- DIY baby play gym: Make a stylish timber play gym for your baby
- Find more gorgeous nursery DIY projects here
- How to Create a Play Area for Your Baby
- Make a Floor Bed
- Hang Some Baby Art
- Hang A Horizontal Mirror
- Include a Baby Gym
- Soft Bins for Toys and Books
- How to Transition to a Montessori Toddler Play Space
- Create a Playroom for 3 to 5-Year-Olds
- The Shelter-in-Place Survival Plan for Parents
- Why play is important
- Different types of play
- How play develops with your child
- Newborns and babies: play ideas to encourage development
- Toddlers: play ideas to encourage development
- Preschoolers: play ideas to encourage development
- School-age children: play ideas to encourage development
- If your child doesn’t want to play
- 8 Cute DIY Baby Gyms To Develop Your Kid
- 17 homemade sensory development toys for babies
- Safety first
- Size of homemade baby toys
- Surface on homemade baby toys
- Supervision of babies with toys
- 1. Magic scarves
- 2. Homemade building blocks
- 3. Disappearing ball
- 4. Baby’s first board book
- 5. Homemade rattle
- 6. Milk formula tin drumkit
- 7. Wine cask mailbox
- 8. Homemade activity gym
- 9. Glitter bottle snow globe
- 10. Scrunchy sound socks
- 11. Bottle cap bracelet rattle
- 12. Homemade stacker cups
- 13. Texture fun
- 14. Click-click toys
- 15. Laundry basket racer
- 16. Homemade ‘walker’
- 17. Upcycled… anything!
DIY baby play gym: Make a stylish timber play gym for your baby
A DIY I’ve wanted to make for 2 years now is a timber baby play gym! I got the idea to make one when we made Patrick’s teepee clothing rack as I thought a miniature version would be ideal for hanging toys. Of course, I wasn’t the only one to get this thought and there are now dozens of tutorials to make similar play gyms.
But a dear friend of mine is about to have her second bub, and I’m making this play gym for her so thought while I was at it, I’d take photos along the way.
You can personalise this piece to suit your baby’s nursery, for example by adding some coloured silicone beads from your colour palette.
Related article: DIY nursery canopy with eucalyptus garland
Related article: Creating an epic outdoor play area for your child
This design was created using advice from Australian Toy Safety guidelines however it has not been tested for compliance. We recommend parents use their own judgement if this design is right for them and that babies are supervised at all times.
1. Cut the timber pieces in half and trim the ends on a 15 degree angle (this will make them sit flush against the floor and give the gym stability).
2. Stand two pieces of timber and cross them at the top, creating a teepee shape and use your pencil to mark where the timbers overlap.
3. Find the centre of the overlapped space and mark with a pencil. Pre-drill a hole with a regular drill bit and then use the spade drill bill to drill out your hole where the dowel will feed through.
4. Repeat this step on each piece of timber.
5. Optional: You could paint the timber pieces in white or a colour to tie into your nursery theme. Alternatively, you could use painters tape to create a clean edge and just paint the top tips of the planks. Or you could leave the gym completely natural.
6. Drill a small hole 25cm up from the base of each timber plank where you can feed your twine through to help give the gym extra stability (this will prevent it falling on baby!).
7. Construct your play gym by standing two pieces of timber at each end and feed your dowel through.
8. Feed twine between the two holes on the legs of each side of the play gym and tie a double knot to secure.
9. If your toys are on small timber hoops, you will need to add these before putting the end pieces on your gym. Alternatively, you could simply double twine over the dowel and feed beads on one by one. Finish with a double knot and leave 1cm excess twine to prevent it coming undone. Babies just love munching on the ribbon!
There you have my version of a stylish baby play gym. Will you attempt this DIY? Tell us how you’ve adapted it to suit your nursery!
Find more gorgeous nursery DIY projects here
This post was first published in August 2017 but has been updated with new information and images.
Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. This means, if you purchase an item we may receive a commission on that sale of the products at no extra cost to you.
