10 Things My Toddler Would Rather Play With


Despite my very best efforts to provide wholesome and safe options for my newly minted toddler to play with, he inevitably finds something gross or dangerous to entertain himself with instead.

As a summer baby, he had his first birthday bash this past July. Friends and family gathered to shower him with gifts. Brightly colored packages hid the joys of every imaginable toy that – one would think – a small child would go nuts for. He received beach toys, sprinklers for hot days, building toys, throwing toys, and light-up-and-be-loud toys.

But this child will not be deterred. No amount of fresh batteries will convince this kid to stay away from these ten things:

1. Extension Cords. I’m not sure what the allure is but my kid cannot resist wrapping his drooly mouth around an extension cord and gnawing away at the plastic coated wire.

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2. The Toilet. As the sole individual in my house who is not potty trained this child is deeply fascinated with the porcelain bowl filled with water. He wants nothing more than to swim in it. Or throw his toys in it. Or jam his hands in it.

3. The Stairs. My squirmy kid is showing signs of being a thrill seeker at en early age as demonstrated by his reverence of the stairs. He spends his entire day trying to figure out how to break through the baby gate to get to them.

4. Plastic Bags. Child, didn’t you ever see those PSA’s about not letting small kids stick plastic bags over their heads? No, I guess you didn’t. You make every attempt to jam your whole body into them.

5. Dirt. There is no end to his love of dirt and he does not discriminate about its source. I’ve seen him cheerfully sample dirt from the houseplants, the dog’s paws, the garden, the driveway, and the mudroom floor.

6. The Kitchen Trash. Is there a secret treasure in the kitchen trash that I am not in-the-know about? Does the trash can beckon my kid with promises of adventure? Seriously, what gives?

7. The Dog Food. The poor dog cannot eat in peace. Or drink water for that matter. My curious child is forever washing his toys in the dog water bowl or throwing the dry kibble all over the kitchen floor.

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8. Under Chairs. While it is impressive to me that my kid can contort his body into a tight enough ball to fit directly under the dinging room chairs, it scares the ever loving wits right out of me. Kid, you could be squished!

9. The Dryer. I can thank my toddler’s older brother for showing him that the dryer door opens into a giant empty box where he can hide all sorts of evidence of trouble, like fistfuls of dirt from the houseplants.

10. The Hamper. I’ve actually photographed this one about 200 times. My toddler – God love him – will pull out underwear and try to wear it on his head. Can I get a collective WTH? He is clearly and thoroughly confused about the difference between skivvies and hats.

Next year I am going to put an asterisk at the end of the birthday invitation that reads, “Caution: spending more than $5 will result in this kid losing all interest in your thoughtfully chosen gift. A bag of old tube socks and an empty cardboard box is totally acceptable (and probably preferable!) thank you in advance your patience and understanding.”

About the writer


Sarah lives in Maine with her boat-builder husband and two loud boys. In 2012 she earned her MFA and since then she has been featured on several popular parenting sites including BlogHer, In The Powder Room, Mamalode Magazine website, and is a regular contributor to Scary Mommy. Her work will appear in two new parenting anthologies in 2015. You can follow the fun @housewife_plus or on Facebook.

From Around the Web


Misty 12 months ago

This is my son 100% and he is now three and still plays with these things but not cords.

Tami 1 year ago

I think our sons share common interests. Ian, 9 months, will have nothing to do with any kid friendly toy. Instead, anything that can potentially cause harm is where he’s happiest! This article made me laugh!

Nicolle Monoxelos 1 year ago


Krystle Marie Tomasino 1 year ago

My boys r obsessed with the silverware drawer

Andi Homan 1 year ago

Add paper yowl rolls and water bottles too

Rhiannon 1 year ago

#’s 2, 3 and 6 are the big ones in our house. we have an indoor planter box (built in, brick) and my son is forever pulling dirt out, i’m amazed we still have any dirt in there.

As for the other two we do things (like shutting the bathroom door and blocking the stairs) to prevent them being play toys, but with his 5 year old big sister being a bit forgetful he gets where he really wants to be from time to time.

Also if any of our refrigerator magnets go missing they’re most likely placed in someone’s shoe.

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 1 year ago

Try toilet paper lol she loves the pack of toilet paper lol

Crystal Petersen 1 year ago

This describes my daughter to a T lol.

Stephanie Harkness Miller 1 year ago

Oh and my wallet

Stephanie Harkness Miller 1 year ago

The remote…we actually went and asked comcast for an old broken remote.

Kelly-marie Green 1 year ago

My toddler loves my Hoover and just has to play with it , also the washing machine! Lol

Monique Wilson 1 year ago

My 1 year old loves shoes, belts, boxes, empty 2 liters, daddy’s clothes, real cell phones, remotes,real keys, clean unused diapers, laundry baskets, dirty clothes, washcloths, plastic cups and spoons….. Even the toys we got him he stands on or tries to ride his basketball hoop….. So for his 2nd birthday next week we are getting him a new DVD player and an 8hour cars DVD, some kids movies, taking him to the park and some clothes a lot cheaper and simple…..

