It was my turn to make dinner for a friend who’d just had her first baby. As I packed up an easy meal with homemade French bread, cashew cheese, basil dipping oil, roasted red pepper spread, and fresh pineapple, my six-year-old kiddo watched me, then announced, “I want to make a present for the baby!”
We do a lot of handmade gifts around here, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time brainstorming what kinds of things my little kids can actually make, and that someone else would actually want. We have, by now, a go-to list of good presents that my kiddos can make for their friends, and good presents that they can make for the beloved adults in their lives, too.
But a baby? A baby’s gift is something else entirely. It has to be safe, primarily, and something that a baby could actually use.
My kiddo and I thought about a lot of things that she could make with my help- a simple stuffed animal, a decorated baby hat, etc. but with an hour to go and me already busy making my own family’s dinner, we settled on a quick, cute, and quite serviceable toy that my child has made by herself, and loved immensely, many times before: a plastic juice bottle shaker.
To make a shaker of your own, you will need:
- Plastic juice bottle. Older kids will enjoy and be able to use a wide variety of juice bottles, but to make this a working baby rattle, my child used a small apple juice bottle, well rinsed and completely dry. This particular bottle has a relatively long and narrow neck and a round body, which I think makes it especially suitable for the grasp of a small fist.
- Beans. My child used an assortment of kidney beans, great Northern beans, and red lentils. Any beans, of course, would look gorgeous in this clear shaker, as would dried rice, marbles, pebbles, or beads.
- Strong glue. E6000 or similar.
1. Double-check that your juice bottle is plastic. The last thing that you need is to teach your kid that move in which she breaks a bottle on the edge of the bar and then menaces people with it. She has plenty of time to learn those strategies on her own.
2. Double-check that your juice bottle is clean and dry. The other last thing that you need is to watch your nice beans and rice moldering away right before your eyes inside that bottle.
3. Put a judicious amount of shaker filling into the bottle. Definitely don’t fill the bottle more than one-quarter full, and really you just need to cover the bottom. It’ll shake louder and be less heavy, especially for a small one, if it’s mostly empty.
4. Squeeze glue all around the outside of the bottle opening and the inside of the bottle cap, then screw the cap on. Wipe away any glue that seeps out from under the cap’s edge.
A present like this, along with a note in your child’s handwriting, will wow any new mom, even if you don’t include homemade French bread.