How to Create a Play Area for Your Baby
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. See my Policies for details.
When my son was 7 months old we braved transatlantic travel and took him to my husband’s hometown in Sweden. My mother-in-law had borrowed cribs, one of those European prams (I loved walking around a true European with a pram!), a car seat, high chair — everything we could possibly need.
She also set up a play area for my son in their living room. It was a foam mattress topper — think thin mattress — covered with a cozy wool blanket and toys in baskets.
The great thing about this play area was that the adults spent more time down on baby’s level — laying down reading books, playing airplane, looking at toys together, and just hanging out. It became the gathering space for the whole family.
But also, my 7-month-old son could entertain himself in this cozy space– just staring up at the Christmas tree, “reading” books, and exploring the objects on the bed.
I loved it and decided I needed to replicate it at home.
It turns out that this idea is similar to Montessori play spaces for baby, the main feature of which is a floor bed, which is a place for baby to nap or play.
Maria Montessori believed in providing the tools and environment that encourages children, and yes even babies, to explore independently.
It is also a hallmark of attachment theory — the securely attached baby will desire to explore their environment — independently — knowing their attachment figure is nearby and will respond to true cries when needed.
our current playroom, this playspace is designed to grow with your child. This space grew with him until he was almost 3. Then we moved and components of this space became the basis of his playroom in our new house.
Make a Floor Bed
This is the most important component of the baby play area. Having a floor bed makes it easy to get down on the baby’s level and becomes a gathering place for the family to hang out.
I’ve mentioned this before, but one thing child psychologists to say is “The best toy for your baby is you.”
There is so much research on how talking to your baby and playing with your baby is the best thing for their development.
The floor bed is a great place to hang out, read books, let your baby crawl over you, practice tummy time and just be.
Also, it creates a designated area for baby to hang out and explore independently.
For the floor bed, we used a full-sized mattress topper from Ikea that we already had. Then I surrounded the mattress with body pillows so my son could move around without rolling into a wall.
Important: If you plan to use this as a place for baby to nap or if you have a baby who can not yet turn over, you might want to skip the pillows — as they can be a suffocation hazard. My son never napped in his play space, for him it was a space for active play. As always, which this space can encourage independent play, it is not meant for unsupervised play.
As an alternative to a mattress topper or bed, you could do non-toxic play tiles with no bedding.
TANANGER (IKEA)CertiPUR-US Memory Foam MattressBaby Play Mat TilesBaby Play Mat with Edges
Hang Some Baby Art
For a younger baby, I recommend high-contrast art (black, white, and red patterns).
If you have a toddler, some cute ABC cards would be a fun addition.
The visual system is the last sensory system to develop in babies and is the most immature at birth. Black and white patterns will capture baby’s attention and also stimulate their visual system.
I really this book which features real art that happens to be high-contrast. I often set this book up and placed my son on his tummy to look at it. Included in this book are high-quality posters of the images in the book.
Be sure you hang them low so that if your baby was on their tummy they would be able to see the pictures.
Ta-Da! Baby art installation!
Wee Gallery Art Cards for BabyArt for BabyAlphabet Wall Art CardsScience ABC Art Cards
Hang A Horizontal Mirror
Looking in a mirror is so entertaining for a baby!
Research shows that babies don’t reliably recognize themselves in the mirror until they are about 15–months-old!
This is another great tummy time activity. Babies love looking at human faces more than anything else, which is necessary for them to learn about emotions and social cues.
Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Double-Feature MirrorLarge Double Sided Infant Crib MirrorInfant Coordination MirrorAcrylic Mirror Sheet
Include a Baby Gym
Jean Piaget, a well know child psychologist, described the first stage of cognitive development as the “Sensorimotor” period.
During this time, babies experience the world through movement and their senses. They move through the world taking it all in through their senses in a haphazard, almost accidental, way. And as they grow, they began to realize that their movements cause interesting reactions.
This is how babies learn. Piaget called this process “circular reactions.”
