Reddit Thread Shows Keeping Kids Busy Doesn't Need To Be Complicated

One parent called their homemade sensory bin "lazy." We call it simple and smart.

Child playing on floor with box and packing peanuts
Photo: Getty

Some parents have mastered the art of playroom minimalism, while others can't leave the store without picking up a little something for their tiny humans. It's natural—we want to see our children smile and keep them happy and engaged.

Of course, then there's the whole buyer's remorse thing that happens when you have a home overflowing with toys that your kid doesn't use. Instead, they gravitate towards your fork, water bottle, and spice rack.

It may be time to take a cue from your kiddo. One Reddit parent described how they kept their child entertained and even worked on skill development. Spoiler alert: There wasn't a toy in sight.

The Redditor, who goes by u/Organic_dichotomy, posted their "lazy man's sensory bin" in the Toddler subreddit. To make it, they said they threw "fruit loops & cheerios in a big bowl with chopsticks."

It sounds like quite the breakfast-inspired combination. But dig a little deeper, and this person also nailed some ways to help their little one practice important skills.

"Independent play, hand-eye coordination, plus a snack, all rolled up into one," the Redditor said.

Some fellow Redditors were inspired.

"BRB throwing things in a thing and calling it a morning. Not even sarcasm," wrote one person.

"I know you were making a bit of a joke, but this is actually genius," another replied.

Other commenters shared their favorite DIY, toy-free sensory bins.

"My kid got a turkey baster, muffin tin, ping pong balls, and a bowl of water. I didn't even have to get him dressed since he was going to get soaked anyway," someone said.

"My child is currently busy picking marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box. It's our morning hand-eye coordination activity," a commenter said.

"Literally, yesterday mine was a mixing bowl of water with a wooden spoon, measuring cup, and orange slices floating in it. Go nuts, guys," wrote someone else.

These sensory bins may sound like the easy way out, but at least one expert and mom of four children completely disagrees.

"Kids do not need actual toys," says Alanna Gallo, the founder of Play, Learn, Thrive and Growing Up Gallo. "They are born to play and will naturally gravitate towards open-ended items."

Parents often joke that kids play with the box a toy came in more than they play with the actual toy. Gallo says there's a reason for that.

"The box is open-ended, and often the toy isn't," Gallo says. "Open-ended toys are going to provide endless play possibilities, keep kids engaged for longer periods of time, and encourage creativity and imagination more than any trendy toy will. The simpler, the better when it comes to toys and play."

What's one of Gallo's go-tos for her family?

"Sticking spaghetti into a colander is a favorite in our house," she says.

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