1. Your phone.
Don’t buy them their own. Not only is this silly considering they will probably ring Australia and leave the line open for 7 hours and 33 minutes, but they will never, ever like it as much as yours.
2. A wire.
Preferably one attached to the wall. Preferably with a switch you can flick on and off. Also preferably with something interesting at the other end.
Don’t bother buying expensive garden toys. Just re-landscape your garden to include a giant set of dangerous steps! As soon as they are on the move, your baby won’t want to play with anything else!
4. Your car keys
Real keys that drive your real car. They will not be fooled by coloured plastic keys. They would like to roam around with these real keys and slot them into toys, into cupboards, and `between sofa cushions. It would be unreasonable to expect them to stay within eyesight – and they won’t.
5. Your glasses
Glasses for your eyes, that is. Although having said that, a box of wine glasses would also be fun. So generally, if they are glasses and they belong to you, they will go down very well indeed.
Not for the windows! For swinging on, hiding behind, winding themselves up in, and trying to pull off the window frame. All done with a high-pitched squeal (in case you had any doubts where they were hiding).
7. Your bag
Sacrifice your bag and its contents and your baby’s attention will be gripped for record lengths of time! Yes, the contents will be emptied onto the floor, dropped between cracks in the floorboards, and scattered in mystery places throughout the house, but think of it as a sacrifice for your child’s happiness and will soften the blow.
8. Older children
Especially the kind that are boisterous, noisy and liable to cause injury in play areas. Your baby will want to follow them like a little lamb, up the steepest ladders, down the most extreme slides, and generally wherever the older child likes to put their big, stampy feet.
Expect a toy that belongs to an older child to become the single most important toy in the entire world. Hazardous small parts or frightening elements will be an advantage.
10. A box of tissues.
To pull out the box one by one, rip up into a million pieces, and leave all over the floor like cheap confetti. Also to take to the sink and create a big sloppy mess that blocks up the plug hole (nb: a toilet roll works just as well).
11. A cupboard with breakable items inside.
The contents must have breakable. Don’t try and fool them with less entertaining plastic goods. They will lose interest in seconds.
Wheels on buggies, wheels on scooters, wheels on their sibling’s bicycle, wheels on massive great trucks. Babies aren’t bothered about what they belong to – they turn round, which makes them one of the best toys ever made (especially if they recently rolled through dirt).
A walking toy for pinning to the floor for hugs, licking, and sharing food. This would in fact be the best toy ever, but you will find that it is unreliable (he is usually hiding on top of the kitchen cupboards or roaming the streets several miles away from his baby).
14. The dog
As above, except the dog is unlikely to run away, making it far better value for money as toys go.
15. The toilet
Fascinating. Makes louds noises when you drop the lid, has water inside for dropping things into, and isn’t always the most hygienic spot in the house – which makes it brilliant fun!
16. Credit cards
The great thing about credit cards is that a) you can chew them and b) they slot perfectly between things, under things, and behind things. The more credit cards you can spare, the more fun baby will have!
Shiny coins! That they absolutely, definitely, totally have to put into their mouth as soon as they see them. Just to see if they taste nice. And give you a heart attack when you see a flash of gold between their teeth as they stride past.
The dirtier, the better. And yes they will need to put the soles into their mouths and chew as a taste test. That’s just how it is.
In fact, this applies to anything wet, messy or yucky. Old chewing gum, for example, would be a great toy. As would the dog’s bowl, a dirty puddle, or the leftovers in the bin. Warning – they will definitely want to taste it too.
20. People who don’t really like children
When they catch sight of these child-hating people, they wont be able to resist making enough noise to draw attention to themselves, smiling like a loon to a completely blank response, and making a beeline for them whenever they have the freedom to move. These people are like the Pied Piper of Babies (only they hate children).