Dottie Self 1 year ago

Best “toys” in the world, a large cardboard box still with its flaps on and old pots and pans!!! Play time can last for a very long time. Add a wooden spoon in and the child is very happy.

Trisha Mills Russell 1 year ago

My 18month old is obsessed with our vacuum.

amanda 1 year ago

Yep haha toilet, under chairs, in tight fitting places. Cords, and tp
10 months old

Hudson Hilary 1 year ago

Spot on.

Kelcy Ann Potts 1 year ago

My baby is drawn to the fireplace. He will climb any obstacle. (Obviously it’s not being used)

Valerie Ann 1 year ago

11 – Belts, preferably the leather kind as they work wonders for a teething child. Mine will carry his dad’s belt all around the house chewing on it – his own teething rings are ignored at all costs. It’s true, buy him diapers for gifts because I’ll be happy and he will play with the empty box! Win, win!

Mary 1 year ago

My youngest was constantly wearing underwear on her head! Didn’t matter whose underwear, but of course, not hers since she wasn’t potty trained yet.

Alexandra Sliwinski Kavana 1 year ago


Laura Davies 1 year ago

Don’t forget computer power buttons,, remote controls, any sort of phone, pots and pans out of the kitchen, DVDs and video tapes… Every day I’m replacing tapes on shelves because he removes them. Same with DVDs. Pots and pans his three-year-old sister helps him get. Ditto on the toilet. Unfortunately, she’s figured out how to undo the baby gate and will take him into the bathroom to play in the toilet! He’s also developed a fascination for cereal boxes… he thinks they’re big blocks or something. He’s the third kid and when you scold one of his older sisters they give you the wide eyed innocent look, “But you told me to help my brother!” *sigh*

Lila Ruiz 1 year ago

The remote , a REAL working cell phone , Real house keys (not toy ones) , laundry bin ,card board boxes, toilet paper roll , flushing the toilet , Tupperware , spoons , magazine , water bottle ,the cable box , spray bottle , laundry bin , oh and last but not least tampons …. Lmfao perfect one year old birthday gifts !!!

Laura Avendano-Stoecker 1 year ago

I’m not letting him get anymore toys, until he can actually ask for them

Maggie Spinner Anderson 1 year ago

Oh my gosh, number 10! All the time!

Ruth Hughes 1 year ago

Shoe boxes! My three year old and the cat were entertained for a couple hours!

Marnie Chan Demeterio 1 year ago

My girls still love boxes. All kinds. They are 12 and 8 now.

Ayla Ervin 1 year ago

And it is true

Sarah Lowery 1 year ago

Wipes boxes and water bottles

Jennifer Osso 1 year ago

My 11m old played with my old pair of sun glasses for 20min this morning. Laughed like a little loon at his reflection in them.

Becky Whitton 1 year ago

Empty soda bottles, socks & shoes, paper & boxes.

Briony Pegoraro 1 year ago

So true – especially the ‘undies on the head’!

Nichole 1 year ago

My kid is obsessed with the broom and vacuum!!

Carly Bonderud 1 year ago

Anything electronic. Doesn’t matter what it is or if it even works. Also dvd cases, old vhs tapes and bottles (lotion, shampoo, pop, water, the sky is the limit). Oh, and my shoes. And paper. And cardboard. And junk mail…pretty much anything he shouldn’t have, even though he has every friggin toy imaginable.

Jennifer Rollin 1 year ago

So true. Empty pop cans and water bottles.

Christina Matisons 1 year ago

$10 worth of moving boxes = days of entertainment. We still haven’t opened all the toys from my 4 yr old’s birthday 2 weeks ago. The boxes win. (There are 2 toddlers in this photo)

Leslie Veters Sharp 1 year ago

The remote and my cell phone. Shoes. My printer. Anything not a toy! Lol

Jessica 1 year ago

You forgot dishwasher!!

Amanda Matheny 1 year ago

Wow, it sounds like your lo is into all sorts of crazy stuff. I guess I should consider myself lucky mine doesn’t get into that stuff, although he loves to tear the wallpaper off the walls which is irritating, and if there’s a loose string, in his carpet, on a shirt, on a stuffed animal, he will find it and pull it. Have had to throw away a few stuffed animals because he’s created holes and removed the stuffing, grr! He’s also got a lot of ingenuity. We had to put locks on his closet doors so he can’t get into it unless I want him to, because even when he was too short to reach the knob, he’d constantly find something to stand on and give him a boost. He’s done at least half a dozen oter crazy things, like pulling his papas an chair apart which my mom eventually had to tie down with macramé rope, and a variety of other things. I know that level of ingenuity will help him when he’s older, but for now, man is it annoying!

