Wednesday, January 14, 2009

DIY Baby Toys

I consider myself about a 6 out of 10 on the craftiness scale.  I am willing to try most types of crafts at least once, and I often pause before buying a handmade item, mentally considering if I could fashion one myself.  I would definitely be embarrassed to know how much money I have spent at JoAnn's.  The funny thing is that it seems like you should be able to save money by making things yourself; in reality, the cost of the supplies and the fact that I usually have to repeat a project several times to get it 'just right' means that the handmade object usually ends up costing triple the cost of the ready-made alternative.

These days, we are trying to live more simply, so I am cutting back on my craft projects and trying to use what I have.  I have a couple great DIY projects that won't send your craft store owner to Hawaii via your wallet.  None of them are my own - they have all been shared with me by wiser mamas - both the Nugget and I give them 2 thumbs up!  Do you have another easy, cheap project for toddlers?  Please leave it in the comments section!

Shaker Bottles - by friend K
1.  Wash out a disposable plastic water or pop bottle, and let air dry completely.  
2.  Fill the bottle about 1/3 full with odds and ends - buttons, sand, rice, glitter, confetti, pebbles, beads, colored water, whatever.  You can make a theme - like all one color, ducks in blue water, or just a crazy collection.
3.  Hot glue the cap back on.  

The Nugget has been using his shakers for a year, and older kids love them too.  Challenge big kids by filling a 2L bottle with sand and tiny items, then giving them a list of the items hidden in the sand.  Bring a timer and have sibs see who can find the most objects in 60 seconds for a great road trip game or restaurant distraction!

Sensory Tub - by friend C
1.  Find a plastic storage bin with tight-fitting lid.
2.  Fill the tub with a blend of any of the following:  dried peas, beans, lentils, sand, rice, oatmeal, pastas.  Save money by buying these out of bulk bins in the grocery store.
3.  Provide old bowls, cups, scoops, shovels, measuring spoons.
4.  Put down an old blanket or towel and let your kid sift and dig to heart's delight, like an indoor sandbox.  Keep the lid on when not in use, and change out the materials every few months to keep it interesting.

The Nugget only needs occasional reminders that it's "not for your mouth" and "keep it in the box", but it's a very calming activity for a stuck-inside-day.  I sit next to him and hold the tub steady, and I can never keep my fingers out of it either - it's very relaxing to run my fingers through it.


  1. I already stole your bottle idea and the kids love it. In fact they fight over the one I made so I better make another one. And the tub idea is really neat. I may have to try it too! Thanks!

  2. I LOVE DIY toys too, although agree that at times they can add up. But I do feel proud when the kids go for one of my creations over the "latest greatest" battery powered one. I will have to dig out my of DIY list from when I was running a day care. I'll make you a copy. One of our favorites was matching cards. I would print pictures of something that interested him (dinosaurs) laminate them with clear contact paper and he could match them up. They got harder as he got older and I changed them every few weeks. You could do baby and mommy animals, opposites, related items like hand:glove, hat:head, sock:foot... This one really was a money saver. hmm I think I will have to make some for Kat!

  3. Oh another good one color matching using paint samples. And this is FREE!! Just get 2 of each color start with the primaries and branch out from there. And for a more difficult version get different shades of the same color and have them arrange it from darkest to lightest.

  4. Thanks, Sarah! Love the ideas!