DIY toys for toddlers

Small travelers coming home.

So we were travelling for few months, met different people on the road, played with kids at Slavs and Vikings festival, changed diapers on the grass in national parks, ate sand at Baltic Sea, played with everything and found everything interesting. We came back home, to our sweet 4 walls with whole bunch of toys. “OMG! Are those my toys! I don’t remember them! Hurray!!!” But it takes only few minutes to go back to: I’m-bored-Mummy-mood. Surprised? NOT AT ALL 😀

When we travel, everything is constantly changing. New people, new places, new experiences, new tastes and smells. How can we even expect that, after coming back home, our small explorer will lose interest in everything and calmly sit down and play with toys. Once we picked the adventure path for our children, let’s stick to it.

Forget expensive singing bears, peeing and crying baby dolls, learning tables (Really dear companies? You play this card with parents? The only thing those toys can teach is the parents’ patience, while their kids are learning nothing apart from nonsense chaotic disco sounds). But how without THOSE toys your baby will develop motoric skills, learn vocabulary, sorting, distinguishing opposites, and more… STOP! For vocabulary there is YOU, your kids’ parent. Many studies already proved that kids learn better the language from the real person than for example from TV. So calm down, by not buying a counting bear you are not neglecting your child’s math skills. Everything else your child can learn from everything that surrounds her/him.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against mass produced toys and big companies. When I became a parent, I as well fell into the trap of “don’t-you-want-the-best-for-your-baby”. I read many blogs about the newest toys, which teach thousands of skills. And all this to make my daughter’s day exciting and develop her interest in the world. But at some point you realize, that no matter how great a toy is, it will not be new (read: “interesting”) in a short time. And you will again find your toddler pulling your skirt down, while you’re trying to make something in the kitchen.


You have to start thinking like your child. You might not remember, but when you were traveling as a kid the most interesting and fun thing was probably to play with a stick or stone or whatever that was around. When I go through the most memorable fun moments of our daughter, there seems to be a pattern of “whatever-that-is-around”:

– an empty cup in a café in Vilnius
– a box of tissues in Petrovac
– a sock in Krakow
– clothes clips in Poland
– a tissue package in Dubrovnik
– etc.

When you take a closer look, the “whatever-that-is-around” pattern is everywhere whenever you travel. So why not to take this pattern back home???

Here are few tips how to keep the world of your toddler interesting, teach creativity, save money on toys for your next travels and use the “whatever-that-is-around” pattern to make new toys.

1. A box of tissues

If you are a parent and tell me that your kid never played with a box of dry tissues, I will seriously doubt that you have kids 😉 It’s a fun game until you see all the clean tissues lying on the floor, torn and in spit. The only thing you can do is to make this game more fun for you. You need:

– an empty tissue box;
– filling: for us the best worked socks ( I used single ones from pairs where one is missing). But if course you can take anything “whatever-that-is-around”

And it works like this 🙂

socks box
socks box
socks box
socks box

2. A metal box and clothes clips

When we were in Poland the most interesting “toy” for Zosia seemed to be a clothes clip. Whenever she saw them, she got super excited. So, at some point, I thought: why shouldn’t I use them as “real toys”? You need:

– a metal box (why metal? Well, when your kid throws anything plastic / wooden into it, it makes sound 🙂 );
– clothes clips.

How to play? Till now we have two kinds of games:

– taking/throwing clothes clips in and out;
– fix clothes clips on the edge of the box, taking them out makes fun as well.

DIY toys for toddlers
DIY toys for toddlers
clothes clips box
clothes clips box
DIY toys
DIY toys

3. Wooden blocks in a food steamer

No, you don’t need exactly a food steamer. Our broke and the plastic boxes from it were standing in the corridor to be thrown away. Every time our daughter saw them, she crawled to the boxes and started to play. Aha! Got ya! “Whatever-that-is-around” pattern works again. So you take:

– boxes from a broken food steamer;
– wooden blocks in different colors.

The skills you can “train”: putting objects in and out, building a tower from the food steamer boxes, segregate wooden blocks by shape, color ect. Work your imagination and you get the best teaching toy ever 🙂

wooden blocks
wooden blocks
wooden blocks
wooden blocks

4. Discovery bottles

We often made them during our travels. We put stones, sand, shells and sea water there. Works as well as a travel memory bottle when you’re back home. At home we made discovery bottles with beans, buttons, broken jewelry pieces, glitter, etc. You need:

– an empty plastic bottle;
– imagination 🙂 you can put whatever you want inside. The only limit is your imagination.

While making toys remember to make sure they are safe for your child!!!

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Post Author: lovetravellingfamily

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