I always see these awesome ideas for homemade toys or games on Pinterest or on other blogs, and I always think, "Oh wow, I should make that for L!" Then I read the directions, and there are 47 steps, and step number 19 is something like, "Next, harvest organic saffron from your backyard herb garden," and I realize that I am not talented enough to even PLAY with that particular toy, much less make it.
So for those of us who do not own a sewing machine, woodworking tools, or a pottery kiln, here are some homemade toys that are a little more our speed.
Jar lids in a container
We were over at a neighbor's house for a play date, and she had baskets full of high-quality toys for the kids to play with. Naturally, the only toy that L was interested in was a plastic yogurt container full of jar lids. Since then, we've saved all of our jar lids for L to play with. I cut a rectangular hole in the lid of a plastic container (it used to have Mexican cheese dip in it. See? Sophisticated.) and L puts baby food jar lids into the hole. I'm sure that at this point I'm supposed to say something educational like, "This is excellent for the proper development of hand eye coordination and fine motor skills," which is probably true, but it is also excellent for occupying him long enough for me to make us some breakfast. Before he was able to put the jar lids into the hole, I just left the lid off, and he loved shaking the container so that all of the lids flew out and then putting them back in. An empty coffee can would work well for this, too.
Fabric and ribbon in a wipes box
I think that I originally got this idea from this blog. She is a very talented and creative mom... who has a sewing machine. And maybe woodworking tools or a kiln. So in her version of this idea, she appliqued numbers and letters onto uniformly sized scraps of fabric. As previously discussed, I don't have a sewing machine, and I'm not sure I totally understand what appliqueing is. So my fabric was a bit less... nice. Fortunately, L doesn't seem to mind. See the retro hippy flower fabric? That was from part of a sheet set that I got from my mom, who got it second-hand from my grandma. One of the pillowcases was extremely threadbare in some spots and had a huge hole in it, so I cut it up. Just shove a bunch of pieces of fabric, baby wash cloths, ribbons, etc into a wipes container (Huggies containers are nice because the part where the wipes come out is made of soft rubber), and then let your child pull the pieces out. I first introduced this toy to L when he was about 7 months old, and he had no interest in it whatsoever, so I put it in a closet. I re-introduced it a month or two ago, and now he's a huge fan. Don't have a suitable wipes box handy? This would work with an empty tissue box, too.
The best thing about these toys is that I didn't need to buy (or harvest) anything to make them because I already had all of the necessary components at home. Stay tuned for more extremely sophisticated toys, and in the meantime, please share your ideas for easy homemade toys for babies or toddlers. And don't judge Dan and me for buying such a ridiculously large container of cheese dip. It was delicious.
Don't forget to check out part two of my extremely sophisticated homemade toys here and part three here.