Toys I’m keeping for the grandkids

Now that we have TWO grandbabies, I’ve been doing some thinking about the things I’d like to have around the house when they come to visit, to make things more comfortable and more fun for them.

A couple years ago I stashed away a tub of infant toys and board books– it took me awhile to reluctantly conclude that my now-7-year-old ‘baby’ had really truly gotten past that stage.  The bin came out over the weekend for 2 month old Zechariah, who is just starting to grab at things.  Our 7 year old Toyspulled out every single item, played with the toys, read the books to me, and thoroughly enjoyed her little trip down memory lane.  I was surprised she was that interested– it was very cute, and made me so glad that we still have at least one little(ish) kiddo in the house.

We still have a couple of high chairs that John made awhile back.  Those will come in handy once our little guys are sitting up well.  I’d like to keep my eyes open at yard sales this summer for a porta-crib too, I think.  Not essential, but it might be nice to have a cozy place to sleep a little one who is visiting us.  I’m also thinking it’d be good to keep a stash of diapers and wipes here.  That’s something my own momma has done at her house for many years, due to her extensive collection of grandbabies.  🙂  Oh, and I’m also hoping to find a baby gate to keep little ones away from stairs.

As far as bigger-kid toys, I’ve got a fun collection of wooden puzzles that I won’t be getting rid of any time soon.  I think I may add this little peek-a-boo feature to some of the puzzles too– isn’t that a brilliant idea?  Other toys I’ll never get rid of include our huge bin of Duplo Legos– they are THE BEST — and a big set of wooden train tracks.  After buying some ourselves, I happened across someone else’s collection at a yard sale, which means we have enough to make trains ALL over the living room, which should be great fun for our little grandsons in a year or two.

What about you?  When you bring your kids to the grandparents’ house, what do you wish was there?  And what toys do you intend to save for your own grandchildren some day?


  1. I commend you for wanting to make your home a cozy grandbaby-haven! My in-laws got their first two grandchildren within four months of each other last year and have done an outstanding job of making their home very comfortable for my sister-in-law and I with our babies. It’s so nice to go to visit and know that I don’t have to worry about ANYTHING, from diapers and wipes to food to a crib and toys.

  2. My dad was in the military and they moved a lot so they had limited ability to save things but my mom insisted they save the duplos and now that we have a 2 year old, I’m very grateful. She loves those things!

  3. We spend sundays with my parents. Our 3 year old’s baby crib is there for her to sleep in. The babies have pack n plays set up in my parent’s room. We have a high chair for each baby there as well. And backup diapers, wipes, and clothes! We even keep our 3 year olds bikes and scooters there because they have a huge paved area and we dont. It helps ALOT to have the baby equipment on hand. Not to mention a big stack of toys!

  4. I never got rid of any of the toys my own kids played with because when I was pregnant with my last baby my first grandchild was born. I have just rearranged and taken out different age toys as the grandbabies have aged.

    And the number one rule in my house is no electronic toys of any kind can be used when at grandma’s except for one–scrabble flash. I have tons of dominos, marbles, noise makers (like use in music classes), bubble wants, chalk, puzzles, tops, and the all time favorite toy of all time playing cards of all kinds.

    Boy a person has to love clear plastic bins for all the different toys a house needs to have!

  5. My mom has a large box of wooden blocks for the grandchildren her place, as well as a wooden toy kitchen that someone at her church was giving away, complete with wooden and felt food items and toy dishes.
    A couple of trucks and a couple of dolls too, and everyone is happy.

    Aside from keeping diapers, wipes, and a pack & play, she also keeps a Boppy nursing pillow so we don’t have to drag ours over there.

  6. How fun!! My parents’ house is very kid friendly for my 3 boys. They’ve kept their Duplo blocks, too!! They also have a big stash of puzzles and books and some board games that we don’t have here. The other thing they have is a big tub of old fisher-price little people and cars and trains. Those are the things I hope to keep for my grandkids – things that kids of any age can play with – duplo legos, our big collection of little people and their cars/buildings, puzzles, and books…..and maybe Mr. Potato Head and all his fun parts!
    When my guys were babies, I did really appreciate that my mom kept a pack-n-play for laying them down for naps. It just made it easier!

  7. I agree totally on the wooden train track and the Lego. We still have those out and ready for visiting little ones even though ours hardly ever play with them now. Other things worth keeping are a couple of ride-ons to scoot around on and always books.
    My mother has kept a lot of our old toys and books and we have only once been able to make the trip back to England since we moved here. The kids did love going through everything she’d put away for them and playing with it all.