I remember the first time my son finally grabbed one of the objects on his baby gym (see the video above).
At first, he just waved his arms and kicked excitedly when laying under his gym.
Over time, he noticed that when he waved his hands they would touch the objects and make them move.
After doing this accidently a few times, he started to try to coordinate his movement to touch the object.
This is an amazing step for a baby!
Circular reactions develop and become more coordinated across the first year life.
The Play GymWood Play GymBaby Infant and Toddler Activity Gym
Soft Bins for Toys and Books
When your baby is a little older and is sitting up on her own, she will love to take things in and baskets and bins.
This is quite entertaining.
For your play area have a few soft bins these with your favorite baby toys and lots of books. Reading is one of the best things you can do for your baby’s cognitive development other than face-to-face talk and play with you.
The other great thing is that these will work perfectly when your child is older to create all of those lovely Montessori invitations to play, toys animals in one bin and animal cards in the other. The invitation is for your toddler to match the items.
Cotton Rope Storage Basket
How to Transition to a Montessori Toddler Play Space
When my son was about 18-months old we expanded his play space. We added a fabric bookshelf, and two Ikea TROFAST toy storage units, one tall one and one wide one.
The TROFAST units have since graduated to become part of a desk/play area in our playroom. I also added a colorful and fun rug to expand the play area for our growing boy.
The bookshelf and the toy storage units were both toddler-friendly and easy for him to choose books he wanted and find toys.
Having child-friendly and accessible furniture can help to foster greater independent play, which is a big milestone for toddlers.
Wildkin Sling BookshelfMilliard Car Rug Road Play MatMelissa & Doug Round the Town Road Rug
The great thing about this play area for your baby and toddler is that it will both function to provide a place for you and your family to interact together, but also as a place for fostering some independent play.
Even babies can entertain themselves in the right environment!
Create a Playroom for 3 to 5-Year-Olds
The Shelter-in-Place Survival Plan for Parents
New York may be on pause, but, as parents know, little kids have no such button. With city families confined in close quarters and with no release date in sight, the idea of trying to achieve any kind of work-life balance, much less an optimal one, just seems quaint.
But desperation leads to innovation (and sometimes a little Xbox). We asked two dozen NYC parents for the tricks they’ve found most useful for allowing kids to learn and be entertained while grown-ups get a little work done — or finally have time to shower.
Here are our favorite suggestions.
Stewart and her son Adric, 7, in Bayside, Queens, love checking NASA’s site for a livestream from the ISS. You can also learn how astronauts cook in space and get a bathroom tour on the European Space Agency’s Channel. (Adric recommends paying special attention to the astronauts’ weightless hair.)
Livestreams at zoos and aquariums give animal fans of all ages a quick pick-me-up. Shima and her daughter Rhys, 10, in Morris Heights in the Bronx, enjoy the creature-filled open-sea cam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium — especially during feeding time.
Kate of Forest Hills, Queens, says her kids, Marley, 7, and Adeline, 10, enjoy the Instagram videos of the Shedd Aquarium penguins, who’ve been allowed to waddle amok outside of their enclosure.
And Erin of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, says her son Abram, 6, is so into the Cincinnati Zoo’s Live events that “he started jotting down notes that he shares during our closing circle at the end of the day.”
Un most museum’s virtual tours, which simply let you look at art, La Casa Azul gives you access to every part of the building. And more. Melissa of Washington Heights, Manhattan, says her kids, Lila, 7, and Sebastian, 5, ask, “‘Can anyone see us there?!’ They feel they’re sneaking around the house.” They can even explore the garden and surrounding Ciudad de México streets.
those Brooklyn families who created a rainbow trail, Stewart and Adric use art to uplift their neighborhood by taping each day’s creations to their front door. “I to think people walking their dog and looking over and saying, ‘Look at that door!’ and smiling,” Adric says. “’Cause some people are not so happy, but the door could make them happy.”
