Homemade infant toys can be just as fun as store bought toys. Homemade toys cost less and are usually more environmentally friendly, because they allow you to recycle what you have.
Easy Homemade Baby Toys
A good rule of thumb for homemade toys is to keep each toy simple and safe. When considering homemade toys for your baby follow these safe infant toy guidelines.
Following are some easy, fun, and inexpensive ideas for homemade infant toys. All of these are good for small babies up to a year old - although older kids may enjoy some of these toys as well. As you should with most toys, be sure to be with your baby when he plays, that way if something ever does go wrong with a toy, you'll be there.
Wooden blocks are really expensive. Instead salvage some extra wood, saw it into small shapes, and paint with a non-toxic paint or finish. You can find salvaged wood everywhere--from homebuilders (they toss tons of wood scraps), at garage sales, or the local high school woodshop class.
For a great set of huge lightweight blocks, save your milk cartons, wash them well, and unfold the top. Fold the top down flat and use clear packing tape to secure it shut. With no stuffing these blocks will be really light and easy to crush. If you want them a little sturdier, you can stuff them with old junk mail, newspaper, or fabric scraps. If you tape them securely enough you can also include little bells inside (before taping), which gives your little one a set of jingle blocks.
Take pictures of all the items and people in your baby's world to create a small baby album book - especially take lots of pictures of your baby. At around nine months of age, babies love to look at babies their own age, especially themselves. Snag one of those old photo albums, you know, the non-acid free ones that have the clear plastic covers for each page, and create a little album.
You can make mat baby books as well. You need a huge piece of cardboard, some sheets of plastic covering, and an imagination. Create a story with magazine scraps, photos, paints, crayons, whatever you like, and glue them to the cardboard. Cover with clear cover, and your baby can crawl on it, drool on it, and no harm will come to it. Note: you can use large heavy weight construction paper; when covered with plastic it won't bend too badly, but cardboard is better.
Fun Felt World
Did you know that felt naturally sticks to itself? It does. Get the biggest size piece of felt you can; white felt is the best, but black is a nice base too. Use two sided adhesive to stick it to the wall. White Conversely, you can stick the piece or pieces of felt to cardboard and hang that on the wall.
Cut out world scenes from other colors of felt. Cut trees, people, buildings, dogs, kites, ponds, clouds, and more. Then create a little world with your baby. Little ones may stick felt in their mouth, so this is absolutely a play together toy - but it helps your baby to develop hand eye coordination, and he gets to hear you telling a fun story.
To make a soft crinkle ball simply take an old clean sock, fill it with used tissue paper, and sew or knot shut. The sock ball will be small enough for little hands and make a great crinkling sound. This is one of the best homemade infant toys; babies love the crinkle sound.
Grab an old coffee can for a loud noisemaker. A smaller round tin hot cocoa container is a better size if you have one. Fill with small pebbles and hot glue the lid on. You don't want the lid coming off! When you roll this across the floor it will make a great noise that any baby will love to crawl after.
Remove the label from and wash out a clear plastic container - a small Dijon mustard container for example. Fill it with water; add a dash of food coloring, and some shiny fun. Glitter, sparkling beads, even foil, or drops of cooking oil can be added to the water. Make sure you glue the lid on securely. When your baby shakes this in the sunshine, the colors will sparkle.
To make crayons big enough for a baby, break old crayons into an older muffin pan, heat in the oven at 300 degrees until melted. Once you break them out, you'll have huge crayons that fit in a baby's fist, but not his mouth. This is best for nine month old and older babies.
For this project you'll need several milk or juice jug lids. You'll also need an empty coffee can. Make sure all the items are thoroughly washed before you begin. Cut an X in the top of the coffee can's plastic lid. Make sure the X is wide enough so that you can push the juice lids through the top fairly easily. You and your baby can take turns pushing the lids through the top. If you use a metal coffee can, the lids make a satisfying "kerplunk!" sound when they hit the bottom.
Babies love noise them can make themselves. Instead of spending money on plastic rattlers, you can make your own out of baby jars. Use a clean baby jar and fill it with small shells, buttons or colored rice. Place super glue underneath the rim of the jar lid and seal it down tight so the items won't spill.
Soft Baby Dolls
Soft dolls are sold for $15 or more at toy stores. You can make your own by using pantyhose and a few other supplies from a sewing or craft store. All you'll need is a few pairs of pantyhose, some polyester fiberfill, a rubber band and some yarn. Cut the legs of the pantyhose into 18 inch long strips. Fill each section with fiberfill and then tie a knot to close off the ends. Use a needle and thread to sew five of these filled tubes together to form the arms, legs and torso. Cut one of the lengths in half and a form a head with fiberfill, then sew this piece to the top. Use a permanent marker to draw eyes and a mouth. Finally attach yarn to the head for hair.
Color Matching Puzzle
This game is easy to make and great for boosting baby's brain power. Take a sheet of cardboard and tape down large squares of four different colors. You can also paint the cardboard if you want to. After the board is ready, select items from around your house that match the colors of the board. Show your toddler how to sort the pieces and then he or she can practice matching them with the colors on the board on their own.
Ideas Besides Homemade Infant Toys
Sometimes you don't even need to make a toy. Get out the pots, pans, and wooden spoons. Play good old peek-a-boo; a game that never gets old for babies. Try singing, reading books, playing outside in the grass, or at the local park, and involving your little one in all your day-to-day activities. Your baby will gain important developmental skills and appreciate the attention much more than a toy
Where to Find Other Homemade Toys
Amazon has a set of Montessori-inspired toys for babies.
You also might like to look at Etsy. While you wouldn't be making the toys; there are many individuals at Etsy making wonderful handmade, homemade items that you can purchase. There's always a good selection of cool baby stuff. Plus, it's fun to browse. You never know what you'll find.