I do not buy toys for Ginny, and I rarely purchase clothes for her as well. I find my money is better spent else where because we have such generous family that we see often. It is nice in that they usually pick out really cute things, but means she isn’t always dressed the way *I* would dress her.
We also do have a nice selection of toys. Some times people will give us Amazon gift cards – which rock socks because then I can pick out the toys I’ve been itching to buy for her, and they are sure to be things she is interested in and capable of playing with.
But sometimes… toys just aren’t interesting. Ginny would rather be playing in the dog food or banging on my laptop. At which point… we improvise.
Dog food really is Ginny’s favorite thing. We have a raised feeding dish set for our older dog Gretel. When she got arthritis in her hips I purchased several things (like a firmer, but still soft) bigger dog bed, and the a fore mentioned bowls) to try and ease her pains. These bowls are now the perfect height for Ginny to splash in the water and play with the dog food (taking a few nibbles if she has the time), and then putting the food in the water. It ends up being a big mess. We’re kind of at a loss right now because we want Gretel to have access to her food, but we don’t want Ginny in it. But… that’s a different story. For now we pick up the bowls when Ginny is in the kitchen.
As annoying as cleaning mushy dog food out of bowls is, I acknowledge that this is developing a skill. Grasping, moving, dropping. So I’ve tried to simulate the same type of activity, in a less wasteful manner.
As you see it is a simple (and cheap) activity. I took two bowls that we already had, and half a bag of beans (that we already had, but cost about $2). This is the dry version. I have demonstrated this activity to her once, and now when I pull the bowls out she knows what to do. She just starts grabbing the beans and moving them.
One note: she saw me cleaning up afterwards and I dumped one bowls of beans into the other by just picking up the bowl… now she tries to do that too. Don’t show your kiddo this move. It results in beans all over the floor… which is okay! Because beans are non-toxic, easy to pick-up and/or sweep and/or vacuum up. They won’t hurt the baby or the dog. Though Ginny chewed on one, spit it out, and hasn’t tried again.
The wet version of this involves a bowl of beans and a bowl with a tiny bit of water in it on a cookie sheet. This maintains the majority of the “mess.” When finished I spread the beans out on a dish towel and let them dry before storing them in the bowl for the next time she needs entertained.
This activity is good for kids that aren’t putting things in their mouth any more, and are into dropping things so you can pick them up. It helps develop their hand/eye coordination, and has been known to last anywhere between 1 minute (when she was sick and not really in the mood) and 15 minutes (with water). If you are worried about the water, us a dishtowel as a bib and just tie it bandanna style.