10 DIY Toys for Babies

a baby hovers over his edible finger paints and tastes them

When it comes to babies, the very best gifts are often those household items just sitting around in plain sight! Babies and toddlers love to use things they see YOU use day-to-day. And it need not require an entire afternoon of crafting! Here are 10 of our favorite DIY toys and activities you can make or use from items around the house.

if baby is just getting ready to start solids, check out our page on Readiness as well as our guides and videos on starting solids with real food.

10 DIY Toys to Advance Baby’s Motor Skills

Disclaimer: Be sure to always supervise small babies when playing with items that may be considered choking hazards. 

1. Old Wallet with Playing Cards

Don’t throw away that old wallet! Put some playing cards in and show your baby how to take the cards out and put them back in. 

An old wallet with playing cards inserted into the credit card slots

2. Empty Make Up Containers

Clean out an old makeup container (making sure it’s completely clean and washed) and show your babe how to open it. Once they figure it out, they’ll love it!

3. Tissue Pull

The tissue pull is an all-time favorite activity. Instead of letting baby pull all the wipes out of the container, you can recreate this at home with an old tissue box. Once the box is empty of tissue, you can cut strips of fabric from blankets or clothes in the box for one fun pull after another. This is a great way to work on the developing pincer grasp from 9 to 12 months.

Amelia, 9 months, plays with a homemade tissue pull toy.

4. Cardboard Tunnel

If you have some old moving boxes, appliance boxes, or the large size diaper boxes, you can open up each side of the box and have a short tunnel. Crawling promotes shoulder stability and is awesome for hand development as well. This will help with the refined movements of bringing food from the plate to the mouth.

Amelia, 9 months, crawls through a homemade cardboard box tunnel

5. Homemade Shaker

Buying lentils or rice in bulk? Maybe you can spare a few and put into an empty toilet paper roll. If you clamp the ends and cover with tape, you can make a container that is now a music maker! Another option is to use an empty spice container. Lots of fun awaits with this DIY shaker.

Amelia, 9 months, plays with a homemade shaker.

6. Crinkle Paper

Parchment paper is perfect for making crinkle paper. You can cut into squares and cover in cloth like a reusable plastic bag. You can draw on the paper with markers to make it more visually appealing. The crunching will help build the tiny muscles of the hands.

Charles, 8 months, plays with crinkle paper.

7. Wool Balls

These are a favorite for a dryer sheet replacement. If you already have them, they provide great sensory experience, but also allow for practicing precise movements. You can have baby drop into wide containers and small containers. 

Amelia, 9 months, plays with wool balls.

8. Kitchen Measuring Cups 

Pouring cups are actually a common bath toy. Instead of just using the cups in the bath, you can use the dry measuring cups to scoop rice, lentils, beans, or whatever else you have in the kitchen. To practice more refined movements, you can also use measuring spoons.

Charles, 8 months, plays with measuring cups and rice.

9. Straw Pull

Pulling straw out of a container or bowl can also help with pincer grasp. Depending on the size of the straws you can practice multiple precision grasps. Practice makes progress! 

Amelia, 9 months, plays with her straws.

10. Edible Finger Paint

This is a great way to explore texture on the hands and also finger isolation. There are many recipes available, but most include water, cornstarch, and sugar. You can always swap the traditional food coloring for natural versions (blackberries, beets, turmeric, etc.).

Charles, 8 months, plays with homemade edible finger paints.
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