They won’t miss restricted outdoor playgrounds when they have one inside. Two families raved about Gym1’s Deluxe Indoor Playground, affectionately known as the Gorilla Gym.
“It hangs in a doorway and has a swing, rope climb, rings and other attachments that keep an active guy moving!” Stewart says. Allison of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, mom to Max, 9, agrees.
“We live in an apartment, so we have to do physical stuff that doesn’t drive the downstairs neighbors crazy.”
Gym1 Deluxe Indoor Playground
Three different parents (with six kids among them, ageS 5 to 11), gushed about the classic open-ended building toy and the creativity it inspired. “They keep proving themselves as indispensable,” says Lauren of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, mom to twins Pia and Maewyn, 6.
A lot of parents of young kids might still be taking music and other classes online, but Erin of Astoria, Queens, has a fun way to keep her son, Xavier, 1, engaged: Instead of keeping the video of the instructor pinned to the screen, they rotate among the other families during class. “He loves seeing the other babies in the Zoom windows,” she says.
Hope of Sunset Park, Brooklyn and her son Dash, 8, had stored up a trove of make-your-own kits. One of their favorites is the PinBox 3000 DIY cardboard pinball machine.
“You can customize the pinball board and add your own little obstacles and such,” Hope says. “It was just the right amount of challenge for an 8-year old.
He actually got impatient and finished it without me. And it works, really well!”
Two lessons in one, and all fun: Darren of Chelsea, Manhattan, says his husband mixes cooking and computations for their daughter Melina, 10, having her pick recipes and prepare the measurements for a smaller serving size. “Just a little math and we all had lemon bars!”
Five families with kids ages 6 to 10 count the award-winning children’s author-illustrator’s 1 p.m. doodle tutorials as a must-watch livestream. Jody of Harlem, Manhattan, says the sessions are fun for her 6-year-old, Polly, and “oddly soothing for me. He brings a very Mister Rogers quality to it,” and the sessions are perfectly timed to allow parents to prepare lunch in peace.
Rachel of Forest Hills, Queens, is revisiting her youth by showing her daughter Aimee, 2, and Sabrina, 6 “very old episodes” of Reading Rainbow. “You can watch them on . Our absolute fave is when LeVar Burton visits the crayon factory!”
Mary of Woodside, Queens, says she’s cleared space in her kitchen so her sons Colin, 6 and Thomas, 8 can play soccer with a squishy ball. “We call it La Liga Cocina — The Kitchen League.
” Meanwhile, Ken on the Upper West Side plays “slow-motion indoor football” with his son Jacob, 7. Things are even more unusual at Joanna’s home in Sunnyside, Queens, where her daughter Imogen, 8, and her stepdad have been doing “Ninja Training.
It’s basically Fight Club if it had been about an 8-year-old girl trying to beat up a 46-year-old man,” Joanna says.
Sure, there are seemingly an infinite number of online courses, but who better to teach the tykes life skills than Mom or Dad? Maureen of Flatbush, Brooklyn, hosts “Tool Time With Mama” for her twins, Ivy and Abe, 8. “Yesterday’s tools were Google docs and Google slides. The day before the tool was a hammer.”
Timing is everything — especially to little kids. “Odysseus loves to be timed!” says Dawn of Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, about her 7-year old. “He runs from the kitchen to his bedroom and back, and we time him.
He runs to get his PJs, we time him.” Shima (in Morris Heights) has turned running up and down the stairs in her townhouse into a competition with Rhys.
“We time each other to see who can do ten sets the fastest! Great cardio and great motivation.”
Remember how much fun we had during the year of Cards Against Humanity? Joanna (in Sunnyside) introduced a more appropriate version to Imogen called “Kids Against Maturity.” Expect “lots of fart jokes,” Joanna says. “It’s been great for taking breaks (and having a few giggles) throughout the day when I don’t have long stretches of time to interact.”
