I already know that your baby loves to dig around in your bag. They love holding your purse. They love fiddling with the zips. They love tipping everything out. They love pulling at the cards. They love jingling your keys. And I know that you're like "yayy this is keeping you occupied" whilst simultaneously thinking "omgggg I hope you don't lose my keys/tip put my coins / display my tampons for all to see".
The answer? Give them their own handbag. Most people have an old one lying around, or an opshop will have them for next to nothing. Fill an old purse with all those coffee cards you will never use and your old credit cards. Add some heuristic items to the bag (the more compartments and zips the better!) and let your child explore! You can switch up what's inside every now and again to make it more exciting. If you can find some old keys - BONUS! I'm going to keep an eye out in the opshops for some.
Heuristic play basically just means play with everyday objects. It's great for letting your baby explore their natural environment and for learning about how things work. It supports their imagination - they can do WHATEVER THEY THINK OF with the bits and aren't limited - like with typical kids 'toys' where there's a purpose (this button makes this noise).
Yes babies need time to explore things on their own without distraction. And YES they need to lead the play. But that doesn't mean we just ignore them for the duration. Find moments to label what they're finding. Comment on what they're doing "I can see you shaking the tin!" And how things feel "the chain feels cold". You can name the colours, the texture, the noise, the volume and label their emotions "you look excited!"
Here's a look through the bag