Toddlers, Toys and Transit

Ride-on diggers, noisy keyboards and bulky Brio train tracks don’t fit into our few suitcases and aren’t suitable for our current living arrangements, so how does one entertain a three year old?


I know there’s a nearly eighteen month old in the equation as well, but keys, a remote or anything that he can tip out tends to satisfy at least for a few minutes. After that, whatever Rufus is playing with becomes the most desirable thing in the room. And it’s not long before Rufus’ arms are flapping with panic as Billy swiftly shuffles towards him, squawking on approach and threatening destruction of whatever is going on.

But then sometimes, just on occasion, there’s a content moment of playing together.

The toy that’s most likely to provide that peaceful moment is currently Duplo. Building towers, houses, aeroplanes, trains..and even breaking them up can bring great pleasure to both participants.


In some ways, we’re in a privileged position of not being swamped by a vast array of toys and so we have to be sure that the ones we have will appeal again and again. I’ve loved watching Rufus grow more and more able to play by himself, and one of my favourite things is listening to his imaginary dialogues as various characters participate in the game of the moment.

I don’t know what your experience of winning toys for pre-schoolers is, but here’s an insight into our nomadic life through a three year old’s toys.

Imaginary play has dominated the last few months, and his favourite scenes involve Postman Pat and his special deliveries. We managed to get a job lot of Postman Pat vehicles, characters and even a post office second hand for Rufus’ birthday, and he loves to create his own narratives, usually involving a ‘hotocopter’. The beauty of this seems to be that there are endless possibilities as his imagination is the limit rather than the functions of the toys.


Having said that, it turns out you really don’t need many toys to fuel the fun, and it can often be the most unlikely things that get played with the most. The winning gift from Christmas was a giant plastic tape measure. It’s played with almost everyday, and if ever other children encounter it, it’s this toy that will be fought over.


While we couldn’t bring our extensive Brio train track on the plane, kind friends have lent us a box of train track like things and it is frequently in demand. Rufus is particularly keen on vehicles having drivers,  so this one is brilliant as it has a population of townspeople and train drivers included. Again, it’s his imagination that brings it all to life. I think that’s also why he’s just got into Lego. Having been given some for his birthday, quiet play during Billy’s nap time is now often spent occupying an imaginary Lego world. He definitely needs help with the building, but he only needs a couple of cobbled together cars and some little men to be happy.

Sometimes, it’s not enough to imagine other people doing it – you just need to be in it yourself, and a superhero cape and mask is all that’s needed.

But, while these are all well and good, it turns out all you need is a couple of bags of nappies and everyone is ‘surfing’ happy.

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