Kids Against Maturity Actually good deals, smart shopping advice, and exclusive discounts. By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
“,”author”:null,”date_published”:”2020-03-27T20:08:33.904Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://pyxis.nymag.com/v1/imgs/db1/7c5/9d7d4df7700d5c2ffacd17258155ee0b0a-27-parent-schedule.1x.rsocial.w1200.jpg”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://nymag.com/strategist/2020/03/things-to-do-with-kids-while-quarantined.html”,”domain”:”nymag.com”,”excerpt”:”The livestreams, indoor jungle gyms, kitchen soccer tournaments, and stopwatch games that will keep them (and you) occupied and happy.”,”word_count”:1182,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Why play is important
Play is central to your child’s learning and development. When your child plays, it gives her lots of different ways and times to learn.
Play also helps your child:
- build confidence
- feel loved, happy and safe
- develop social skills, language and communication
- learn about caring for others and the environment
- develop physical skills.
Your child will love playing with you, but sometimes she might prefer to play by herself. She might just want you to give her ideas and let her know how her play and games are going. And sometimes she might want to play with other children – no grown-ups allowed!
Different types of play
Unstructured, free play is the best type of play for young children.
This is play that just happens, depending on what takes your child’s interest at the time. Free play isn’t planned and lets your child use his imagination and move at his own pace.
Examples of unstructured play might be:
- creative play alone or with others, including artistic or musical games
- imaginative games – for example, making cubby houses with boxes or blankets, dressing up or playing make-believe
- exploring new or favourite play spaces cupboards, backyards, parks, playgrounds and so on.
You can be part of your child’s unstructured play – or not. Sometimes all you’ll need to do is point your child in the right direction – towards the jumble of dress-ups and toys on her floor, or to the table with crayons and paper. Sometimes you might need to be a bit more active. For example, ‘How about we play dress-ups? What do you want to be today?’
Structured play is different. It’s more organised and happens at a fixed time or in a set space. It’s often led by a grown-up.
Examples of structured play include:
- water familiarisation classes for toddlers, or swimming lessons for older children
- storytelling groups for toddlers and preschoolers at the local library
- dance, music or drama classes for children of all ages
- family board or card games
- modified sports for slightly older children, Cricket Blast, Aussie Hoops basketball, NetSetGO netball, Come and Try Rugby, and Auskick football.
Structured and unstructured play can happen indoors or outdoors. Outdoor play gives your child the chance to explore, be active, test physical limits – and get messy!
How play develops with your child
As your child grows, the way he plays will change – he’ll get more creative and experiment more with toys, games and ideas. This might mean he needs more space and time to play.
Also, children move through different forms of play as they grow. This includes playing alone, playing alongside other children and playing interactively with other children.
Newborns and babies: play ideas to encourage development
For babies, the best toy is you. Just looking at your face and hearing your voice is play for your new baby, especially if you’re smiling.
You might to try the following play ideas and activities with your little one:
- Music, songs, gentle tapping on your baby’s tummy while you sing, or bells: these activities develop hearing and movement.
- Peekaboo: this is great for your baby’s social and emotional development.
- Gentle tickles, or objects with different textures, feathers, mud, metal or foam: these develop the sense of touch.
- Objects of different sizes, colours and shapes: these can encourage your child to reach and grasp.
- Sturdy furniture, balls, toys or boxes: these can get your child crawling, standing and walking.
Regular tummy time and floor play are very important. Tummy time helps your baby develop muscle strength and control. It also lets your baby see and experience the world from a different perspective.
Toddlers: play ideas to encourage development
Here are some ideas your toddler might enjoy:
- Big and light things cardboard boxes, buckets or blow-up balls can encourage your child to run, build, push or drag.
- Chalk, rope, music or containers can encourage jumping, kicking, stomping, stepping and running.
- Hoops, boxes, large rocks or pillows are good for climbing on, balancing, twisting, swaying or rolling.
- Dress-up games with scarves, hats and so on are good for imagination and creativity.
- Hills, tunnels or nooks can encourage physical activities crawling and exploring.