  8. You have great ideas. I also kept diapers, wipes, food, snacks, baby wash and shampoo and extra clothes and pajamas at my house. The pajamas go back and forth a lot! I still had books and a few dolls from my children and I’ve picked up other toys at consignment shops or garage sales. Cards and puzzles are good. I also don’t like too many battery operated noisy toys!

    I also try to keep some outdoor toys for them to play with while I work in the yard. I bought a playhouse at a consignment sale and it has been a huge hit with all three granddaughters as well as a water/sand table my neighbor passed down to me. I keep it on the deck and can watch them play from the kitchen.

  9. When mine were small when going to stay with my parents no need to take high chairs or cots, suitable toys were there to pay with, ment a stay was far more relaxing. Having had no children in our family for years l havnt had much need for toys etc. but have been pleased a number of times that l kept the duplo bricks. for visitors to play with, or coloured pens and paper. A child that has something to do behaves well. With a grandchild on the way must start collecting baby equipment

  10. You’re such a great Grandma already! My parents haven’t kept a single toy or made their home friendly to their 6 grandkids. Although they do say they want them to visit. It requires a lot of work on our part to bring our 4 kids over and a variety of toys for a variety of ages, etc. I applaud you and am definitely going to remember to save toys and make Grandma’s house cozy and fun when my kids start their families!

    • That’s too bad. But it reminds me about growing up; One grandma kept things (fairly) kid-friendly, and the other just wasn’t set up for kids at all. Guess who’s house we stayed at when in town.

  11. Samantha says:

    I am so blessed to have my parents live 5 minutes from us. We have 4 kids ages 9 on down with #5 due in July. My parents have dedicated a whole bedroom in their emptynester house as a playroom for the kids. They even got bunk beds for when the kids stay over. Other than the normal toys and things others have mentioned that we have found very helpful to have there are- extra underwear, sweatshirt in case it turns cold, kid plates/cups/silverware, bibs, bouncy chair, toothbrush/paste/shampoo/soap. It is such a blessing to only have to show up to their house on Sundays. Even sleepovers only need PJ’s, extra clothes and blankies. (I really appreciate they have a portacrib, those things are a pain to drag around all the time and a high chair!)

  12. My mum looks after my kids and my neice for a few hours on a weekly basis. She kept the duplo and wooden train set too, as well as the cubby house out the back. Mum always has a set of clothes or two and some pjs. It meant that in those super hard early (or later) days, I could drop in on mum unannounced, and even if I had no “supplies” Mum had everything.

  13. My MIL keeps dipes and wipes at her house and some extra outfits (a must!) and a portable crib for when we stay over or when he stays over (he’s almost 2 now and has done a few nights with her). She also has a bunch of toys. And keep in mind too that the best thing about going to the grandparents house is just those traditional games and experiences the develop over the years. For my son it’s going for a wagon ride and playing naked on the patio which are 2 things we don’t do a whole lot of at our house.

  14. My husbands grandparents kept a chest of dress up clothes (cowboys and Indians, Daniel Boone type stuff). Many battles and adventures were had. My grandpa had a woodshop and he always kept lots of little scraps for us to play with:)

  15. Love that peekaboo puzzle idea. My toddler would love that! Thanks for sharing!

  16. I planned to keep some of my kids’ toys for when we have younger kids over (we often have a family over for dinner) but they sadly got lost. I review books for a website, and so I’ve started requesting board books and picture books, and also the occasional toy. It’s not super intentional, but I like having some options for them besides just DVDs. I think when we get round to actual grandkids I’ll do what you’re doing. I’ve got some time though, and also who knows where I’ll live by then?

  17. i’m sorry if i’m repeating – i haven’t read the other comments. the one thing i wish my son’s grandparents would do at their home is babyproof. when we’re at their house, i can’t take my eye off him for a second, because their living room is full of ceramic decorations and glass-framed photos right at his level. the kitchen cabinets are full of cleaning chemicals and sharp objects, etc. i know that before my son was born, my in-laws hadn’t had a small child in their house in more than 20 years, so i understand how much work it would be to childproof this late in the game. but it would still be nice, kwim?

  18. My mom only had a booster chair for the table and, for a while, a pack and play. She bought a few toys at a yard sale and there are always random pieces of broken dollar store toys there, but they never really suited their needs or ages. Th biggest attraction of Grandma’s house IS Grandma, of course : )

    At my house I do keep a high chair, bib, sippy cup and a few toys for visitors, including some Little People, a Discovery Toys hammer/ball/ramp toy, and infant manipulatives. If I were a Grandma with expectation of little visitors, I’d keep a pack and play, too. Some kind of push or pull toy (“popcorn popper”, bubble mower, pull ducks) as well.

