May 14, 2015

Subtle, Non Obnoxious Baby Gym DIY

Ugh, baby stuff! Often its plastic, brightly colored, and obnoxious.  I promised myself I'd try not to bring much obnoxious baby crap into my house when I got pregnant. We didn't register for an activity center or baby gym thinking they were superfluous and our baby would never find those types of things especially amusing. Well, after watching Charlie the last few weeks I could see some value in a baby gym. He enjoyed when we held toys over him for him to swat at and pull and touch. But holding a toy over your child for long portions of time just didn't seem like an effective use of my time, although I'm sure it would eventually build up some nice arm muscles.

I got on Pinterest and started searching for attractive do-it-yourself baby gyms. There were several options and they looked easy enough to do myself. It was easy, in fact. It only took maybe an hour or two of work. Tops.

Supplies you'll need: 

  • 5 24" long dowel rods  (I purchased 2 longer rods and sawed them down in the store.)
  • 2 PVC 3-way connectors
  • 4 PVC caps (optional)
  • Sand paper
  • Toys to hang

The hardest part was finding the right PVC connector pipe. Below is what I ended up purchasing. I wish that the angles for the legs were a bit closer together, but this was all my small Home Depot offered.

Regular sized home improvement stores might have a larger selection. I don't know.  I had to run to the small Home Depot close to me while Charlie was napping. Sacrifice.

I went to the dowel rod section after finding the connector and chose dowels that fit the PVC. I can't remember what they were now. But the center dowel is slightly skinnier than the legs. I sawed the dowels down right there on the same aisle. Okay, so I started to saw them down and then a sweet Latino customer felt pity on me and offered to do it for me. He was quick and a much better sawer (saw-person?) than I am. Thank you, kind stranger!

Back at home I spray painted my PVC pieces gold so that they wouldn't look PVC-y. I also sanded down the ends of the dowel rods and put some masking tape on each end to help it connect better with the PVC. (I had read this on several other blogs, and I found it was necessary in my case as well.) I also used some Liquid Nails to keep the caps secure.

And here's my finished project! I couldn't decide if I wanted to use fabric or ribbon to hang the toys. Initially I used some scrap fabric velcroed at the ends. But this did not work. I ended up purchasing some plastic clips from Target for this sort of purpose. I think they were about $3.50 for a big pack.

Action shot!

Charlie loves his new toy. I picked up a few more toys to dangle in front of him from Target. What I love about this "gym" is that I can change it around whenever he gets bored. Adding and subtracting toys as he grows and changes. Also, it's not hideous. And it packs away pretty minimally when we need it out of the way.

Overall I spent about $25. Basic gyms are around that cost, so it's not like I saved a ton of money, but I'm pleased with it aesthetically and that I was able to make it myself. I have a feeling I'll be making more toys for Charlie as he grows older!

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