If you put on some favourite music while your toddler plays, she can also experiment with different sounds and rhythms. You might also to sing, dance and clap along to music with your child.
Preschoolers: play ideas to encourage development
Here are some ideas to get your preschooler’s mind and body going:
- Old milk containers, wooden spoons, empty pot plant containers, sticks, scrunched-up paper, plastic buckets, saucepans and old clothes are great for imaginative, unstructured play.
- Simple jigsaw puzzles and matching games animal dominoes help improve your child’s memory and concentration.
- Playdough and clay help your child develop fine motor skills.
- Favourite music or pots and pans are great for a dance concert or to make up music.
- Balls can encourage kicking, throwing or rolling.
When you’re encouraging your child to kick or throw, try to get him to use one side of his body, then the other.
School-age children: play ideas to encourage development
Your school-age child can have fun with the following objects and activities:
- Furniture, linen, washing baskets, tents and boxes are great for building cubbyhouses.
- Home-made obstacle courses can get your child moving in different ways, directions and speeds.
- Games ‘I spy’ are great for word play and help develop literacy skills.
- Simple cooking and food preparation activities are great for developing numeracy and everyday skills.
- Your child’s own imagination: with imagination, your child can turn herself into a favourite superhero or story character.
If your child is interested, you could think about getting him into some sports or team activities for school-age children. Other possibilities include after-school or holiday art and craft activities.
You don’t have to spend lots of money on toys, games and books for children. Homemade toys and free activities are often the most creative ways for you and your child to have fun together.
If your child doesn’t want to play
There might be times when your child doesn’t want to play – for example, he could be tired or bored by doing the same activity for too long. This is normal and usually nothing to worry about.
But sometimes a lack of play – or a lack of interest in play – can be a sign of a developmental disorder.
Consider speaking with a health professional or your child’s educator if:
- your baby doesn’t seem to get into interactive play peekaboo
- your toddler has only a narrow interest in toys, or doesn’t use toys in a functional way – for example, is only interested in spinning the wheels of a toy car instead of driving it around the room other children the same age
- your preschooler isn’t interested in playing with other children, or isn’t interested in playing pretend games.
8 Cute DIY Baby Gyms To Develop Your Kid
What every parent needs is something fun for your baby to use that doesn’t take much set up and allows your baby to move and work on their development skills. The solution to this problem just may be a baby gym!
A baby gym has a number of advantages: when your baby kicks and reaches for toys they are giving themselves a great core workout. Crossing midline is an important aspect in development in that it helps develop the ability for the left side of the brain to talk to the right side of the brain.
Colors, textures and sounds stimulate senses. While in the baby gym your baby bats at toys working on his/her eye hand coordination. A baby gym can be used from day 1 if you want and it does all the best for your kid! Unfortunately, baby gyms are rather expensive, but they are pretty easy to make yourself.
Need some ideas? Let’s take a look at them below!
After seeing baby gym after baby gym with plastic this and fuzzy that, this wooden minimalistic version is a welcome change! If you’ve got a baby on the way, or just want to make this as a gift for a loved one, try your hand at this surprisingly simple project! The good thing about this project is that the pieces are made of wood, which is all-natural and doesn’t contain any chemicals, and the design of the resulting piece will easily fit a contemporary or Scandinavian space.
DIY contemproary wooden baby gym with beads (via themerrythought.com)
Here’s a beautiful and colorful baby gym. Un most baby gear and toys—which are often plastic (or feature a jarring color palette)—this one is beautiful; it’s something you wouldn’t mind leaving out when people come to visit (almost an art piece).
Even better, it’s completely customizable, which means you can tailor it to coordinate with your nursery or your living room. This project is surprisingly easy—painting all the beads took up the most amount of time.
Even though the finished product is still very bright and colorful, the color palette is pretty—a welcome change from most of the baby gyms on the market.
DIY wooden baby gym with colorful geometric beads (via diy.dunnlumber.com)
We totally love IKEA hacks, and this baby gym is one of them.
