Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Handmade Teething Toys (a tutorial)

EDIT: There is some debate over the safety of using mineral oil on wooden toys for children.  You can read about the concern  here.  Pharmaceutical-grade mineral oil is generally accepted as an inexpensive and safe method for sealing wood.  If you are interested in sealing wooden toys with an alternative, here's a list of alternatives to consider.   Thanks to Ann-Marie for asking about the oil :)  Happy crafting!

EDIT #2 - I have since started using flax oil.  It works fine!

It's no secret that I love making things for my kiddos.  A lot of what I make for them is meant to be lovely to look at as well as useful.  And if it's a simple project, all the better!  That's what these teething toys are - cute, useful (just ask my little guy who's working on two front teeth!) and simple.  This was another one of those projects that I completed with materials I had on hand.  I don't know why I had wooden beads and rings, I just did.  Let's say my craft room is "well stocked" and leave it at that ;)

Honestly, these teething toys are so simple, they hardly need a tutorial.  Even if you have very basic sewing skills, you can probably look at the pictures and figure them out.  But if you want a little more guidance for crafting these toys it's my pleasure to assist you!  

In addition to a sewing machine and basic notions, for the Beaded Teething Toy you will need:

3 1/2" x 20" strip of fabric (pre-washed and dried)
scotch tape 
3 natural wood beads (1"  diameter)
mineral oil (to seal the wood)
toy stuffing (I used poly-fil I had on hand)

Sorry for the yellowish photography... I don't know what happened. 
 1. Use a soft towel to rub a dab of mineral oil into the wooden beads.  Allow to dry.

2. Fold the strip of fabric in half lengthwise right sides together, and press.

3. Leaving a 1/2" seam, sew down the long side of the fabric, turning at the bottom and closing up one end of the strip.  (You now have a tube with one open end and one closed end.)

4. Turn the tube right side out.

5. Tie a knot at the bottom (the closed end)

6. At the open end, cut as shown.  Wind a 2 to 3 inch piece of tape around the tip to create a "needle" to thread through the beads.

7. Thread the first bead.

8. It's time to add a bit of stuffing.  If you can add it with the tape still on, that's great, but if not, then cut off the taped portion.  You will still have enough fabric to complete the teether.

8. Use a pencil eraser or other tool to push the stuffing down to the bead and create a puff.  (I think I used about a golf ball size amount of stuffing.

9. Repeat steps 6 - 8.  Add the final bead.  Tie a knot directly above the bead.  

10.  Cut off excess fabric, leaving about 1 1/2 inches.  Fold in the ends, press, and sew shut. 


On to the next one.  (see how easy this is!)

For the Wood and Terry Cloth Teething Toy you will need:

4" x 18 " strips of desired fabric, lightweight fusible interfacing, and terry cloth (I used an old bath towel.  It was old and un-needed, but it was thick and in good condition)
unfinished wooden ring (3 inch diameter) 
mineral oil
paper to create a simple pattern 

1. Use a soft cloth to rub a dab of mineral oil into the wooden ring.  Allow to dry.

2. Create a simple pattern on patter.  Should be about 15 inches long.  Make the 5 inches in the center narrower than the ends, about 2 inches wide.  I made two patterns, one with rounded ends, and one with squared ends. (both are pictured in this tutorial) I preferred the squared-off ends, but it's a matter of taste.  Experiment!  Cut out your paper patter.

rounded ends

squared ends
3. Iron fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric.

4. Using a pen or marker, trace the pattern onto the interfacing.  As you can see, neatness and accuracy are not important :)  It's just for a baby to chew on after all!  

5. Put the terry cloth and fabric right sides together.  Pin inside the drawn pattern line.  

6.  Sew along the pattern line leaving a three inch opening for turning.  

7. Cut the fabric and terry cloth a 1/2 inch out from the line you sewed, leaving more  like 3/4 inch at the opening.

8. Turn right side out and press.  Fold the opening in and press to match the shape of the "bunny ears."  Pin the opening closed.

9. Top stitch around the entire piece.  Be sure to sew the opening shut.

10. Place on top of the wooden ring like this:

11. Feed one "ear" in like this:

Do the same with the other side.  Pull and tug and pull until it looks the way you want it or like this in the front:

and this in the back:

You're done!  One of the nice things about this teether is that the fabric stays pretty well in place until it gets yucky and worn, and then you can take it off and toss it in the wash :)  Why, you could even make two of the fabric/terry cloth pieces to have a spare while one is in the wash!  Convenience and variety!  

Wouldn't these be a lovely addition to a baby shower gift?  My little James likes sinking his gums into these goodies, and I think your special little ones will too!  

If you try your hand at one or both (!) of these simple teethers I'd love to hear about it!  If you have any questions, please head to the com box!  I'll get back to you.

And as always, if you Pin it or blog about it, please link back to here!  Thanks!


  1. What's the purpose of the mineral oil?

    1. Oils seal the wood and help prevent bacteria growth in the wood. I'm glad you asked though, b/c there is some "debate" over the safety of mineral oil when used on toys for young children. I will edit some additional at the top of the post. Thanks, Ann-Marie!

  2. OMG, now I HAVE to learn to sew!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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