How To

10 Baby Toys You Can Make Yourself

10 Baby Toys You Can Make

Babies need entertainment – lots and lots of it. Sure, you can run to a big box store and unload hundreds of dollars on toys, but if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re a savvy consumer who likes to save money.

These days, making your own baby toys is a bit of a rarity, but this time-old tradition has huge money saving potential.

Here are 10 toys you can make, many of which my own daughter has enjoyed.

Note: Some of these toys require a hot glue gun, which is incredibly cheap! Run out and pick up a single-heat setting model for about $3. Glue sticks will run you another few bucks. If you have any interest in making things yourself, a glue gun is a must.

Infant

Tracking stick: Grab a popsicle stick or wooden spoon, construction paper, and your hot glue gun. Cut out a simple shape, like a triangle or star, from red or black paper. Babies respond to bold colors early on.

Affix paper to the stick or spoon. Wave it slowly in front of your child’s face to help their eyes learn to track items in tandem.

Note: This has not been proven as an effective way to hypnotize your child into a nap.

Baby

Glitter water: Save an empty plastic water bottle from the recycling and collect any glitter, buttons, pennies, dice, fuzz balls, marbles, or other small tokens you have around the house. Stuff them into the water bottle and fill it two-thirds of the way.

Using hot glue or super glue, affix the cap so it won’t ever come off. Babies love to shake items that make noise and are attracted to the bright, moving shapes.

Silly spoons: Open your kitchen drawer. Pull out a set of measuring spoons on a ring. Give to baby. Go take a shower. Hurry.

Pre-Toddler

Homemade drum: Find an empty cardboard box, string, and two wooden spoons. Make two very small holes on opposite sides of the box using a metal skewer or sharp pointy item. Make the holes near the side that will be the top.

Cut two pieces of string each about eight inches long. Thread them through the holes and tie a knot on the inside of the box so when pulled, the string will not come free. Tape the box closed, and then tie a spoon to each piece of string.

Let the banging begin! (Earplugs not included.)

Peekaboo on a stick: Gather a popsicle stick, your hot glue gun, and anything that could stand in for a mask. Cutouts from a magazine, flat Halloween decorations, old photos, paper you’ve drawn on, etc.

Trim the mask so it has smooth edges and resembles the shape of a face. Glue to the popsicle stick. In your most animated voice, chirp, “Where’s baby? There she is!” Repeat as needed.

Bowl ‘o fun: Grab a large plastic or metal mixing bowl and fill it with miscellaneous items. The remote control, small toys, child-appropriate kitchen tools, plastic cups, a bouncy ball, stuffed animals, measuring cups, rattles…I could go on and on.

Place the bowl in front of the child, who will delight in unloading and inspecting each item. The trick is to make it a game to fill the bowl back up afterwards!

Toddler

Push toys: To encourage your child to move about, give them toys that they can use for balance or that make fun noises when they pull them. Find a square box that stands about two-thirds of the height of your child. Fill it with a small blanket, old pillow, and just enough newspaper to give it some heft.

You want the box to be light enough that the child can move it, but heavy enough so it it won’t slide faster than she can push it. Once you find the right weight, tape the box shut. Decorate with bright colors and affix an interesting toy to the top of the box so the child is drawn to it.

Make sure to use a square box for stability. New walkers fall enough as it is.

Pull toys: Keep an empty oatmeal cylinder or coffee can and make two holes — one in the bottom of the can and one in the lid. Thread one piece of thick string that measures about two feet through both holes.

Tie a knot and feed the string through the container so the knot is on the inside of the container. Place a handful of coins, bells, or other items that make a loud sound when shaken, inside the container. Affix the lid with the hot glue gun.

Hand the string loop to your child and interact with them as they pull the toy around the room. By now, you should be a master at pretending to enjoy these kinds of toys.

School-Aged

Build-a-widget: You’ll need colorful straws, paper cups, pipe cleaners, and a large knitting knife, or other item that can make small holes in paper cups. Make a few random holes in the paper cups to get the kiddos started. If they ask for more holes, make ‘em!

You’ll be surprised how many different ways they insert the pipe cleaners and straws. What wonderful widgets!

Tinker toys: For a more sturdy and complex version of Build-A-Widget, start saving empty toilet paper rolls. With a hole punch, make two to five holes in each roll at different spots and heights.

Gather as many unsharpened pencils as you can. (Older children may be safe to build with pointy pencils.) Supervise as your child builds a fantastic structure.

Julia Scott founded the blog, BargainBabe.com, now with free stuff and coupons.