Are you looking for some homemade baby toys for under 1 year olds? It can be hard to find inexpensive baby toys, let alone ones that will help their learning and development. Below I’ve included my top 9 ways to create homemade baby toys that are both engaging and promote baby’s development.
As a primary school teacher, I know how important it is to be ‘teaching’ children, especially infants, about the world around them. We often tell parents to let their babies explore the world around them in order to learn, but how often do we give parents a nudge in the right direction on how to do that? Even as a trained teacher, I myself was a bit unsure of what to do with this tiny human – I’m equipped to deal with them when they are 5 years and older! But seriously… how can we help our babies to learn – that’s the fundamental question, right? We want clarification that we are doing the right things as mums – we are doing the best we can and giving our bubs the best start to life.
If this is you, I hope these top 10 homemade toys for babies under 1 year old will help you feel more confident in providing some amazing learning experiences for your baby at home.
1. Pasta shaker/rattle
Probably one of the simplest homemade toys for babies you could make, add some plain pasta (or rice) to a plastic water bottle to create an instant rattle. Rattles are a great way to develop a baby’s sense of hearing, and help them to associate sounds with objects and actions (for example, recognising that the plastic bottle will make a rattle sound when I hold it and shake it up and down). This is great for bubs who can start grabbing onto toys – if not, hold it and shake it in front of them, or shake it to the sides so they can learn to turn their head towards the sounds.
2. Play Pen (until they can climb out)
To keep your bub entertained for more than 5 minutes (maybe while you’re in desperate need of a shower), grab a washing basket and fill it with some baby-appropriate toys (teething toys are always good!). Sit bub in the basket, when they are able to sit unaided, and allow them to play with all the toys. They should stay relatively within reach as they fall into the basket, unless they have learnt to start throwing – in which case, good luck!
3. Mirror (foil)
Babies learning to recognise themselves in the mirror is a really important part of their development of self-concept and self-awareness. Exposure to as many mirrors and shiny surfaces to look at themselves supports this. If you don’t have many ‘mirrors’ available, create your own with a piece of cardboard and a flat piece of foil.
4. Coloured spaghetti/sensory play
I got this great sensory play idea from Casey of Little Lifelong Learners (her eBook has the idea, it is AH-MAZING). I cooked plain spaghetti and put some food colouring in the water as it was boiling (make sure you put in a fair bit to properly dye the spaghetti). I let the spaghetti drain and cool, and then watched as my son played with it. He enjoyed feeling it with his fingers, his face and his mouth (yes he ate a fair bit!). Sensory play supports babies understanding of the world around them, and is super fun for everyone (and messy too!)
5. Tissue box/scarves
Another tactile – less messy – homemade toy for babies is filling an empty tissue box with scarves or pieces of fabric. Babies can develop their fine and gross motor skills (physical development) by pulling the scarves out of the box.
6. Tissue box blocks
Another use for tissue boxes (making it a great budget idea, like these other top tips for saving as a new mum) is to get your baby to use them as building blocks. It is a great way to recycle the boxes and allow your baby to develop their physical and cognitive development.
7. Sensory bottles
These are another great sensory play ideas – mostly for sight (and possibly sound). Fill an empty bottle with water, add some food colouring and possibly glitter glue (because it is pretty and will make the liquid move around slower!) and other objects such as plastic animals, pom poms or the like – get creative! Your baby will love staring at the wonders inside, supporting their cognitive development.
8. Water Play
Water play is a simple, homemade ‘toy’ for babies, because we have easy access to it. My son is at the stage where he LOVES splashing water (which he started from around 7 months of age). If your highchair has an additional tray, put some water in it and sit your baby at their highchair. Allow them to splash water around (you may like a splash mat or to sit them outside) and let them have fun with it. Alternatively you may get a bucket of water for them to play with – great for the hot, summery days/months.
9. Edible Paint
I was so excited to try this idea – I honestly can’t remember where I saw it (Pinterest maybe?) so if you have this link please let me know! Simply mix some food colouring with some yoghurt (I use greek yoghurt) and put it on the splash mat for your bub to explore – another messy version of sensory play! That way your bub can smoosh it and if they eat it, there’s no fuss! Alternatively, you can get some non-toxic paint in a zip lock bag and let them feel the paint in the bag.
What homemade toys have you made for your baby? Has your baby had a favourite toy?