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Posted by Casey

Over the years, I have created many baby play DIYs for our three children! Today I’m sharing some of my favorites that are easy to make and have many benefits for your baby!

One of the reasons I love advocating for baby play is that it is a wonderful way to slow down and connect with our little ones. We live in a time that is go-go-go, but our children need time to play, learn and imagine! I know you may hear this all the time, that they grow up so fast, but they really do. Take the time and play with your babies because you’ll be creating a bond that will set the most incredible foundation while creating some pretty special memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime!

I know sometimes it can be really hard knowing exactly how to play with your baby – they don’t move much, they have limited attention spans, and they can’t talk to you! So if you’re not sure where to start, you can download our FREE Baby Milestone’s eBook to help you work out what developmental stage your baby is at. Making a simple baby play DIY will not only help you fill in your days at home, but it’ll support your baby’s development too!

Sensory Frames

These sensory frames are such a simple baby play DIY and they’ve been popular with all THREE of our babies! He.ad to your local dollar store or craft store and grab some simple picture frames – I looked for ones with rounded edges and corners where possible. Next, look for some different textured items to pop in the frames – pieces of fabric, lace, artificial grass, fuzzy fabrics, silky fabrics, pipe cleaners, pieces of ribbon, placemats that could be easily cut etc.

Take the glass out of each frame and safely discard. Next, use hot glue to attach your materials to the backs of the frames and place them back into the picture frame. I didn’t glue the backs into the frames, but I would suggest doing that for longevity if you’re worried! I shared a video demo of how I made the frames over on Instagram!

You can lay out all the frames at once or just a few at a time. Sensory frames will help your child develop hand-eye coordination and strengthen the fine motor muscles in their hands. Plus, you’ll be switching up your tummy time routine with an engaging baby play DIY that is sure to be a hit even with a baby who doesn’t usually enjoy being on their belly!

Sensory Bottles

Making sensory bottles is another simple and cost-effective baby play DIY. I used small plastic jars from the dollar store or even recycled softdrink bottles (about 300mls). I fill our jars with all kinds of small loose parts that a baby usually wouldn’t be able to explore safely. Think about adding objects that are light to hold and some that make fun noises too – things like chickpeas, split peas, pom poms, and potpourri.

You can even make rainbow sensory bottles with one for each colour using crafty loose parts like feathers, paddle pop sticks, glitter, pony beads, mini erasers and buttons! Check out this post to see how to dye rice to make it colourful to pop inside a sensory bottle too!

Your child will benefit from these sensory bottles by improving their hand-eye coordination and cause-and-effect as their bottles make a fun noise when they’re shaken or rolled. That auditory feedback builds such an incredible foundation for your baby as they play and make sense of the world around them! Babies love to put things in their mouths and these bottles make it easy and safe for oral exploration too.

Posting Containers

Old jars and containers make wonderful posting activities for babies! When you observe your baby beginning to put things in and out of boxes or bowls, this is a great time to start exploring posting. We often start with a large bowl or open container and post large balls into the hole like the example below!

As your baby’s fine motor skills develop, you can use small plastic bottles with paddle pop sticks or even old spice containers and post matchsticks into the holes for a trickier posting invitation.

Your child will strengthen their fine motor muscles, hand-eye coordination, explore cause-and-effect and probelm solving skills as they explore and play with posting activities like these!

Rainbow Baby Mobile

You will need a few things to create this rainbow baby mobile: an embroidery hoop, string or elastic to hang it and several spools of ribbon. You can use whatever colours of ribbon you want, but we went with a rainbow theme! Cut your ribbon into strips of similar length. To attach the ribbon to the hoop, fold it in half to create an arch and place it over the hoop and then tuck the ends of the ribbons through the arch and pull tight. The ribbon will tighten around the hoop. Continue until all the ribbons are on the hoop! See this blog for more detail.

Once finished, you can hang your rainbow baby mobile above your baby’s play space! I used elastic to hang the hoop so my baby could pull the ribbons as she got older. The rainbow mobile is great for young babies that can’t roll over yet so you can lay them on their backs underneath it and watch the ribbons blow gently in the breeze.

Babies will strengthen their ability to focus on things with their eyes and track movement. Eventually, they might even reach for and pull the ribbons. This will strengthen their fine motor muscles and hand-eye coordination too!

Baby Sensory Bags

To make these baby sensory bags, I used laminating sheets to create more durable bags. In the past, I’ve used zippered sandwich bags but they tear very easily! To start, I used an iron to seal three sides of the laminating sheets, leaving the top side unsealed. Next, I added my sensory items and sealed the top with the iron, being sure to carefully remove as much air as I could! Lastly, add painter’s tape to each side to protect little hands from sharp edges.

I made some sensory bags with corn kernels and another with water and pom poms. Other ideas for sensory fillers include hair gel as a base and then add glitter, pom poms, pony beads, or other small manipulatives to the gel. You could also make sensory bags with mini erasers, rice, dry noodles, chickpeas, or dried beans. Another fun idea would be to fill it with a couple of colours of paint!

Sensory play is wonderful for babies and toddlers. They love it and it’s a wonderful way to support them as they make sense about the world around them! This kind of sensory invitation develops hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, cause-and-effect and they get to explore their world in a safe manner!

There are so many fun ways we can play with our babies! But I also wanted to remind you that you are your baby’s favourite plaything and you are enough! You don’t have to spend a ton of money to help your child learn and develop. Spend time playing, interacting, and connecting with your child through these simple baby play DIYs and create some pretty special memories together while you’re at it!

I would LOVE to see these easy baby play DIYs in action at your home! Tag me over on Instagram using the #littlelifelonglearners hashtag and tagging me @littlelifelonglearners so I can see what you’re up to!

About the author

Casey is an early years teacher who passionate about supporting parents and educators that want to use play as way to connect with their little learners and create magical memories of childhood! You can follow Casey on Instagram right here.


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