How to Create the Perfect Toddler Play Space on a Budget

In the early months of a baby’s life, they don’t need a lot to feel stimulated. Simple objects like a poster featuring bright colors, a mirror to watch their reflection, or a rattle they can shake often keeps them curious and content. As babies grow and become more mobile, most parents find that creating a designated play space for baby helps them learn and develop in a safe and satisfying way. Whether you have a dedicated playroom or a corner where you keep your little one’s things, check out the tips below for creating a fantastic play space on a budget. 

Image via Flickr/ Sean Choe

1. Choose a safe space 

The most important element of a good play space is that your child be able to freely explore it. By choosing a space where your child can't get hurt or break anything important to you, you give them the literal space they need to learn and grow. It also saves you from having to monitor their every move or act as the no-no police. Your safe space should be free of any uncovered electrical outlets, unanchored furniture, and anything else that may not be safe for baby. If you don't have a room you can dedicate to being a safe space, consider purchasing a large, gated play yard for your child to roam in. 

2. Don’t buy toys 

It may seem counter-intuitive to avoid buying toys for a playroom. But sticking to things you already have on hand can be both cheaper and lots more fun for your child. Toys are often costly and only designed to be played with in one way. Once a child discovers how a toy works, they often lose interest. Instead of wasting money on one-time-use entertainment, search your home for safe toy alternatives that baby can enjoy. Most kids love pots, pans, cooking utensils, and books. They might also enjoy opening and closing small containers or running their hands over different types of fabric.

{ MORE: 3 Great Things (and 3 Not-So-Great Things) About Having an Early Walker }

 

3. Bring in nature 

Bringing elements of nature into your play space can spice up your child's selection of non-toy playthings without adding any cost to your budget. Flowers, pine cones, and rocks too large to be swallowed often serve as great nature toys. Make sure that anything you bring in for your tot is large enough to avoid choking and clean enough that you wouldn't mind it ending up in their mouth. 

4. Change it up 

Toddlers love to explore their environment and nothing brings excitement like something new to touch and play with. Instead of putting everything that's suitable to play with in your play space every day, consider rotating in a few items at a time. When kids only have a few things to play with they are able to fully explore what they have. They also have the opportunity to be surprised again and again as you change out their playthings for something new! 

{ MORE: 5 Tips for a Minimalist Playroom }

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How to Create the Perfect Toddler Play Space on a Budget

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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