The author of the tutorial renovated IKEA Leka baby gym and also bought an IKEA Himmelsk mobile to incorporate into the gym – these cute little toys are perfect to catch and eye.
Read the tutorial and find out how to hack these two IKEA pieces with style and make your kid happy.
DIY IKEA Leka And Himmelsk hack into a cool baby gym (via almostmakesperfect.com)
This is a super dreamy baby gym with a sun and a rainbow cloud that your baby will love! I enjoy the bright colors and various textures incorporated, which means that your baby will have more senses on and more interest in the gym. Get inspired, use a free sewing pattern and make this beautiful gym!
DIY bright and fun baby gym with a rainbow cloud (via www.craftaholicsanonymous.net)
This amazing baby gym is a cool hack of an existing piece with ugly plastic toys. The author gave a makeover to the gym and removed the toys and substituted them for colorful felt balls that are all-natural and can’t harm your baby. this idea? Read the tutorial and get how to renovate your gym this way.
DIY wooden baby gym hack with colorufl felt beads (via stripesandwhimsy.com)
This project is about how to turn an Ikea baby gym into a fun and colorful piece that will be stimulating for your little one. This DIY colorful baby gym tutorial is a quick one and can be adapted to reflect your personal style. I love the bold tropical motifs – pineapples – on the gym, it feels so summery!
DIY bright pineapple baby gym (via fusionmineralpaint.com)
What I love about this little baby gym is its natural materials and a stylish neutral look that will be a nice addition to any contemporary interior. I also tiny crochet fishes hanging down, they are super cute! If you love this idea, read the tutorial and make this gym!
DY neutral and natural baby gym with crochet fish and wooden beads (via www.atilio.se)
I love this pretty colorful baby gym! This piece shows off several bright toys – a flower, a rainbow, a sun, a heart, all of them are soft and super cute! Of course, you may go for your own toys that you and that fit the décor theme of your nursery, get inspired.
DIY baby gym with colorful sewn toys (via sarahhearts.com)
17 homemade sensory development toys for babies
Buying toys for your baby can be expensive, and sometimes they don’t last that long! We all want to encourage creative play in our little ones. Before you fork out for expensive development toys, check out our 17 homemade sensory development toys for babies using things around your home.
Your child really doesn’t care about brand names or labels. In fact, they don’t even know what a ‘toy’ is. They really just want something bright and noisy to play and engage with, and begin developing their senses through creative play. All of the toys below will help your baby to develop their senses through sensory experience.
There are plenty of household items that make great toys for baby, and with a little bit of imagination you can turn everyday things into toys with a twist.
In fact, you may just find that baby keeps going back to your colourful wrapped tissue box; bypassing all those ‘development’ toys along the way!
When making your own toys, it’s important to keep safety in the front of your mind. A good checklist to follow is:
Size of homemade baby toys
A general rule is the smaller the child, the bigger the toy. If the toy can fit into a film canister, or it has removable parts that can, then it is not suitable for children under 3 years of age.
Surface on homemade baby toys
Babies put everything in their mouths and can be easily poisoned if a toy is made from, or coated in, a toxic material. Check out paint and adhesive labels before use. You should also make sure the surface is smooth, with no sharp edges or corners.
Make sure any strings or ribbons are not long enough to get wrapped around baby and cut off baby’s circulation. Also make sure they are firmly attached to the toy.
Supervision of babies with toys
Did we mention babies put everything in their mouths? It’s important to remember any homemade toy can potentially cause choking – no matter how well you’ve made it. If anyone can pull it apart, your baby can! Keep an eye on baby at all times.
So with all those safety points in mind, here are some great ideas for turning everyday items into fabulous toys.
1. Magic scarves
Cut a cup sized hole into the lid of an ice cream container and then tape around it to soften any sharp edges. Fill the container with lots of different coloured scarves, ribbons, or long pieces of material, and watch baby have lots of fun pulling them out, then stuffing them back in.
