When a friend told me her toddler chewed the toilet brush handle I didn’t even flinch. It was probably the brush too, that’s about right. While the people at Fischer price probably have some impressive qualifications in toy design and undoubtedly spend hours thinking up ways to both entertain and stimulate the growing mind, they’ve got nothing on the home section of Kmart. So if you’re having a new baby think of this list as ‘the real baby essentials list’ and if you have a child that’s mobile, well no need to hang your head in shame – we’ve all been there.

1. An old dirty shoe. Shoes are wonderful things. The flat rubbery kind are great for teething on (move aside Sophie le giraffe) with the added bonus of good bacteria and crunch (read dirt). Slapping them together provides music and teaches them to cross the midline, an important developmental millstone. Trainers have laces which, although pose a strangulation hazard, pulling at them is great for fine motor co-ordination. If your boy is trying to walk in your sparkliest heels he’s practicing gross motor development and balance. He’s a future ice hockey star!

2. The toilet brush. Aah the toilet brush. Probably the most bacteria infested item in your home. It truly is disgusting. And extremely texturally interesting to a child. It’s the wonderful combination of a brush and a stick to wave and often there’s the added benefit of spraying water around if you shake it. Children are drawn to these. I have a suspicion they are just trying to get to us.

3. Tuppawear. Not only do these store food, they give you an opportunity to cook food too. What child hasn’t happily unpacked the tuppawear draw while their parent cooked dinner?! There can be a pile of toys lying on the floor but tupperwear is the toy of choice. It’s great for musical self-expression – you can bang it or put things in it and shake it. Or you can throw it at your parent.

4. Fragile glass bottles, bowls and vases. Once again I think they are just messing with us here. What better way to get your mom to scream than pick up something glass. It’s just funny. Plus it inevitably results in a game of catches.

5. Toilet paper. This is great stuff for unrolling. Unrolling is generally followed by tearing, which is an important skill they will need when they start school. Bet you didn’t know taking them to the toilet with you was school readiness preparation?! As they get older toilet paper is great for imaginative play and dress up – ghost, mummy…the possibilities are endless!

6. The broom. Swinging around a broom while walking is teaching them balance. If they have a sibling they are probably learning combat skills too. Added bonus – the valuable life lesson of learning to clean up after themselves.

7. Power sockets. Turning these on and off is fine motor development. Light switches teach cause-effect relationships. Oh and why would people put holes in the wall if not to try poke things into them? Scratch that, best get a socket protector.

8. The phone charger. My kids love this one. It’s a strangulation hazard so it scares mom plus it’s great for pulling, biting and wrapping. But if you intend to charge your phone in the future maybe hide it.

9. The bin. Yay for bins. They are full of dirty mushy stuff you shouldn’t touch. Think of it as a disgusting textural tub. Added bonus if it’s a pedal bin because what kid doesn’t like making things slam with their feet?!

10. A box. This is widely acknowledged by parents as the best toy. Ever. Climb in it, put things in it, push it, draw on it. Never mind the toy that came in it. Empty box equals hours of fun.

Well there you have it. Consider your Christmas shopping done! You’re welcome.