Top advice on getting free toys? Have as much as possible handed down. Not the case? Then upcycle house items into sensory toys.

Sensory bottles, sensory pads, bins with loose parts make great toys. They’re easy to make, keep toddlers busy for hours, and satisfy their curiosity.

Looking for free sensory toys to throw at your little ones? There are several ways to get them, even if you’re not an influencer mom.

Below we will tell about 6 fun & free toddler toys and playthings that anyone can make in less than 5 minutes from home items.

What’s even better? They all sustainable and biodegradable. 

Save this Pinterest board for our favorite homemade sensory toys ideas.


Why we all need some free toddler toys

Babies are costly, yes. As soon as we get our brand new shiny human, we start spending astronomic sums. Tiny clothes, nursery decor, singing mobiles, cribs, air purifiers, nursing pillows, cocoons, white noise generators, diapers of all kinds, eco detergents, car seats. It snowballs really fast. 

All they want is love

But have you ever thought that aside from the musts, such as healthcare and car seats, babies actually are not that needy? What’s marvelous about them is they’re not teenagers yet. They’re not actually in a need of phones for hundreds of dollars, nor school shoes.

What toddlers want most is a) quality time with caregiver and b) any toy

You know how they can spend hours with a rag, putting it on and off their head. Or with a couple of spoons, clanking them and beating everything around. This is a blissful skill from the toddlers we all should adopt. They amuse themselves with any small stuff that can get to their hands. 

If you’re not feeling like going anywhere, but still eager to give your baby a new stimulus, we got you. See below the list of free quick distractions for babies and toddlers. These sensory toys can be whipped in less than 5 minutes from household goods & recyclables you already have. 


1) Paper Ball

An amazing century-old trick that all teachers know. If you lack a ball for the learning game, you can make one from paper in a blink of an eye! 

How to make: grab some used paper. A newspaper, coloring pages, or an old magazine will do just fine. Crumple it into a ball shape. Now generously use paper scotch tape all over to fix it. Voila – you got your lovely ball for zero dollars. 

This ball is just as fun to hold and to throw, and it won’t roll far away – which is rather a pro when a toddler is playing with it. It is also easy to hold, fun to press. Highly prone to tearing apart, such toy can be of great fun for your baby and for no worries at all for you. Just toss it away afterwards.

2) Water Tub

Water play is extremely funny and costs nothing.

How to make: get a tub of water – fill it for just a couple inches to minimize the damage. Now let your little one play with it, throwing in some floatable stuff like these wine corks you were saving for the project like this one. Mix them with some sinkable stuff like beans or stones.

You will need to keep an eye on this play, of course, but if you just put it in your kitchen while you’re busy cooking or blogging, it will be just fine. Keeps a baby busy for an hour or so. 

3) Spaghetti

Babies love the sensory play with the masses of multiple similar things. They can get totally mesmerized by a bucket of wine corks, or handfuls of coins, or bunches of spaghetti.

How to make: you can cook and dye them, of course. I don’t. If you’re like me, give your toddler a handful of spaghetti and let them get creative.

They can load toy cars with spaghetti, make abstract sculptures of spaghetti and play-doh, or just enjoy a hypnotizing experience of snapping each long piece into eight small. (Will need some cleaning afterward, like just any toddler activity.)

4) Large Paper

I was gift-packing and my 7-month old was lying on matress nearby, so I playfully threw a sheet of light craft paper over him. He was just blown away. For at least half an hour we were playing peekaboo and laughing like never before. He would kick and push this paper hard, laughing louder and louder at the crinkling sounds. He was tearing it, and tossing, and taking the paper on and off his head. 

How to make: gently cover your kid with a sheet of lightweight paper. Show how it can be blown up from their face, kicked, and torn. For extra points, give your little one a sheet of leftover wrapping paper from Christmas, and throw a festive photo session. It hardly gets any better than this.

5) Sensory Baskets

Sensory baskets are great quick solution when scrambling for activity. Impress your little one with free toddler toys every day by just pulling together your household trinkets. 

How to make: get a bowl or basket, and put there 

  • pine cone
  • shell from that seaside trip
  • piece of lace
  • gift you never liked
  • unframed photos 
  • rock
  • spatula 
  • kitchen timer
  • a couple of fridge magnets

Good job! You have made a nice sensory activity for your baby that will keep her amused for at least half an hour. Tomorrow you can get a new one, as it only takes 5 minutes to whip it up. 

Now you're nailing this parenting stuff!

5+) Cardboard Box

Cardboard boxes are made for cats and babies.

How to make: get a box size of your toddler, and put him or her inside. You can cut out some windows beforehand if you feel like it, but basically you don’t need to do anything else. Throw in some crayons, toy cars, or the plush toys to give their imagination a little kickstart.

Then you can just relax and sip your coffee while the box will be squeaking, moving, rattling, and living a life of its own. 

See several examples of what a simple cardboard box can become:

What other toys do babies need?

Several great quality toys, made with love, can be the staples for the amazing, long-lasting playroom. After setting this base, just throw fun materials at your toddler. Corks, colored paper, tin cans, cardboard boxes work great with very little guidance. You will be amazed at how creative kids can get when left to their own devices. 

Never forget what your child needs the most

It’s your love, affection, and engagement. Get on your baby’s level and spend some time there – and you will see that the most common stuff from around your house is magical and all-new to them. Explore it together. 

Cart (0)

No products in the cart. No products in the cart.