Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Casting Lots: A Homemade Baby and Child Safe Dice Container

With Thanksgiving and National Games Week upon us, board games are emerging from closets all over America.

Most games with choking hazard sized dice are aimed at children old enough to keep them out of their tracheas. However those older, wiser children may have younger, less sensible infant/toddler siblings, cousins, friends, or guests who consider the tiny blocks the height of culinary fashion.

Dice may fall into tiny, unauthorized hands when older kids get distracted from their game, finish without picking up, or simply face a relentless toddler onslaught.
Some months ago, we saw a clever (but expensive) solution for this at our local toy store. Haba makes a fill-it yourself Dice Tumbler. It's versatile in a way that their one die and two dice shakers are not. It allows for specialized dice and possibly more than two if they're small. All Haba's models have a nice clear dome cost at least $10 when you buy locally or factor in shipping online. We put the tumbler on our family gift wish list and promptly forgot about it (sometimes I am hard to part from $10).

A few days ago I needed to take a couple dice to my ESL class. As I didn't want to lose them in my bag I grabbed a clean, fat pill bottle (~1.5 inch diameter) to contain them.

We reuse pill bottles a lot (and even ask friends and relatives to save them for us). They are great locking containers for needles, thumbtacks, hairpins, rings, earrings, coins, and a whole host of other small objects. Maybe it was the routine of using a pill bottle to store stuff, but I completely missed the obvious dice dome in my hand.

At class, BabyGeek procured the container from my bag and EUREKA(!) a hack was born. He views the container as a very fine baby-sized maraca, but I plan to leave a few fat bottles in the game closet.

The bottle can be either shaken and placed cap down (as pictured) or, for the enthusiastic gamer, the whole object can be thrown. No matter what side the container lands on, there are dice definitively facing up.

Our improvised dice dome is actually so irresistible to BabyGeek that while I was snapping a picture of the hack, a small hand invaded the frame and extracted the subject. He didn't put it down for half an hour despite being surrounded by other toys.

Maybe he is trying to break into the competitive and lucrative world of baby hand models.

Happy Thanksgiving, and happy gaming!


Stephanie Marushia said...

This may be a bit picky but it's something to consider for your situation. I love this tip but...

As a Mom with a neurological disorder that often has RX bottles in my purse and on my nightstand (we lock the bedroom door from the outside anytime we leave the room) I worry about kids in homes that have a lot of medication around getting the idea that it's OK to play with them.

When my 2 yr old sees a pill bottle he says "don't touch; Mama's medicine." I would like to keep it that way as we are terrified that no matter how many precautions we take he will one day get into a "childproof" bottle.

Here are a few alternatives.

1. Ask your doctor for urine sample containers - they are clear and roughly the same size! If your baby can twist you can superglue the lid before putting it on - if you need to get into it later just grab a Ginsu :) knife or a saw.

This will keep that RX bottle amber color a signal that this is hands off!

2. Find a clear bottle of something else childproofed or see if the pharmacist as any clear bottles he can use. I would imagine there are some pill keepers (in the pharmacy section) that have childproof tops that won't look like something we never want them to touch).

3. Mark RX bottles that actually have medication in them with a red dot sticker, or some other indication that it isn't to be touched by the kids. This could also be used for other objects that are a no-no so the children are trained that if they see a red dot they should steer clear. Of course this could just make things attractive that it hadn't occurred to them to get into before!!!

Ahhh, the joys of parenting!

adrienne said...

Thanks, Stephanie!

Your observation is very valuable, and the protective coloration concept hadn't crossed my mind at all (even though we use pill bottles to hold lots of little things we don't want our stunt monkey getting into).

I'll talk to the pharmacist and see if she has any clear locking containers next time we're at the pharmacy.

Thanks for the improvements on this idea. I'll post any new findings from the pharmacy.

ErinMarirWatson said...

This infuriated my 2 year old as she just want me to open it and get the dice!!! All heard from her is "Mummy out" and "Mummy open it"!!