  19. One thing I am always grateful for at my in-laws house is a sippy cup. I usually forget to bring one since when visiting elsewhere my friends have small kids and kid friendly cups. I like not having to worry that they will make a mess! Dinner is not relaxing if you’re constantly watching your kid’s cup.

  20. Like you, the train tracks and legos.

    Also, the fisher price little people dollhouse and barn.

    Also probably some playmobil – the dollhouse.

  21. We had our first grandchild last March, and I’ve started a small collection of toys, as well. I was able to scoop up one of those old Fisher Price telephones at a yard sale last weekend…you know, the kind where the dial actually turns and makes a ringy noise…he LOVES that! A few books are in the basket and a few other toys. But what he really loves about coming to our house is playing in the cabinets. I let him get the pots and pans out and bang on them with spoons! We also purchased a small swimming pool, which he loves, loves, loves! He has his own set of swim trunks at our house! I went to Dollar Tree and purchased several swimming pool toys for him, as well as some freezer pops (probably not a treat he’ll get at home)! We keep a couple extra sets of clothes, dipes and wipes, a high chair, sippy cups, kid-friendly dishes and snacks. We purchased a porta-crib, but we didn’t use it that much, becasue really, what Grandmother can resist having a baby sleep in her arms?!

  22. Mary G. says:

    I’ve kept a fair number of picture books and early readers (though not really board books). In terms of toys, I’ve kept quality ones–lego blocks, basic wooden blocks, some hand-painted wooden figures (made in Germany) that are great for imaginative play, a wooden train set that my son loved, and a couple sets of Lincoln Logs. Oh, and a wooden drum playing clown push toy that was my son’s.

  23. I live close to my MIL, and she has a great Grandma house. She keeps a pack-and-play (two, actually), sippy cups, diapers, wipes, diaper powder/cream, extra clothes (including socks and underwear), and garden shoes (flip flops, or rubbers)around for the grands. We can stop in, and not worry if the diaper bag is stocked, or if we remembered a drink cup for baby. Of course, she also has toys and books for the children that are special Grandma’s house toys. She also left the play house up after her youngest was well past the age of using it, and now the grands play in it, with used-up seasoning containers and vanilla bottles, plastic spoons, and a straw broom cut down to their size. They have a BLAST! And as a mom, it’s nice to know that when we are visiting, she has all the gear.

  24. My Memaw (an adopted grandma of sorts, since mine was 1k miles away)kept a very simple set of toys for us when we were at her home. Crayons and paper were one activity, and the other was a file box full of empty containers (butter and sour cream sort of containers), plastic eggs, detergent scoops, etc., and scarves/fabric ends. It was so simple, but we LOVED it! We played cooking and dress up with the most inexpensive items, that anyone else would probably have pitched.

  25. My kids’ favorite toys at the grandparents’ are Legos, old games and puzzles, and books. Truly! I love that the classics are still the best.


  26. DIAPERS! When we traveled (far) to visit family while our kids were little, I always thought how special it would be if our room had been stocked with some essentials. That would save more $ for mommy and daddy to fill the gas tank to get there! 🙂 Made mental note of it way back then. 🙂

    Now that we have one getting married – all the way down to a pre-schooler – I’ve been thinking of what we’ll keep and what to rid of. Will definitely be keeping the “Loving Family Dollhouse” set we’ve collected. We took all of our legos to the children in Ethiopia when we traveled. Our 7 yr old is very into the new Friends legos. Thinking those will stick around for the grandkids someday. 🙂

    I also have a board book collection that is staying. 😉

    Love this post!

  27. My MIL saved the Fisher Price Little People (the original 1970’s choking hazard ones), and the grandchildren LOVE them. She also has her plastic containers in a low cabinet in her kitchen, and we stole this idea for our own kitchen. She has a stroller in her garage. We paid for and installed a fancy window shade type baby gate, because she was using a pressure gate that adults had to climb over, and I was afraid that I would pitch headlong down the basement stairs!

  28. Hi, I have an idea for a blog post. You’ve seen the trailer for the “Alive Inside” documentary? Very old people in nursing homes who seem nearly comatose get all spunky and talkative when they listen to music that they loved in their youth. You can watch it here: Warning: You will probably cry, but they’ll be happy tears.

