Start a Playgroup with Little or No Money
Baby on a Budget
No Cost Ways to Show Your Love
Isn't it amazing that no matter how many fancy toys you buy or are given for your baby, they always prefer the box it came in, or something they find lying around the house?
So if you like to save money and enjoy making crafty things, have a look at these ideas:
Fancy Baby Bottles
Using an empty clear soft drink bottle, fill with any of the following items: chopped up pieces of kitchen sponge, marbles or clean pebbles, glitter, and tiny pieces of cut up tinfoil. Fill the bottle with clean water and either glue or cellotape the lid on tightly.
A handful of rice or pebbles inside a small plastic bottle or a container will make a nice gentle rattle. Secure the lid on tightly and remove from baby once they become capable of taking lids off.
Hand and Foot Rattles
A quick way to make a hand or foot rattle for a baby is to stitch a small existing rattle onto a bootie or mitten. Then place onto the baby to produce a rattling sound when they move.
If you have some left over scraps of material, particularly in different textures, sew together to make a little ball and stuff with more scraps, and if you like insert a small bell inside before stitching up well.
Very first books for a newborn baby can be made in a concertina formation. Using a sheet of cardboard, cut to a size that is easy to handle. Fold into three or four equal sections and decorate each section with either bright painted colors or use cut out pictures from a magazine and stick onto the cardboard before covering with clear plastic such as cover-seal.
To make one of these, insert some shiny crinkly wrapping paper into an old stocking or pantyhose, and tie at each end. You can make short ones, or long ones that can be tied to a pram or mobile gym for entertainment.
First you'll need to start saving plastic lids from milk bottle tops, and soft drink bottles. Punching a little hole into the top of each with a knife, thread onto a piece of cord, or ribbon to create a chain of lids that rattle.
Decorate a coat hanger with pieces of Christmas tinsel, strips of fabric, small soft toys, rattles, brightly colored cut-out pieces of cardboard in fish shapes, ribbons, strips of crepe paper, or anything you can find to make and interesting mobile. Hang over baby's cot safely out of reach.
If you purchase a plastic clothes airer in a circle shape with pegs attached (for drying underwear and socks), the things you hang on the mobile can be changed regularly to provide changing stimulation.
A piece of smooth wood (i.e. a broom handle) can be made into a play gym that can be placed over the top of two chairs securely or hung somewhere for baby to play with. Attach things that are safe to be chewed and touched by short pieces of string so as to avoid baby getting tangled in them. Things like rattles and teething toys, stocking scrunchies, small soft toys, large plastic cotton reels, lids from hair spray cans, plastic spoons work well.
Using an empty formula or large coffee can, put in a handful of marbles, acorns, pebbles, or small stones, and then secure the lid on tightly. Cover with paper and decorate. A baby learning to crawl can rattle these around the floor.
To make a simple poster toy for your baby, cut a tennis ball size hole in the lid of a cardboard box or a plastic two-liter ice cream container. Hinge the lid on by securing with masking tape at one side, and then provide some safe objects that aren't too small to be swallowed to post inside the box.
A formula or coffee can be covered with wallpaper decorated to become a drum. Provide a stick (i.e. chopstick or similar) to lightly beat on the drum. For an older child, you can attach a cord to be hung around the neck by drilling a hole in each end.
To make a quick ball for a baby to practice gripping and throwing, simply roll a clean pair of socks into itself.
Using an old cloth nappy or small blanket as a base to start, sew on bright pieces of fabric in different textures and sizes to create a play mat. If you like attach a ribbon to one corner and tie into a bow, which can be pulled apart and re-tied, and you could attach a teething rattle or two for maximum entertainment.
A cereal box can be covered with plain paper to begin with, then add pictures of people's faces, flowers, and animals. Cover with plastic or cover-seal. Baby will enjoy turning the box over and over in their hands to see the pictures.
Save any empty lids you come across like shaving foam and hair spray lids, and then give to baby from sitting up age to practice stacking, nesting inside each other, and clapping together to make sounds.editor's note: always be careful not to give a baby anything that could be dangerous. An item that could be safe for one child could be small enough to pose a choking hazard for another. You need to consider choking, strangling and other dangers with anything that you give your child.
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