Young children don’t necessarily have the tools to calm their anxiety, or to fulfill their own sensory needs. One of my goals as a mom is to be in tune with my son’s needs and help him find those solutions. This DIY sensory toy is more of a calming tool then entertainment. It’s a weighted toy with multisensory aspects, and M LOVES it. It has really helped, and the fact that it’s portable helps us on-the-go as well. I’m working on another calming tool for at home, but for now, this fun sensory toy helps M wherever we are. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, therapist or expert of any sort. Always consult with your pediatrician if you have concerns regarding your child, and listen to your doctor’s advice over anything you read on blogs. I am simply a mom sharing solutions that work for me and my family.
Children have different needs – and whether they have been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder or not, they can have sensory needs that need to be addressed. While we are still working out what M is going through, I am finding the tools to help him calm down and to provide sensory input in productive ways.
I made this fun DIY sensory toy after finally getting my sewing machine rigged up, and figuring out that I need to lower the foot in order for it to sew properly…
Yup, I’m still re-learning old skills, so if you are new to sewing, don’t get your technique from me! I’m here to share with you the process and inspiration…
I first created a simple bean bag – a weighted sack that’s probably a few times the size of a typical bean bag, so that it actually has weight. I made these on a whim and didn’t order supplies for them, so I used rice (as in – they’re not washable.)
Since, I’ve ordered a bag of Polypropylene Pellets for my next project I hope to work on. I’d definitely recommend going with those, as M has already gotten peanut butter on one of these sensory toys! Hurray for baby wipes! These types of toys get heavy use and you do want them to be washable.
I went on and created a second DIY sensory toy, this one with a little more to explore/fidget with. Of course, the moment I finished, I had a zillion more ideas with what I could have done with it, but for now, M loves his little truck.
He likes to feel the ribbons in different textures, with his hands and his mouth. I scented one with orange essential oil and one with peppermint. I would have done lavender for its calming effects, but as I mentioned this was unplanned and I’m out of that… On the truck sensory toy, I sewed the buttons and pompoms on the front and back to each other, so he can guide the filling through the narrow channel it creates.
On the truck version of the DIY sensory toy, I also added a ribbon folded in half so that it forms a wristband. The buttons and pompoms form wheels and headlights. And finally, both of these are made using two fabrics – a thin cotton on one side and a cozy fleece on the other.
What you need to make a DIY sensory toy:
- Two scraps of fabric (mine were about 6×12 inches), including fleece for a cozy back
- Assorted ribbons, buttons, pom poms
- Polypropylene pellets, rice, or some other filler (I highly recommend using the pellets)
- A sewing machine and thread
- A funnel
- Fabric scissors
- Straight pins
- A needle and thread
- Essential oils
How to make a DIY sensory toy
1. Place your pieces of fabric one on top of the other with the right sides facing each other.
2. Feel free to cut it into a shape if you’d like. To make a truck, cut out a triangle as pictured. Leave plenty of seam allowance.
3. Cut an assortment of ribbons in various textures – a perfect scrapbuster!
4. Place your ribbons between the two layers of fabric, arranging them how you’d like them to be, and making sure they line up with the edge of the fabric.
5. Pin the ribbons in place, securing both layers of fabric as well. Do this with all your ribbons.
6. Start sewing about one inch or so into one side of your fabric. Make sure to leave enough space open to flip your DIY sensory toy the right way.
7. When you get to the corner, raise the foot, turn the fabric, and continue sewing.
8. Keep on sewing, leaving about in inch open on the last side, so that you have an open corner to turn your piece inside out.
It should look something like this:
9. Turn your fabric the right way, and trim your ribbons to the desired size. Play around a little – cut a notch, fray an edge…
10. Sew on your embellishments. Sew on two wheels using four buttons, back to back.
Sew on pompom headlights if you want…
11. Fill your DIY sensory toy with a weighted material. You can use small glass beads, rice, or polypropylene pellets (my recommendation). A funnel can really help at this point.
12. Tuck the corner in and arrange it how you like it. I added a strap at this point – a piece of ribbon folded over so that the open ends are sewn in and the fold is on the outside. Pin it in place.
13. Hand sew the open part closed.Make sure it’s totally closed – I missed a spot, had some filler shedding, and had to go back and finish it off.
Your DIY sensory toy is complete! These jumbo beanbags offer so many opportunities for sensory input – your child will love it!
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