Sunday, February 20, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Button Rattle Baby Toy

 When my #1 got interested in my keys, I made my first version of this, with a rattling whistle, a jingle bell and beads of different shapes and sizes.  With similar appeal to (but less germs than) my keys, this was my substitute.  

Also, #1 didn't get her fine motor skills as fast as some babies, so it was hard for her to hold many rattles.  This toy is much lighter than many store-bought toys, and the string construction makes it easy for babies like her, with less-developed fine motor skills, to grasp.  It was her favorite toy for a couple of months - one of my proudest crafting moments.  :)

Nylon string
3 large plastic buttons
One coated jingle bell (the original toy with a regular metal bell got rusty from all the drool)
Assorted beads (consider staying away from wood, as it may splinter with heavy chewing)

Cut a length of nylon string about 5 times the length you want your finished toy to be, plus a little extra just in case.  Thread the first button on the string (I used the spit method, but if your holes are big enough you could use a needle) and position it about 2/5 of the way down the string.

Start tying knots in the string, friendship bracelet style.  (I pulled out the colored yarn to demonstrate, in case you never happened to make one of these in your childhood.)
If you have strings A (pink) and B (brown), hold string A taut and knot string B around it.  Pull tight.

Then hold string B taut and knot string A around it.  Pull tight.  Easy peasy!  It makes a bumpy string that feels good for baby to gum.

Continue to knot for about an inch.

Thread the next button onto the long end of the string.  Position it about 3 inches away from the first button. 

Knot the long string with the string between the two buttons, until you reach the knots from the first button.

Then thread the third button onto the long string, about 2.5 inches away from the second button.  Knot the long string with the string between the two buttons, until you reach the knots from the second button.  (The easiest way to do it is not to try to get both buttons through for a knot, but to wrap the long string around, then pull it tight to switch the knot to the other string.  See pictures.)

You will end up with this:


Knot the two strings together for about 1 inch.  Thread a bead on the string and knot the other string around it.

Continue on in this fashion with beads and the jingle bell until you have the length you want.  Keep the beads pretty close together for more visual interest.

When you are done, hold the two strings together and knot twice.  Pull it tight.  I mean really tight.  Maybe get someone stronger than you to pull it tight.  You don't want your toy unraveling, since these beads by themselves are a choking hazard.  If your string is like mine, three ply twisted, leave a little tail and unravel.  Fringe makes a nice finish, and my babies, at least, love the taste of fringe.  :)

Give it to baby, and she will shake and chew! 

©2011 Alli Hyer, all rights reserved.  You may sell items you make with this tutorial, but if you sell them online, you must link to this pattern.  You may not sell this tutorial or claim it as your own.  You may publish or post a link to this tutorial, but you may not publish or post this tutorial in whole or in part.


  1. Newly found your site - BRILLIANT project!!!!! Glad to be on board!!!!

  2. What kind of coating did you use for the bell? I LOVE THIS IDEA!!!

  3. I bought white jingle bells. :)

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