11.18.2013

Make Your Own Baby Toys For Under $5



It's been a while since I posted, but I've been busy crafting and planning some fun posts for you guys!

Today, I'm going to share some instructions for making your own wooden baby toys and teethers.



Why Make Your Own Baby Toys?

BABIES ARE LITTLE SCIENTISTS
Babies learn about the world around them by exploring, and most of this is done with their mouth. They also must learn about gravity (unfortunately, this is not hardwired into their brain) and other natural laws.
If you've noticed, babies love to dump, throw, pick up, touch, and destroy anything they can get their hands on. They do this to understand how the world works. Wood dropped on carpet makes a different sound than wood dropped on tile. Wood makes a louder sound when dropped than does my teddy bear. This goes on and on. Babies love to see the cause and effect of their actions. If they have only electronic/plastic toys, the resources available to them are greatly reduced, and consequently they learn less about the cause/effect of their actions and the overall physics of their world. Also, if they have an electronic toy that makes sounds when they press a button, all they can do with that toy is press a button. On the other hand, a toy made with metal bells and other materials has a plethora of opportunities for learning. e.g. "There is a lot more sound when I shake it fast, and a lot less sound when I shake it slowly." "There is no sound when I put it in my mouth," etc.


NATURAL MATERIALS
Recently I read the book "Last Child in the Woods" and found it very interesting that most baby toys are made with synthetic materials (polyester, hard plastic, soft plastic, plastic, plastic, plastic). This may not seem like a big deal, but even if you get BPA free toys, it still isn't healthy for your baby to only experience one type of texture.

As mentioned above, babies explore the world with their mouth, whether you like it or not :) So offer your baby toys that are made of all kinds of natural, safe textures. Like 100% cotton, wool, silk, wood, and metal (make sure it isn't sharp or harmful, of course). Babies will learn that certain items feel and taste different, and this will help tremendously with their development! Seriously. 


SIMPLICITY
The more simple the toy, the more that is left to the imagination. Literally. When a child has lots of toys that make noise and do all the imagining for them, there is little left for the child to make up and imagine themselves. In his book, "The Power of Play", Dr. Elkind explains that children need simple toys in order to further develop their imaginations. Intricate and extravagant toys can be compared to television in that the mind slips into a less active state and lets the visuals of the item take over. 



After reading a few books on toys (especially Montessori) and play, I was really excited to get Sawyer some toys made from natural materials that are specifically engineered for little hands. I really like this, this, this, this, and these.
But HOLY COW, did you see the price tags?!

As most of you know, I'm kind of a child development/healthnut/design snob, so I didn't want to settle on the obnoxious, bright, cheaply made plastic toys.

Well, "necessity is the mother of invention." Or in my case, "frugality is the mother of invention" :)

Aaron and I have been hard at work creating different toys with natural materials. We have about five different toys that we have made so far, and I'm so excited to share the instructions with you! Oh, and did I mention that you can make them all for under $5 each? Some are even under $1! Wahoo!



The first (and easiest) toy works well for infants 3+ months old and it's great for developing hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills, and it is lovely for chewing and sucking.

You'll need:
14" in strip of Deerskin Lace (may need to be longer depending on your ability to tie knots)
Natural wood polish (recipe below)


  1. Make wood polish and let set until hardened.
  2. Polish wood balls and ring with polish. I found it was best to give the wood a few layers of polish so that they are more waterproof.
  3. Tie knot at end of Deerskin, leaving at least 1" at end for tying the final knot. The first knot does not need to be tight, because you'll be untying it at the end.
  4. String beads through the deerskin and pull ring over the beads.
  5. Lay down the toy and carefully untie the first knot. Bring both ends up together and tie a TIGHT square knot. Since the deerskin will stretch over time, it is important to pull the beads close together and leave very little slack. Once you have tied the knot, pull tight and trim ends.
Notes:
  • I've tried making this toy with yarn and string. It does not work. I repeat: it does not work! Deerskin lace has been the only thing that is strong enough to last.
  • If you download the Joann's app you can get 40-60% off coupons for buying the materials, there are ALWAYS coupons available on the app, and you can use each coupon more than once!

Homemade Wood Polish
Adapted from this recipe

2 Tbsp finely grated beeswax or beeswax beads (make sure it is food-grade or has no additives)
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3-4 drops of lemon essential oil
A small glass container
A pot with about 2 inches of water in it
A spoon

First, you want to heat up your water to steaming (not boiling). Once the water is pretty warm, put your beeswax in the glass container and then set the glass container gently into the warm-hot water, making sure the water does NOT sink into the beeswax or overflow in any way, shape or form.

Doing it this way really helps avoid any beeswax mess and cuts down on cleaning time immensely (to almost zero minutes). Otherwise, you could always just use a real double boiler to melt everything, and then you’ll have to clean your double boiler after you pour it in your container.



Check out the other DIY baby toys:

Wooden Teething Ring

14 comments:

  1. Jessica, I will definitely be referring back to these posts when I have kids. :)

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  2. I know it is not "natural" and maybe a bit older for your baby, but a lady in my ward made her own toys. The one that I thought was the most brilliant was a cheap tupperwear that she had cut a slot in the lid of. And then she had multi-colored milk lids that the kids could put in the slot and then dump them out. It was good for shaking and making noise or for sorting colors. Cheapest toy ever!

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    Replies
    1. Oh I've seen that toy, and I'm planning to make one someday! They are great for fine motor development, plus they are dirt cheap!

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    2. Ooo that is a really cool idea! We recycle and always have yogurt tubs and milk tops sitting around! I also love the natural wooden toys. I just bought the wooden beads and rings to make some yesterday! :)

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  4. Baby harness/rein prevents your child wander too far from you during outside walking or activity. For more details about unique baby items, check our eBay store here: Baby Harness and Reins

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  6. Good God..simply love the toys! will definitely be thinking to make it for my second baby next time. :D

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  7. I could not find the supplies... At least the rings at Joann's. The beads they had were from China. Are those safe?

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    Replies
    1. Did you check online? I found the rings online at another craft store website, you can also find these supplies on amazon. I like Boye products because (according to their website) they are an American company that produces craft products in the U. S. However, if you're uncertain as to the safety of the product I would stay on the safe side and buy a toy that guarantees a safe product :)

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  9. There is a wide range of newborn baby toys online,so always choose the most appropriate toys for the kids which also appear interesting.

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