I thought while I was writing up this week’s Lego Fun Friday that I would also address how we are handling big boys with Legos (and other toys with teeny parts like Playmobil) while we have a baby in the house.

Jonathan is now 7.5 months old. He is not crawling yet, but he can roll and scoot wherever he wants to go! It’s really not practical to say that the big boys are just not going to play with toys with little parts, and so about a month ago, we started really cracking down on tiny toys left all over the house. And when I say all over, I mean all over. Lego guys on the kitchen table, Lego accessories in the carpet, minifigure heads in the couch cushions, playmobil swords on the stairs.

First I tried nagging. When nagging didn’t work, I decided we needed a system. My system is called the “Random Toy Box.”

Managing toys with little parts when you have a baby in the house

Here’s how it works:

If I find toys laying around not being played with (little dangerous ones), or toys left out after clean-up time is over, I simply pick them up and put them in the random toy box. It’s not actually a box. Downstairs, they go on the windowsill. Upstairs, they go on my dresser.

On Friday, all the toys are released from the random toy box and all the boys help put them where they belong. That means that if a toy is left out on Saturday, they can’t have it back until Friday. It has to be painful enough that they have some motivation to keep things put where they belong, but at the same time, having a system helps me to not respond in anger and take toys away for an amount of time directly related to how mad I am.

So far, I am happy with how it is working. Just today, Aidan was trying to talk me into having his Playmobil rifle back early (the tan one in the picture up there!) because he didn’t leave it out – it was Owen’s fault. He had left it on the kitchen island, not the floor. Grandma was over at the time, and she commented that maybe his little toys shouldn’t be left on the island. Bingo! During this stage, the boys have to play with those things up in their rooms or at the table and then put them away. Jonathan’s life is worth taking the extra effort!

For those of you with big kids and little kids – how do you handle the tiny toys at your house?


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  1. Kimberly S. Aug 17, 2012

    Haha, I've done something similar. Not because of our little one, but just in general with my 4 year old who hates cleaning up. I've threatened to throw out toys before, which usually gets him moving. Well, a week ago when I told him to start picking up, he told me he didn't want to and to just throw them all out because he doesn't want to play with his toys anymore. Call my bluff?? Yeah, didn't work. I got out the garbage bag and threw all toys laying out in the bag. Boy did his attitude change when some of his favorite toys ended up in that bag. Lots of tears and being told about how sad the toys were. I told him to pray to God for forgiveness and ask God to watch out for his toys. And just maybe if he did good with listening, the toys would come back from the trash. There has been a difference this week with his listening, so I think the trash bag of toys may make a reappearance. But boy, were those tears hard for me, but I know that I'm the mom first and a friend later. I did give him lots of comforting hugs before bed and I'm still getting I love you's, so I must not be too mean.

  2. cute and peculiar Aug 20, 2012

    Great Idea!

  3. Nell Sep 24, 2012

    We made the older children play with the little bits in their room and the youngest one is not allowed in the other kid's room.

  4. Ellen Aug 17, 2013

    I have to have a box like this for my husband, too. haha.

    1. Sarah Aug 17, 2013


  5. Wendy Aug 17, 2013

    We do have an informal "toy jail" on top of the fridge, but honestly we all forget it's there. First world problems. Anyway, my solution is "containment" of the poky insanity. I ordered a couple sizes of replacement trays for dog kennels, maybe 2' x 3' and 3' x 4', and that's where the sets live. They're rigid like the kitchen table, big enough to build and play on, easy to pick up (they live on top of the real dog kennel, and stack), and it's easy to tell if you left any weapons behind on the carpet. Because you know they're really all weapons. Ask my feet. If they want to switch sets the "active" one gets dumped back in its bin except for showcased creations.


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