back to top

13 DIY Toy Ideas For Cash-Strapped, Short On Time, Parents

Does you kid beg for a new toy only to play with it for approximately three seconds before ditching it? Save yourself some time-and money-with these quick, easy, and best of all, cheap, DIY toy ideas.

Posted on

Play Kitchen from Ikea or Thrifted Furniture


Honestly, I never would have thought this was doable if I didn’t watch our friends whip up a killer version of one of these for their daughter. I might even break my stay away from Ikea for the rest of my life rule to make this quick and easy little table stove. I bet you could also turn this little table into an activity table. You could also give it top coat of chalkboard paint to make a drawing station.

See a huge list of tutorials and ideas here:

Glitter Jar

Facebook: video.php / Via

I feel relaxed just looking at this thing. Screw making it for my kid, I'll be making one, or five, for myself.


View this video on YouTube / Via Ventuno Art

An awesome toy for older kids - there are lots of tutorials available online. Little ones can help with the coloring part though staying inside the lines may feel a bit cumbersome.

Ribbon Blanket / Via

I don’t know about you, but I got at least six of these at my baby shower and had no idea what they were for – but once my kid hit 4 months, I got it. He totally digs them. This tutorial is easy and quick to follow, and if you’re a short cut taker like me, just hot glue or use iron on seams to put it together.

Rain Sticks

Tova Speter / Via

I promise, these are the only musical instrument/noise making toy on this list. They're happily, pretty quiet, and actually sound quite soothing. As a current parent and former nanny and preschool teacher, I solemnly swear not to help your kids make more noise.

Ribbon Dancers

Imgorthand / Getty Images / Via iStock

Did you dream of being a rhythmic gymnast in the summer Olympics? No, just me? Well, anyway, kids of all ages, will have fun whipping these around. There are lots of different approaches to making these, all of them easy and simple. Online tutorials are abundant. If you really want to save money, use a paint stirrer from the hardware store (they’re usually free) as the base. You may want to sand it or cover it with contact paper first.


View this video on YouTube

The toy that’s stood the test of time. You can make a lot with just a few ingredients from around the kitchen. There are loads of tutorials on YouTube for two ingredient play dough, no cook dough, gluten free dough - search away for what works for you.


Little Bins for Little Hands / Via

Ok, these aren’t really so much toys as they’re weirdly hilarious and fun things to smash when the weather is warm. You can hide just about anything inside of these and it’s likely that “big kids” would be happy to help make them too.

Kinetic Sand

View this video on YouTube

Full disclosure, this stuff freaks me out, but it’s so popular among my friend’s kids and with my nephews, that I looked up how to make it. I also like this tutorial because there's a bonus recipe for slime and random footage of adorable dogs.

Jumbo Building Blocks

The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide / Via

Do you have cereal boxes, snack food boxes, or random other boxes sitting in your recycling bin? Snag them, tape them shut, (you can stuff them with a plastic bag if you want), and have at it. If you want to get fancy, wrap them or cover them in contact paper, but it’s not a necessary step.

If you’re nervous, there’s tons of tutorials about how to make these all over the internet.

Felt Car Map

The Iowa Farmer's Wife / Via

Ok, I’ll be honest – this one is a little bit more labor intensive than the others, but given that these little car maps retail for 35$ and up, it’s worth an hour or two with a glue gun (a shortcut for us non sewers). When my kid hits the cars phase I may actually make a version of this using some of our old band tshirts. We’ll see, maybe it will end up a Pinterest fail.

This post was created by a member of BuzzFeed Community, where anyone can post awesome lists and creations. Learn more or post your buzz!