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Easy Upcycled DIY Fine Motor Toy For for Infants

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Our LG has always immediately gravitated towards whatever she isn’t “supposed” to have. Keeping up with her is an even bigger challenge now that she’s crawling! She really loves buckles, ribbons, wires, ties, etc. Really anything that could become a strangulation hazard! Lately she’s also been really enjoying an empty oatmeal container, so I decided to make her an upcycled DIY fine motor toy that combines bright colors with the allure of the forbidden. Please don’t tell her that I made sure all the ribbons are too short to be hazardous!

upcycled DIY fine motor toy for infants

This toy is super easy to make! We usually buy store brand oatmeal when it’s in stock, but I know LG really likes the brightly colored Quaker box and the cardboard is a bit thicker than many store brands I’ve encountered. I did not decorate the container because I know our girl is drawn to its un-decorated appearance. You could paint your oatmeal container with a certified nontoxic paint if you’d prefer.

Materials needed to make an upcycled DIY fine motor toy

  • An empty oatmeal container, box, or something similar and food-grade cardboard.
  • A pair of scissors with pointy ends, a small awl, a large nail, or something else to poke holes with.
  • Ribbons. I used a variety of 1/4″ ribbons, some smooth and others with texture.
  • A lighter. Optional but helpful to prevent fraying if you use synthetic ribbons.

materials for DIY fine motor toy with an oatmeal box

Upcycled DIY fine motor toy with an oatmeal container

Cut as many pieces of ribbon as you’d like to use. Make sure your ribbons are fairly short. Anything that can form a loop that’s longer than 6″ can become a hazard! I cut my ribbons ever so slightly longer than 6″ to allow space for knots. (As a note – I’ve seen some sources say that a loop over 5″ is hazardous, so feel free to go even shorter if it makes you more comfortable.)

Use your scissors, awl, or other tool to very carefully poke holes in your cardboard container. Make them just large enough to slip a ribbon though. I used a single blade from a smallish pair of scissors to stab a small slit – don’t create a giant hole or the ribbons will pull right through. Poke one hole for each of your ribbons.

If you’d like, singe the ribbon ends to help prevent fraying.

Tie a knot in one end of each ribbon. One by one, thread the ribbons through a pre-cut hole, then knot the opposite end. It can be really tricky to the the knot inside the container, so I recommend threading from the inside out (so that the pre-tied knot is inside the container and you’re tying the second knot on the outside). Test your ribbons to make sure they can’t escape through the holes. If they can, tie a second knot on top of the first to make it more bulky.

Hand over the toy and watch your baby enjoy! As with any toy, please make sure to directly supervise your little one while they use it.

upcycled DIY fine motor toy with an oatmeal container

Even though I made this a little while ago, this upcycled toy is still out on LG’s shelves and she still likes to play with it! Though, honestly, all of her toys have recently taken a back seat to cruising and crawling away from us at top speed! I feel like she’s going to be walking way sooner than any of us are ready for.

Easy DIY Fine Motor Toy for Babies

Have you ever made upcycled toys or used non-toy items as toys?

Natasha of The Artisan Life-01

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Marieken August 1, 2018, 06:15

    Love the idea of upcycling! This shows that a child doesn’t need fancy or expensive toys.

    • Natasha August 1, 2018, 09:26

      This week she’s been totally in love with an empty orange juice jug! She ignores “real” toys in favor of what we would consider trash. It’s pretty neat!

  • Pamela Baker August 1, 2018, 08:35

    What a great idea!! I found that my children (as babies) and my little grandson – always enjoyed things they could interact with – esp something from the kitchen which they are familiar with.
    One thing that would keep them busy was using a soft plastic container and put in various cookies cutters I had. I don’t suggest the metal ones (as everything seems to go in their mouths) but various plastic cutters in various shapes & colors (from the different holidays). The would love taking them out and putting them back into the container. It is the simplest things that keeps their attention for hours. I am sure you have plenty more ideas!!

    • Natasha August 1, 2018, 09:30

      That’s a fun idea! I don’t know how many plastic cookie cutters my mom has, but I’ll certainly take a look! This morning baby girl was really thrilled with a rubber spatula – it kept her busy long enough for me to get breakfast ready!

  • Blue August 1, 2018, 14:15

    That’s such a good idea! I’ve never ever thought of making a child’s toy by myself but it sounds like fun and so environmentally-friendly 😀

    • Natasha August 1, 2018, 15:54

      We love making things for our little one! It’s so much fun. Thanks for stopping in!

  • Erin August 1, 2018, 14:26

    My mom used to do this for me! She loves telling stories of the “toys” i used to play with. Which we’re just things from around the house!

    • Natasha August 1, 2018, 14:53

      My mom likes to tell me about how my grandfather gave me pots and pans from the kitchen as toys and I loved them!

  • Veronica August 1, 2018, 15:52

    That’s a great toy idea and most especially the materials you used. Always need to recycle. 🙂

    Joy to the World

    • Natasha August 1, 2018, 15:55

      I love making recycled things! It feels good and saves money, too. =)

  • Nessy August 1, 2018, 20:25

    I’ve tried this one before with my nephew. He also loved it! And it’s funny because even though he has A LOT of toys, he likes using actual household items more and recycled stuff like this. 🙂 I guess toddlers can really see the “real” value of things beyond the price tag.

    • Natasha August 2, 2018, 08:36

      I think little babies and toddlers can frequently see more clearly because they don’t know about money and how much they ‘should’ value something based on its price tag! I also think part of it comes from the baby/child seeing adults using the item. Our girl always gravitates towards the things we use most like phones, shoes, and keys.

  • Rose August 1, 2018, 23:02

    Love this idea!! Tommy is also drawn to all things forbidden. Nine times out of ten, he’d rather play with an empty oatmeal container than a traditional toy, so why not make the oatmeal container more engaging?

    • Natasha August 2, 2018, 08:34

      I’m glad to know it isn’t just our girl! It seems like she only has eyes for the things she isn’t supposed to have!

  • Judi August 15, 2018, 23:31

    How about not cutting your ribbon until it is secured on the inside. That way there should be plenty of length to knot it, THEN cut to desired length. Makes life easier.

    • Natasha August 16, 2018, 08:50

      That’s a good idea! I was really concerned with cutting my ribbons to an exact length to make sure they were short enough, but it certainly would be easier to cut the ribbons after threading them through the holes. I can be very poor at estimating length/distance, but I’m sure most people would be able to cut the ribbons short enough by eyeballing it!

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