4 ways you can save money on toys

Babies and toddlers don't need fancy toys, they need things that are age-appropriate and interesting. Here are four tips that will help you find fun and interactive toys, without spending a bundle.

4 ways you can save money on toys

1. Keep it simple

  • Don't buy soft toys because your baby will be given lots and they provide little stimulation for very young children.
  • It is better to buy perennially popular items such as stacking cups, balls that rattle and wooden blocks.
  • A baby gym is useful, and you can look for this at garage sales or second-hand stores.

2. Share the fun

  • Swap toys with friends to give your child maximum variety without spending a fortune.
  • Ask relatives with older children to pass along toys and games to you as their children outgrow them.
  • Join a toy library where you can borrow toys for nothing (or a nominal fee). For details of local toy libraries, ask at your local library or community centre.

3. Second-hand buys

  • Visit garage sales, local school fairs, consignment shops and Christmas toy fairs. There is always a toy stall, and you'll find games, puzzles and toys, often in pristine condition.
  • Trikes and bikes are quickly outgrown and can be picked up second-hand for a fraction of their original cost. Look out for bike auctions at local schools, where your child can try them before you bid.
  • Police in many Canadian cities have auctions on bicycles and other toys every spring to help those in need and improve community relations.
  • School fairs and sales have booths that often include toys that have been outgrown by their original owner, and are generally clean, well looked-after and in excellent condition.
  • Discount bookshops may have remainder book sales where you can pick up many bargains.
  • Don't forget to borrow books from the local library — they are also a great source of videos, DVDs and CDs. Sometimes the library will sell off old books that are taken out of circulation.

4. Make it yourself

There are many DIY craft ideas available online that only require items lying around your house. For example:

  • Make a shaker by half-filling an empty water bottle with dried lentils or rice. Ensure the lid is screwed on tightly.
  • Cover a cereal box with plain paper and then stick on pictures of animals, flowers or family photographs. Babies love looking at the pictures and will turn the box over and over.
  • Make a ball from scraps of different-textured material stitched together and stuffed with old tights. For extra interest, include a bell inside the ball.

What your baby or toddler needs most can't always be found in expensive toys. Spend time with them and encourage inexpensive play to keep them active and happy.

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