Introduction: Baby Play Gym

Are you trying to raise a baby without breaking the bank? You've probably seen several different baby play gym options at the local baby store ranging in price from $20 to $80. This instructable will show you how to make one out of readily available materials for about $5, not counting the toys you hang from it. You can make those too, of course!

Step 1: Materials

You will need the following

  • 8 feet of 1/2 inch diameter PVC pipe
  • 2 PVC "elbows" and 2 "T's"
  • 2 foam "fun noodle" pool toys. The flower shaped ones are good, but the standard round ones are OK too. Make sure they are *hollow.*
  • About a yard of ribbon

You can get the pipe from any home improvement store for a couple of bucks. Our local Dollar Trees carry the fun noodles this time of year, or your local big-box should have 'em for under $3.

You will also need the following tools:
  • Either a hacksaw and vice or strong assistant to hold the pipe
OR

Step 2: Cut the PVC Pipe and Foam

Using your tool of choice, cut the PVC pipe into the following lengths

  • 1 2 foot piece
  • 2 18 inch pieces
  • 4 9 inch pieces (if you are out of pipe, these could be 6 inches)

Using the serrated knife, cut the foam into the following lengths
  • 1 26 inch piece, with a 45 degree angle at each end such that the top of the piece is 26 inches and the bottom is 24.
  • 2 19 inch pieces, with one end cut at a 45 degree angle such that the outside edge is 19 inch and the inside edge is 18 inches
  • 4 10 inch pieces, with the bottom "petal" removed

There is admittedly some finesse (aka trial and error) in cutting the foam. This is especially true when it comes to hollowing out the ends of the long pieces to accommodate the elbow joints, which are of course a little more than 1/2 inch in diameter.

For the "foot" coverings, you'll need to cut a 2 inch or so slit into the top of the foam on one end so it can slide around the T joint and under the foam on the 18 inch riser. Make sure this is on the side of the foam where you did Not remove the extra petal, and that the cut does not go all the way through.

Step 3: Assemble

  • Slide the foam pieces onto the matching PVC pieces. This takes both some muscle and some finesse to avoid crushing your 45 degree angles.
  • Attach the two elbow joints to either end of the 2 ft cross piece.
  • Attach the 18 inch risers to each of the elbows
  • Attach the T joints to the bottom of the risers
  • Slide the four 9 inch "feet" into the ends of the T joints
  • Adjust the foam covering as necessary.
  • If desired, glue all joints and the foam. I didn't because I wanted to be able to disassemble the toy for storage.
  • Tie 3 or 4 lengths of ribbon around the cross-piece. If you are using the flower-shaped foam noodles it will be difficult to get the ribbon too tight, but make sure there's about a finger-width of space in your loop

Step 4: Complete

  • Hang several toys from the ribbon loops (using plastic links from the toy section at Target if the toys don't have clips built in.)
  • After testing all joints for stability, place the whole contraption on the floor over a blanket and add a small child to the mix. Congratulate yourself for making something just as good as the toy store and saving at least $15 in the bargain.

Comments

author
domestic_engineer made it! (author)2010-02-10

very clever. too bad my cat eats pool noodles.

author
webtarkeena made it! (author)2010-02-09

A note about the glue: Visiting 3 year olds found this toy amusing to take apart.  My son was also able to pull it down in pieces by the time he was 5 to 6 months old.  I put it away shortly thereafter.  But if your child is still interested or you have older kids in the house, glue would probably be a good idea! 

author
canida made it! (author)2010-02-09

This is a great idea!

author
ChrysN made it! (author)2009-06-27

That pool noodle is a great way to add padding, nice.

author
webtarkeena made it! (author)webtarkeena2009-06-27

Thank you :)

About This Instructable

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Bio: SAHM of two little ones. Simultaneously crafty and cheap - a dangerous combination indeed!
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