There will come a day, probably when your baby is around five or six months, that she will no longer be amused by brightly coloured or pastel coloured, hard or squishy baby toys. No matter how novel they are, your baby will somehow be able to detect that they are intended for her, and as such she will turn her little baby nose up at them, especially when you particularly want her to be quietly absorbed in something, like when you're at a restaurant or on a plane.
It is at those times that you will have to resort to baby toys that aren't. Fortunately there are plenty of them, and anyone who has had a baby for a while has a few tricks up their sleeve.
In Your Bag
Keys, of course, are classic. They jingle, there are lots of different and interesting textures, they are cold and hard on itchy teething gums, and it doesn't matter if you slobber all over them. Provided you clean them off before you give them to the baby.
Credit cards (or perhaps more sensibly, loyalty cards or something else you can easily replace) are nice too. They're a good size and weight to hold on to, and they have those interesting embossed letters on them.
Water bottles -- for some reason babies love water bottles. Both Cordelia and Delphine played with them for hours! Well, minutes, which are like hours in baby years.
In Your Kitchen
The kitchen is packed with interesting things to chew on. Wooden spoons are great -- you hardly ever see baby toys made of wood, so it's probably a new and exciting texture for your baby. Teaspoons are nice, too -- smooth and hard and shiny. Delphine really liked a silicone spatula, and Cordelia amused herself for half-an-hour the other day with a bright red silicone basting brush. It must have felt so interesting in her mouth, all those little soft silicone bristles.
Measuring cups and small bowls are fun too, especially when you drop them on the floor and they make a spectacular rang-tang-tanging noise. (Unless you have a baby who startles easily, in which case she will probably scare herself and cry and cry.)
I had a surprise hit the other day with one of those mesh bags you wash your bras in -- Cordelia sucked it, she chewed it, she stuffed it in her mouth and pulled it out again (it was like a magic trick), she found the label and chewed on that. No end of amusement!
In Your Living Room
Okay, there's not much in here -- you don't want your kid playing with your CDs or chewing your books. But there is one thing that every baby covets: the remote control. And don't try and buy one of those brightly coloured fake-o toy remotes, either, your kid is too smart for that. She wants the real thing! The only hope is to find an old remote that doesn't work any more, take out the batteries and make sure none of the bits are going to come off, and let her have it.
In Your Bedroom
Hairbrushes and combs keep Cordelia amused while I change her diaper, and sometimes when I'm desperate I give her a lotion bottle for a few moments (after checking that the lid is secure.)
Fabric is fun for babies; I have had success with a lovely pair of brightly printed silk boxer shorts (sorry Blake). Silk is especially good for a baby who is just beginning to grip, because it is incredibly light and easy to get a grip on. Cordelia seems to enjoy the texture of a wet or dry facecloth.
The bottom line is, don't feel that you have to limit your baby to baby toys. You can give her any old thing provided it's reasonably clean, and that it's not going to break up into chokeable or sharp pieces. Use your common sense, and you and your baby will be quietly amused for, well, minutes.