Homemade Toys for Toddlers - Cheap and Simple

Homemade Toys can be made cheaply and easily.  Some are so simple that they only take a few minutes to make and your children can join in to help make them.  They can provide as much, if not more, fun than some expensive toys bought from a store.  Here are some ideas for toys and other activities for you to try out.

Cardboard Boxes

Some fantastic homemade toys can be created from large cardboard boxes, as big as you can find.

- cut windows in one and turn it into a house
- put two together with the sides cut out and make a tunnel
- have a wonderful, messy time painting one in all the colours of the rainbow
- use some card to divide one into four and make a house for soft toys, dolls, etc.

- just give your toddler a box and see what he finds to do with it.


Older babies and children love bunches of keys. Take 7 or 8 large unused keys and boil them for 15 minutes to sterilize them. Then put them on a safe strong split ring – these are solidly made and don’t have any small parts that might come off. Your baby will love playing shaking they keys about and banging them. Your toddler will find all kinds of interesting games to play with it. 

A bunch of keys is also a good toy for older children to use for imaginary play.  Children love to pretend to lock and unlock doors in all kinds of games.

Old Handbag

Find an old handbag, fabric or leather, and fill it with a collection of interesting bits and pieces.

For a baby or young toddler you could put in things that are interesting shapes, have different textures or make a noise such as a ball, a collection of lids from jars, a squeaky toy, some shiny paper, a small plastic box with some rice or peas well sealed inside it, a piece of fur fabric.

For an older toddler you could put in the sort of things you have in your handbag. A bunch of keys, a notepad and pencil, an old purse with some old coins and play banknotes, a hairbrush or comb, a book they have not seen before.

Squirty Bottles

On a hot day there is nothing like playing about with water. Old, well cleaned, washing up liquid bottles or spray cleaner bottles are perfect for creating homemade toys. Fill them with water and let your toddler have fun. She can squirt and spray herself, and you if you’ll let her. You can also create targets for her to hit with the stream of water.

Kitchen Utensils

Have toddler level cupboard in your kitchen which is full safe, fun kitchen utensils. You can include plastic cups and boxes, pots and pans, wooden and metal spoons, old yoghurt pots, margarine tubs, plastic bottles, etc. This will keep a baby or toddler quiet for quite a long time and let you get on with the washing up in peace.

Pretend Cooking

Put down a large old plastic shower curtain or other plastic sheet.  Put a child sized table in the middle of it.  Then fill some toy bowls and plates with small amounts of cheap food products such as custard powder, gravy powder, lentils, rice, beans, etc.  Add a small bottle of water and some spoons and your child will have wonderful, messy time mixing and 'cooking'.  When they have finished, just scrape the results onto the plastic sheet and empty the sheet into the bin.  Give it wipe down and put away until the next cooking session.

Household chores

Children love to be included in what you are doing. Whenever you can, let your toddler join in with you when you are doing your housework. You can give him a cloth and let him wipe whatever he can reach in the bathroom. He will love to stand on a stool next to you at the sink and play with the bubbles while you are doing the washing up. He can help you put the washing in and take it out of the washing machine. You could even teach an older child how to press the right buttons to turn it on!

These are just a few ideas for homemade toys. Look around at what you have in your house. Watch what your toddler likes to do. Put the two together and you are sure to come up with many more cheap, easy and stressfree ways to keep your child busy and happy.

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