7 household items your baby wants to play with but really shouldn’t

By Livia Gamble

Parents can buy their baby all the toys in the world, but the reality is, your baby will probably get as much enjoyment from playing with a box of tissues.

For the most part, household items are okay for a baby to play with (hello, wooden spoon), but there are some items should be kept out of reach of babies and toddlers. 

Here are seven household items your baby will want to play with and why they shouldn’t.

1. Thermometer

A thermometer is an essential part of your family first aid kid. When your child is sick, monitoring their temperature is vital, but anything that beeps or has flashing lights will be very alluring to a baby. The problem is that thermometers (depending on the type of thermometer), may contain button batteries that are very harmful to babies if swallowed.

2. Dishwasher and laundry detergent

Okay, this one isn’t uncommon, but it’s worth mentioning. In fact, Raising Children says household chemicals, including laundry detergents, are a common cause of poisoning in children. If left out, powder and pod detergents are interesting for little hands to play with, thanks to the texture. Make sure you purchase detergents in child-proof packaging and read the instructions on how to close the lid properly.

CHOICE says, “Often bottles don’t specify that the cap requires two clicks to be properly closed, so many parents may not be closing the container completely.”

They add: “If you think your child has swallowed something poisonous, stay calm. Take the container and your child to the phone and call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 (24 hours a day, seven days per week, Australia wide). Don’t wait for symptoms to appear – call straight away.”

3. Remote control

What’s not to love? It has the power to make great things happen, namely – turning on the TV. Not to mention, kids mimic their parents – they see them using the remote daily, so they want to as well. The only problem is that it contains batteries and other small parts that could fall off. Keep the remote out of reach and perhaps invest in a toy remote for your baby to play with. 

4. Your keys

They’re shiny, make a noise when jingled, and it can be entertaining to hide them from parents: keys are also another item babies love to play with. What’s the harm? Keys can contain small amounts of lead, so a baby sucking on them isn’t ideal – they can also cause mouth injuries. If your baby really wants to play with keys, parents can try replacing them with a teething set or toy similar to your keys.

5. Coins

Spare change is annoying, especially when it weighs down your wallet or purse. Many people prefer to ditch it once they get home. Money, however, is very shiny and irresistible to kids; it’s also a choking hazard. So if you need to empty your coin compartment, make sure you keep your coins well out of reach of your baby. 

6. Pet toys and bowls

Sorry, but your pet’s bowl is full of germs. In fact, Kitchn reports they are the fourth germiest thing in your home. While kids imitate their parents, they also like to mimic their pets. If your pet’s bowl is left within reach, don’t be surprised if your baby makes a beeline for it – they might even try eating out of it, or drinking the water. Uncleaned pet bowls can be littered with germs, so throw them in the dishwasher like you would your own dirty dishes.

7. Baby lotions

They’re on the changing table, in the bathroom and your nappy bag: moisturisers, nappy creams and other lotions are easily accessible to babies and fun to play with. The first thing a baby will do is pop the tubes or tubs in their mouth, and if the lid isn’t on correctly, they could ingest some of the creams.

While most lotions are safe, playing with them isn’t a good habit to encourage in children: they might upgrade to something more dangerous like vitamins or medicine. says, “Many of them [nappy rash creams] contain zinc oxide. Some contain lanolin or other moisturisers. 

“A lick or swallow of zinc oxide or lanolin cream is not dangerous to a child; larger amounts can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea, though this is unusual.”

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