Brittany Oviedo 1 year ago

The dishwasher, the remote, MY phone, the vacuum and all it’s parts, throw the clean/folded laundry on the floor…. Lol. Oh so many more things than 10…. Lol

Sandra Keane 1 year ago

My 16 month old son loves my bras and his fathers dirty jocks. Gross!

Jamie McBee 1 year ago

The dishwasher. Dog toys

Thais Pietrangelo Carter 1 year ago


Catherine Cobb 1 year ago

I completely understand my daughter (3 now) in her early toddler stage was fascinated with the hamper, and a junk drawer we had. Now able to get around better and can climb and quite well had gotten into the trash, dog food, etc..

Elizabeth Hernandez 1 year ago

My daughter is currently playing with wrapping paper

Laura Barajas 1 year ago

My baby likes to hold a small cardboard box and stare eerily into it’s empty interior while he slowly shifts it side to side. Took me several days of wondering whether or not I should be worried about this before I realized he’s just playing with the shadows.

Michelle Fischer 1 year ago

coffee pods…

Kellie 1 year ago

My daughter takes out my dirty underwear and puts her arms through the leg holes and wears it around like a backpack. Sigh.

Krysia 1 year ago

For Christmas this year, my husband has already said that all we are getting our 3.5 month old is tissue paper. He’s of course joking but honestly our baby is most likely going to enjoy the paper more than the toy it wrapped.

I know I’ll probably get criticized for saying this but do be careful letting your little one play in the dog’s food and water. I’m sure your puppy is a sweetheart but even sweet tempered dogs can get possessive of their food when it is constantly disturbed and sometimes lash out to protect it. I’m speaking as a dog lover and a dog owner so I’m not just hating on dogs. I’m sure you do what you can to deter your son but I felt the need to say this.

Maria Sandström 1 year ago

The cat and our son had pretty much similar tastes in toys…

Jeanne Wright Perkin 1 year ago

boxes…empty or full …boxes…

Maria Sandström 1 year ago

I work at a museum so er have visited endless museums…
but my son always ended up inside or outside the elevator. Up and down, up and down…

Maria Sandström 1 year ago

My son (raised in an orphanage) could spend hours playing with the door to the closet under the stairs. Our own little Harry Potter. Since the lightbulb lit up and turned off, he was fascinated. If he received a toy it was only acceptable if it had a door or a hatch. He also enjoyed small videos on Youtube when people filmed elevator doors opening and closing (and moving). You wouldn’t believe how many films there is of elevators on Youtube! On birthday parties he ignored the others and tried out all the doors in new houses… :-)

Heather Danielle 1 year ago

Diaper wipes, remote, gaming controller, clothing tags, etc. Those are all the runner ups for this list. In my house at least. lol

Michelle Nilsson-Hrin 1 year ago

and the toilet scrubby and plunger. irresistible!!

Dara Sorensen 1 year ago

My 3-year-old is still this way LOL. He’s gotten better but for a good year and a half he loved USB cords. And bungee cords. And hampers.

Mindy Malone 1 year ago

Buy them an expensive toy, and they will throw it on the floor and play with the packaging for hours.

Amanda J. Howard 1 year ago

Took the kids to an outdoor sculpture museum today–they had the most fun with the storm drain in the parking lot!

Tiffany Olson 1 year ago

Water bottles….spoons….measuring cups…..heck he even played with a shoe the other day.

Tracy Pierceall 1 year ago

LOL at the hamper. The other night I could hear my 2yo saying yucky…yucky…yucky over and over. Turns out he was saying it each time he removed something from the hamper and threw it over his shoulder. Ultimately he put the hamper over his head and started walking around.

Roxie Guillen 1 year ago

One glaring omission: the remote control.

Lisa Geipel 1 year ago

So true, Kleenex, nail files, too!

Adrianne Ward Burney 1 year ago

Toys? Babies don’t need no stinkin’ toys! 😉 Just go to your favorite store early in the morning when the deliveries come, & ask them for the biggest boxes they have!

Natasha Brenko Bennett 1 year ago

My 10 month old is infatuated with every single one of these!! Oh, and Kleenex/Kleenex boxes!

Kelsey Bishop Whited 1 year ago

So true. My son has finally started to enjoy actual toys. Before it was boxes, tissues, and leaves.

Karen 1 year ago

My son’s first birthday is coming up and we’re in the same boat. Except replace hamper with cloth diaper pail. I had to put a child-proof latch on it. Kiddo, why so obsessed? Did you leave something in one of the pockets? :)

Christine McCarthy 1 year ago

Oh my gosh! Spot on!

Sahar Soliman 1 year ago

Oh No. 10!!!