It’s an airplane, it’s part of a maze … no, wait, it’s a tug toy. Actually, it’s all of these things — and more. The most amazing baby toy ever invented is a plain ol’ cardboard box! Our guess is that you’ve got one or two of these lying around, so we’ve picked our favorite ways to utilize this seriously awesome (and thrifty) crafting material.

Touch and Feel Board
If you’re looking for ways to use the box that just won’t cut it as a house/spaceship/boat anymore, check out this awesome idea from Happily Ever Mom. Grab a piece of the box, cut out some holes, and add textured stuff like carpet, beads and sandpaper. Then, in a flash, you have a sensory board. Get all the info from blogger mom Katie Joiner here.

photo: Katie Joiner via happilyevermom

DIY Tugging Box
You know a box of tissues plus a baby equals a major cleanup job? Instead, create a tugging box for your little one — take away the mess and leave all the fun. Select a favorite style and design of ribbon, add a pipe cleaner or two, poke some holes and watch your curious crawler tug away. Find out how to make your own by checking out a great tutorial by craftmaster Kate at Laughing Kids Learn.

photo: Kate via laughingkidslearn

The Mystery Box
It’s a surprise every time with the mystery box. Have a theme like music, farm animals or dinosaurs, or just fill it with favorite things. With no construction or other materials needed, this could be the easiest (and definitely one of the most rewarding) ways to play with a box. Need ideas on what to put in? Grab suggestions here from Deborah of Learn with Play at Home.

photo: Deborah via learnwithplayathome

Hole in a Box
It’s like a baby version of skeeball. Plugging balls into holes is so easy and it never gets old. This DIY version has upped the ante with an added ramp. Watch the balls roll down into the basket for hours (okay, maybe 20 minutes) of baby entertainment. Find out more about this awesome box play created by in-home daycare owner Amy Ahola at Child Central Station.

photo: Amy Ahola via childcentralstation

Fiber-Optic Box
Leave it to Anna of The Imagination Tree to come up with such a clever way to use a cardboard box in baby play. This fibre-optic sensory cave is so awesome, any older kids at home are going to want to have a go. She uses actual fibre-optic lights but the same effect could be created with a strand of holiday lights. Find out how the rest of the project is completed by clicking here.

photo: Anna via theimaginationtree

Cardboard Maze
A little Labyrinth action, anyone? The Goblin King probably won’t show up (sorry Bowie fans) but watching your crawler wind her way through a maze of boxes is a fabulous way to spend the day. Decide between buying clips or just use duct tape to connect the sides together. Start saving those Amazon delivery boxes now — it’s going to take quite a few to create a massive maze like the mom at Living Green With Baby.

photo: courtesy livinggreenwithbaby

Trains, Planes and Automobiles
Any type of transportation, your standard cardboard box has got you covered. Make it a train, plane, or even a spaceship, just depends on your kiddo’s preferred method of imaginary travel! Parents Brianne and Sean Walker did it all for their son Reid’s first birthday. Get the info on how to make your own. Tip: Having extra hands on deck is a big help!

photo: Sean Walker via seanwalkerphotography

Posting Box
In and out, in and out. Posting games are probably right up there with peekaboo, and this super simple DIY version is thrifty fun. Grab a tissue box, create a slot and let baby play! They’ll learn all kinds of cool stuff, and even get a motor skills workout. Get the how-to from Debs at Learn With Play at Home.

photo: Deborah via learnwithplayathome

What’s your favorite way to use a cardboard box? Share with us in the comments.

— Gabby Cullen

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