Home Made Toys for Babes

Isn't it amazing that no matter how many fancy toys you buy or are given for your baby, they always prefer the box it came in, or something they find lying around the house?

My eldest son showed this theory to be true. He was given many teddy bears when he was born - big ones, little ones, cute furry ones, some really expensive looking and one really big one, but he preferred, and still does, a plain-looking knitted teddy that someone made for him as a gift. It is quite cute, but definitely doesn't have the style of any of the others.

If you've got some time on your hands, would like to save money and enjoy making crafty things, have a look at these ideas:


Using a clean and empty soft drink bottle, clear plastic is best, fill with any of the following items: chopped up pieces of kitchen sponge, some marbles or clean pebbles, glitter and tiny pieces of cut up Christmas tinfoil. Then fill up the bottle with clean water and either glue or cellotape the lid on tightly. These can be rolled around the floor or just shaken by a baby to produce a lovely effect.


A little handful of rice or pebbles inside a small clear plastic bottle or a container will make a nice gentle rattle. Secure the lid on tightly and remove from baby once they are capable of taking lids off, or have grown out of it to prevent accidental choking on the small pieces inside.


A quick way to make a hand or foot rattle for a baby under 6 months old is to stitch a small existing rattle onto a bootie or mitten. Then place onto the baby to produce a rattle when they move their hand or foot.


If you have some left-over scraps of material, particularly in different textures, sew together to make a little ball and stuff with more scraps, and if you like insert a small bell inside before stitching up well.


Very first books for a baby can be made in a concertina formation. Using a sheet of cardboard cut to a size that is easy to handle. Fold into three or four equal sections and decorate each section with either bright colours drawn using felt tips, or use cut out pictures from a magazine and stick onto the cardboard before covering with clear plastic such as cover-seal. Since a baby sees black and white clearly as a newborn, you can draw some bold patterns and shapes using a thick black pen, onto the sections of the book, instead of using colour, as another variation.


To make one of these, simply insert some shiny crinkly wrapping paper into an old stocking or pantyhose, and tie at each end. You can make short ones, or long ones that can be tied to a pram or mobile gym for entertainment.


First you'll need to start saving plastic lids from milk bottle tops, soft drink bottles, jam jar lids, etc and then by punching a little hole into the top of each with a knife or sharp pair of scissors, thread onto a piece of cord, ribbon or thick string, in an interesting formation to create a chain of lids that rattle and can be chewed.


Using a wire or wooden coat hanger, decorate with pieces of Christmas tinsel, strips of fabric, small teddy bears, teething toys, rattles, shells, cut-out pieces of cardboard in fish or tree shapes that are brightly coloured, ribbons, strips of crepe paper, clothes pegs and anything else you can find to make an interesting mobile, to hang over baby's cot safely out of reach.


A thick piece of smooth wood, i.e. a broom handle can be made into a play gym that can be placed over the top of two chairs securely or hung somewhere for baby to play with. Attach things that are safe to be chewed and touched, by short pieces of strong string so as to avoid baby getting tangled in them. Thingslike plastic milk bottle tops in a bunch, rattles and teething toys, stocking scrunchies (see above), small teddy bears, large plastic or wooden cotton reels, lids from hair spray cans, plastic spoons, etc.


A small box like a wine casket size or cereal packet, can be covered with plain paper to begin with then add pictures of people's faces, flowers, and animals for example. Then cover with plastic or cover-seal. Baby will turn the box over and over in their hands to see the pictures, especially if they are bright and nice to look at.


Empty and clean film canisters, covered with paper and decorated, filled with rice, macaroni, pebbles, etc makes a nice small rattle for baby to hold in their hands.


Save any empty lids you come across like shaving foam and hair spray lids, and then give to baby from sitting up age to practice stacking and clapping together to make sounds.

If after making all of the above, your baby is still bored, put a little honey on their fingertips and give them a fluffy feather to play with. It's almost homemade and very effective too.

Howick, New Zealand


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