectedly.

Peppermint essence is a good quick alternative to creams to help stop itching after receiving a mosquito bite, especially for children as it doesn't irritate sensitive skin and smells good too.

Toy scoop. To quickly pick up small blocks or toys off the floor, cut up a plastic bottle like a large sauce bottle that has a handle on it, and use that to scoop up the toys. Your children will want to use it to tidy up too.

Inexpensive and changeable mobile. Instead of buying an expensive baby mobile, you could purchase a plastic clothes hanger with pegs attached to it, and then hang up different coloured toys that can be changed regularly.

Clean doll's tea sets by soaking in water with a little bit of baking soda. It takes away any stains and makes the plastic smell fresh again.

Baby baths that are no longer used can be put outside with lots of plastic odds n' ends in them to use as a little paddling pool during the summer months. They can also be used as a doll’s bath, small sandpit, toy storage box inside or under the bed, or in your garden with herbs or flowers planted in it.

Children’s baking equipment. Save boxes and empty containers that are suitable for pretend baking, like Christmas pudding containers, baking soda containers, yeast and yogurt potties, empty salt and sauce bottles, an egg carton, small spice packets etc. When you are baking and have a toddler or two at your feet, you can get out their box of baking equipment along with an old spoon and an ice cream container or plastic bowl, and they can keep busy baking on their own.

Clean and empty roll on deodorant bottles can be re-used by adding sunscreen to them from a large pump pack for your child to put in their swimming bag. You can also add liquid paint to them for a different kind of painting effect.

To make a quick indoor ball, either roll up a pair of socks inside itself, or roll up a sheet of newspaper or coloured junk mail and secure with cellotape.

Clothes pegs. If you run out of toys or ideas to keep your little ones amused, especially if on holiday, get out the clothes pegs. Small children will like to chew on them and put them in and out of a bucket or container, and older children will enjoy clipping them together to make models or laying them down into shapes or colour grouping them. You can also set up a container and practice tossing one peg at a time into the container moving further away each time you get one in.

Fluffy feather. A very inexpensive and entertaining idea for a young baby is to put a little honey on their fingertips and give them a fluffy feather to play with.

Howick, New Zealand

Ross and Victoria have three children, Keegan, Cayden and Jaymee.



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