Use recycled materials to create 4 homemade toys for babies and toddlers! They are simple to make, cost very little to put together and are great for promoting fine and gross motor skills, concentration, curiosity and cause and effect, amongst other benefits.
For Christmas I made this set of 4 exploratory toys for baby Bean using empty coffee, cocoa and milk powder canisters. I wanted to give her a few different motor skill activities to try and that could present a challenge for her 2 year old sister at the same time.
First I decorated the empty canisters by wrapping them in bright, patterned wrapping papers with contrasting colours. Then I collected some other materials to add to each one, to create a variety of types of toy.
Dropping and Posting Toy:
For this toy I simply cut a slot into the soft plastic lid and found some metal food lids that I had collected. I covered them in paper and numbered them 1-5 (a couple were already under the sofa by the time I took this picture!) That’s it! Baby has absolutely loved this toy the most as she is at that stage of delighting in putting things in and taking them out again. It’s a great game for teaching about object permanence as once the lids go in, the top can come off and they are discovered again inside! Baby Bean can’t quite manage the slot yet so uses it without the lid. but Pop mastered it straight away.
Tactile Ribbon-Pull Tugging Toy:
For this one I punctured some holes into the sides and lid of the container and made sure there were corresponding holes at the same levels on each side. Then I found a variety of highly tactile ribbons in different colours and widths, including velvet, organza, silky and grosgrain. I threaded them through the holes, coming in one side and out the exact same place on the opposite side so that they could be easily pulled back and forth.
I knotted the ends securely so that they can not come out. In the lid I added a few more although these can only be pulled upwards until the lid is taken off and they are adjusted again. Some of these ribbons make a lovely noise when pulled due to their stiffer material, so that added a lovely surprise element to play!
Lolly Stick In-Out Toy:
To make this one I simply cut some slits in the plastic lid and stuck in a bright, colourful, wooden lolly stick into each one. The idea is to pull them out and push them back in again. This toy has been great for both baby and toddler as they use it at their own ability levels.
Bean loves to pull them all out as fast as she can, but really struggles to push them back in yet. Pop enjoys both taking them out and putting them back and it’s great for strengthening her hands and wrists.
Noisy Roller-Shaker Crawling Toy
This one was so simple and quick to put together! This canister is the only one that is made of metal so it lends itself well to being a noisy toy. I filled it about 1/5th full of macaroni and sealed the lid shut. When shaken it makes a wonderful noise but when turned on its side and rolled it becomes a great crawler toy! It rolls away a little, then starts to roll back too, encouraging baby to crawl after it in an exciting game of chase! Bean also enjoys tapping this like a drum too.
They now sit next to our collection of Baby and Toddler Discovery Bottles in Bean’s Baby Play Area and are lots of fun for all our girls and their little visiting friends too!
Be sure to check out all our Baby Play activities here!
Have you made Discovery Bottles yet? They’re awesome!
Top Toys for Babies and Toddlers
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Suja Balaji says
Those are WONDERFUL, especially your Popsicle stick toy. Will be making them soon.
Naomi @ Upcycled Creatively says
I love these! I especially love the ribbon one. Can’t wait to make them soon x
Absolutely brilliant! I have been collecting cans and baby milk containers on the hopes of putting them to some use. I think I’ll be busy with this great idea tomorrow! Thank you 🙂
I love these. Never seen Tactile Ribbon Pull Toy and that was discovery for me! Thanks!:)
Kate - An Everyday Story says
Yours are so pretty 🙂 Jack’s OT had us make him one of the ribbon pull containers to practise his pincer grip as well as the pulling action. At 3 he still liked it 🙂
Anna Ranson says
Agh Kate, there’s me thinking I had invented a new toy! Maybe I’ll become an OT 😉
Kate - An Everyday Story says
hehe yeah I was most impressed when she showed me. OTs have fab fine-motor skills activities…which is obvious now that I write it but you know what I mean 🙂
These are lovely ideas and I’m sure Charis would love them. She was really pleased with the breadstick box full of ping pong balls I gave her for Christmas and these are much better!
Anna Ranson says
But ping pong balls can not be beaten, surely! sounds cool x
Bekka Joy says
I love these!! Especially the ribbon pull what a fabulous idea! I kept an empty spice jar this week to make a rattle for my 8mo !:)
These toys are beautiful. I wish so much my girls were little again so I could make these for them 🙂
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Damson Lane says
These are brilliant. One of my son’s favourite toys was an empty tissue box with some of my scarves stuffed in it. He had hours of fun pulling them out and putting them back in but I never decorated them beautifully like your canisters.
These are great, really like the ribbon idea.
Jennifer Fischer says
Oh my gosh! I totally love this and it is the type of stuff I feature on my Baby Play series, which is coming up on Feb. 22. Can I include it? (w/proper link of course!)
These DIY toys are lovely! You really have amazing and creative ideas! My kids are not toddlers anymore but I’ll save this for the future! It is too fun not to try out with a toddler!
Just Ducky Day Care says
Brillant !!! I am going to dive into my recycling bin. If there isn’t anything in there I’m going to go buy some Ovaltine, coffee, and parmesean cheese. 🙂
Loving the dots paper! Where can I find the same pattern?
Toddlers Playground Equipment says
Wow these are amazing toys for toddlers as they includes lots of colors in it & more important they are safer too.
I loved … my baby does not like the sensory activities with sticky stuff but loves to focus snaps open and close. I do not encourage it as creatively and with toys produced by us. Now I know! 😉
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