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Sunday, November 17, 2013

DIY Baby Toys

We've got our fair share of Melissa & Doug gems for Calvin to play with, but to mix things up, I sometimes set him up with some homemade toys made from "upcycled" items and some things from the craft store. First I made him some very fancy looking sensory bottles and shakers. Then I got some inspiration from other "mommy bloggers" via Pinterest. Here are a few other DIY "toys" we've tried out:

Tissue box + Handkerchiefs

I set him up with this when he was around 9 months old. I just saved an empty tissue box and put a couple of handkerchiefs in it that he could pull out and stuff in over and over again (instead of pulling out all the real tissues and throwing them all over the place). 

Can with plastic lid + Milk jug lids

I made this one around the same time, but introduced it after the tissue box. I felt like this was a next step in terms of motor skills. This is an Almond Roca can, but there are lots of foods that come in similar cans (like coffee and oatmeal). I cut an X shape into the plastic lid with a knife. I was worried about the pointy corners left on each triangle flap scratching Calvin's hand so I actually took a nail file and rounded them! Then I realized I could have just used scissors to round the points. I put the milk jug lids inside and voila - a toy that makes nice rattle-y noises and has little things to grab and pull out or grab and push in! It took him a while to figure out how to get them out the first time around, but once he got it he started putting other small toys in and pulling them out too. 

Can with plastic lid + Ribbons

Same can with ribbons instead of milk lids. So many things you can push in and pull out of this can! Hours of entertainment. Ok not hours, his attention span is not that big! Minutes. Minutes of entertainment :) 

Paper towel tube + Milk jug lids

Calvin is about 15 months old here. I set this up, modeled dropping a lid down the tube, and let him at it. He grabbed the tube and ripped it off the wall. Ok. More tape. I set it up again with more tape, and it bought me 10 minutes to wash the dishes. Win. Usually I don't bother taping up the tube anymore, and he can just sit and hold the tube and drop things through it. Besides milk lids, he also does this activity with other little objects like cotton balls or blocks.

Puff Balls + Cups

Another month or two later. Those little "cups" are actually lids from Henry's Avent bottles and the puff balls came from the craft store, but Calvin could easily do the same with small cups and cotton balls. He loves those little puff balls, though. Fun and colorful and fuzzy :)

Cotton Balls + Container

That container was the packaging from some pacifiers I bought for Henry. Just like the puff balls, he likes to stuff the cotton balls into containers (ice cube tray, tupperware, cups) or spread them around the room! But this particular container makes a nice toy because it latches closed which adds a little work for him to do to open and shut it.

Contact Paper + Small Objects

Sorry for the mega-glare on this picture! I taped a piece of contact paper sticky-side out on the side of our bookshelf and gave Calvin some small things to stick to it: puff balls, little plastic jewels, and cardboard die-cuts from my scrapbooking supplies (other ideas: pieces of pipe cleaner, paper clips, paper shapes, cheerios). The first time we did this he was so funny about the contact paper. He just wanted to stick his hand to it and pull it off over and over again and finally he pulled it down entirely and was just playing with the wadded up contact paper! This time he was fascinated by the tiny jewels and I could really see him working hard with those fine motor skills to pick them up, stick them on, and take them off. He also figured out that he could roll the puff balls slowly down the sticky paper. So many fun things to do with sticky paper!

All of these are great for motor skills and hand-eye coordination. I have some other brilliant ideas I want to try out as he gets older, so I'm sure I'll do a follow-up post in the future :)

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