Expectant parents will often be inundated with loads of baby stuff. While it may be tempting to add lots of “entertainment items” to your registry, in reality, you don’t need all that much. Homemade toys for babies are the answer. When it comes to baby toys, most babies are perfectly content with a DIY version.
Good baby toys involve stimulating the senses and incorporate various textures, colors, or sounds. Thanks to the internet, there are limitless ideas and inspiration to get you started on making baby toys out of everyday household objects.
Sensory Bottles, also referred to as discovery bottles, are a simple concept with a great deal of versatility. At its core, it’s a clear bottle filled with liquid (typically water) with added elements. The elements can be anything: glitter, confetti, beads, small shapes, tiny figurines, and dice, just to name a few. Since this toy is for a baby, it’s important to make sure the top is secure (add a little bit of hot glue). That’s it.
You may be surprised at how long this can keep your baby’s attention. Watching the various items “swim” around is captivating for your little one. As a bonus, many toddlers and preschoolers find these types of bottles soothing. They can be useful as a tool to help them calm down when they get too stimulated or emotionally overwhelmed.
Busy boards are super fun for babies. They engage various senses while working on gross and fine motor skills (depending on which activities you include). A busy board is a large piece of sturdy material (like wood) that has various knick-knacks attached. Most boards have household items like light switches, bits of chain link, locks, ribbon, the plastic top to wipes containers, or squares of carpet or other material. The complexity of the busy board can be as simple or intricate as you would like and the possible combinations are endless. Most boards are relatively portable but they can also be securely attached to a wall, just make sure everything is within your baby’s reach. Choose items that don’t have breakable parts to ensure there are no choking hazards.
While there is no specific definition of a sensory center, it’s a variety of stimulating sensory items collected in one place. My favorite approach uses a hula hoop base with your choice of sensory elements added to it. Things like feathers, various types of fabric and material, ribbons, bubble wrap, and jingle bells are all elements you can attach. You can adhere most of these things by wrapping them around different sections of the hula hoop. Secure material with a glue gun and Voilà. I like this particular toy because it’s portable, relatively easy to store, and a great way to encourage tummy time.
Why not upcycle some of those plastic containers from your baby’s dry food? Containers for things like dry puffs, powdered rice cereal, or formula can all work (in addition to those wipes containers made out of plastic). You can add almost anything to an empty container to make it a toy — for example, strips of fabric are fun to pull out over and over. If you cut out a circle at the top, you can create a “drop the ball in the container” game. Certain containers make for excellent “drums.” Almost any container can become a toy with a little creativity.
If you have any plastic bottles of similar sizes, you can easily make your own baby bowling set. Feel free to decorate the bottles with paint on the interior (the more colorful, the better). You can add a little sand to the “pins” if they are having a difficult time staying up. Don’t put too much in though, or it will be hard to knock them over. This toy is more suited for an older baby as they need the ability to throw/roll a ball at the pins. If your baby is a little older, you can try arranging the bottles in various configurations and attempting to knock them down from different spots around the house. This toy can entertain babies, toddlers, and preschoolers alike.
Even if you aren’t feeling up to making something for your baby, that’s not a problem. Babies seem to find lots of ordinary household objects interesting. Cardboard boxes, pots, spoons, as long as it’s safe (i.e.,§ no small parts or chemicals) it’s fair game.