2. Homemade building blocks
Small boxes those used for tea bags, tissues and cereal, make great building blocks for baby. Stuff the boxes with newspaper to make them sturdy, and then wrap them in brightly coloured book covering. Because the book covering is 100% adhesive, there are no bits of tape or paper that can come off and cause choking.
3. Disappearing ball
Cut a cup sized hole, half way along a postage tube and find 2 or 3 brightly coloured rubber balls. When baby drops the ball through the hole it disappears, but when they pick up the tube to find it, the ball rolls out one end. Babies from 9 months on will be fascinated by how this works.
4. Baby’s first board book
Make your own board books for baby by cutting out pictures from magazines and gluing them onto sturdy card. Cover each page with clear book covering and then tape them together to form an accordion. You could also print out photos of your family and pets, or places around your home, to really personalise the book.
5. Homemade rattle
Put a handful of stones, rice or pasta into a small Pringles tin and tape the lid firmly shut with packaging tape to make a great rattle. Make sure the tape is pressed flat onto the can, so that baby can’t pull off small pieces. Small Milo, baking powder or Quik tins are also a good size for baby to hold. But if you use a Pringles tin, then you get to eat the chips first!
6. Milk formula tin drumkit
An empty milk formula tin, or large milo tin, or similar and a wooden spoon make a great drum kit! And we know just how much you love noisy toys…
7. Wine cask mailbox
Wine casks are sturdy boxes which make great ‘posting’ toys. Cut several different shapes one side of the box, some that are bigger than others. Cover the box in brightly coloured book covering, and give baby some small toys to post. They will soon discover that some items fit through the holes, while others are too big or the wrong shape.
8. Homemade activity gym
Make your own activity gym by tying a selection of small toys to a broom stick or long pole and resting it between 2 chairs. Make sure the stick is well secured so that it can’t roll off and land on baby.
9. Glitter bottle snow globe
¾ fill a small water bottle or plastic jar with water and add 2-3 handfuls of glitter. Glue the lid shut and let baby tip it backwards and forwards. When they start crawling they will love chasing it across the room.
10. Scrunchy sound socks
Stuff a sock with crinkly wrapping paper and tie a knot in the end. Baby can safely scrunch the sock and be rewarded with great sounds. This is a great way to upcycle those lost left socks!
11. Bottle cap bracelet rattle
Punch a hole through the centre of several plastic milk bottle caps and then string them together on a piece of elastic to form a bracelet. This makes a great rattle which is light and easy for baby to grasp on to.
12. Homemade stacker cups
Collect plastic lids from various containers to make your own set of stacking cups. Hairspray, shaving foam, cooking oil, and dairy whip all have good size lids. Make sure you wash them well before use.
13. Texture fun
Make great textured blocks by gluing different fabrics and materials onto wooden blocks. Exploring different textures is a great way for baby to begin developing their touch sense, one of the key development milestones.
14. Click-click toys
Old keyboards or calculators are great fun for babies to tap on, especially as they are rewarded with the ‘click click click’ sound. Make sure there are no loose buttons or keys. This is another great toy for developing touch and dexterity.
15. Laundry basket racer
Laundry baskets (or large cardboard boxes) make great cars for baby to sit in. It takes some effort for you to push them around the house, but their giggles will make it worth your while.
16. Homemade ‘walker’
A large cardboard box weighted down with toys and books is a great way to help baby with ‘cruising’ (walking around while leaning on furniture or being lead by the hand). It needs to be light enough so that it moves when baby pushes against it, but not so light that it takes off from under them.
17. Upcycled… anything!
Remember, babies find fun in just about everything. Boxes, tubes, containers, cups, spoons, wrapping paper – you name it. It doesn’t have to be an ‘official toy’ to provide entertainment – the whole world is one big playground. Open up your plastics cupboard and raid the recycling, you’ll be surprised with just what you come up with. Have fun!
For more information on toys that are suitable for the different stages of babyhood, check out Baby Toys, or check out our Toys section for some great new ideas.