    Ok Owlhaven, so my blog post idea is for you (and maybe lots of other people) to post their lists of “What To Put On My iPad When I’m in the Nursing Home.” See, I’m slightly worried that well-meaning young’uns will just ASSUME that since I grew up in the 80s, I’m going to want to listen to Tiffany and Peter Cetera and “Careless Whisper” over and over again. (Oh man, how I hate “Careless Whisper.”) So I think it’s important to record your preferences while you still have the chance. For posterity, see?

    So, what would spunk YOU up in the nursing home?

  29. My MIL passed down a lot of my husband’s toys to us: matchbox cars, lincoln logs, legos, etc.

    At her house, she has a few of her kids old toys (some Little People) and has asked me to buy toys when I find them cheap at consignment sales, so we do have a nice little stash of things for our boys (3 years and 9 months): some cars, little people sets, a riding/push toy. She also has a pack and play for sleeping. A booster seat for mealtimes.

    At my mom’s house she has a wide assortment of toys that she found at garage sales and Goodwill, plus a crib for sleeping. She did save a lot of our old books so we have those at her house. She has a highchair (garage sale again) and a booster that she recently found. I also picked up a cheap bath sling and we rotate those between Nana’s house and Grandma’s house depending on who we are staying with. Another nice option of something to have would be a doorway jumper – we had that with my older son. I nearly forgot, my MIL also has bibs and toddler bowls/spoons!

    I will probably save too much for our kids/future grandkids! Definitely classic toys like wooden blocks, Legos, some cars, plus any toys that turn out to be particularly special to them. Also the books that were their favorites at each stage. 🙂

  30. The one thing my mom has insisted on having at her house is a swing. It was such a lifesaver when I was there with a fussy little one! We also keep a change of clothes for each kid at her house, as well as a fold-up booster seat. Now that I think of it, she has one of my port-a-cribs too…

  31. Bridget says:

    I intend to save our puzzles!! I love, love, love puzzles my Mom still does and she’s in her 70’s. Its great for little ones and older children. My kiddos will sit and focus for a great puzzle and you can take a break and get back to it. Oh yes, we always have a few kids who grab a piece and wait to be the last one to finish the puzzle! I remember doing the exact same thing. Another item would be books! Board books, classics from my childhood and new ones my kids like. Nothing better then snuggling with grandma or grandpa with a great book!!

  32. I have books that I know I will still want to read when the grand-kids come in the distant future. I hope they will love them as much as we have.

  33. My mother in law, God rest her soul, kept so many toys that belonged to my husband I was blown away. My sons were age 5 and 9 when I married my husband. The first time we went to her home after our marriage my son’s didn’t know what to call her. They asked her if she wanted to be called Mrs.XXXXX. She looked at them like it was the most silly question she had ever been asked and said “I am grandma” so call me grandma. She was a sweet woman but she won my heart that day forever. She treated my sons like they were her own blood grandchildren. Never in all the years she was alive did she give her ‘real’ grandchildren a thing she did not give my sons. They adored her. She kept a large wicker box in her sun room. In that box was a bunch of toys that belonged to my husband. Lincoln logs, an old train set (complete with tracks) his ball glove and ball, (from when he played little league) and lots of his games. My husband was surprised to see most of the things as he did not know she kept them. Come to find out, she had a box of toys that belonged to each of her 4 children.
    I kept some of our sons toys too. I have the same Lincoln logs, leggos, and lots of books and puzzles.
    Now, I have 4 grand children. They all love the toys that I have kept. Sometimes they find it funny that their parents had to play ‘board’ games and watch ‘regular tv’ not games on their TV.

  34. Mary,

    Not at the Grandchildren stage yet, but thinking of the things we have now I would want to keep…Brio Trains…my boys loved these up until about 12 or so…Duplos/Legos…DEFINITELY…
    My favorite board books…I’ll have to make a list sometime…
    The Crib all FIVE of my children have been in and that I DO NOT HAVE THE HEART TO GET RID OF… 🙂 As the get older, I would add Tonka trucks and a Kitchen set up…that’s all I can think of right now…
    Great Post!

  35. Irish Longueville says:

    Wooden toys have continued to be a common part of childhood. By the 1700’s, German toymakers began to craft a variety of play figures from wood to sell to the general public. Salesmen would travel around Europe to market their popular wood toys, taking advance orders for special occasions. Almost life-like dolls and animals were becoming favorite playthings for children all over Europe.-

    Our own blog page