i’m pretty proud of us for not falling into the trap of buying 800 lbs of stuff to satisfy the needs of an 8 lb person (humble brag), but a baby gym was definitely on my bonus list (non-essential, but nice to have ready for bébé’s first days at home). but i really just couldn’t find a gym that was both affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and compact. as you know from the title of this blog, we are really limited for space. so not only do we not want to spend thousands on baby gear, we also don’t want it to infiltrate every room of the house. and, if the gear does end up in the kitchen or living room, it would be really nice if it was nice to look at. so yeah — baby gym: affordable, aesthetically pleasing, compact.
i felt like the leka baby gym from ikea was a pretty good option. it’s pretty attractive and only $30. i would need to hack it a bit — i’m not a fan of primary colours and there’s actually a lot going on with this gym. including hypnotic spirals. i’m a fan of like… less. plus, it’s hard to store in a house like ours (no closets, no extra floor space). if we had this, it would be out — just chilling, likely in our living room. it might even need to replace our coffee table, which would bum me out. okay, so, michael olaf sells some beautiful montessori-inspired toys, including baby gyms that fold, but they don’t come cheap. it’s like any renovation, really: you cannot have something fast, cheap, and good. you can have two of the three. our mudroom reno (still going on…) was cheap(ish) and good, but it certainly wasn’t fast.
so, i came to the conclusion i always come to: i would need to make my own. i had this idea for a teepee baby gym to 1) “go” with the nursery 2) fold when not in use 3) to later be used as an actual teepee. i found a great example over at beautiful undefined, and started to gather materials.
- three 48″ x 1″ wooden dowels
- three yards of suede leather cord
- one or two toys
- 220 grit sandpaper (optional)
- mineral oil (optional)
- paint (optional)
- three copper “feet” (optional)
- sand your dowels lightly and rub mineral oil on them to give them a more “finished” look
- dip one end of each dowel in paint. my dowels came with coloured tops (to indicate size) so i dipped them in a nursery paint colour (pink moiré) liberally and let the paint drip down and dry overnight.
- ram copper feet on the opposite end of each dowel.
- with the suede leather cord folded in half, gather the three dowels together and create a loop around the first dowel. wrap the cord around each dowel individually and then around all three together. tie tightly with double knots.
- both ends of the cord will hang down and you can use these to attach your toys. i made a feather “birdie” out of feathers leftover from my mobile diy and an elastic and bought a wooden bracelet from the craft store to use as a grasping toy.
that’s it! and you can adjust the height of the toys or switch the toys out as needed. and when bébé’s all done using this as a gym, draping some leftover fabric or a bed sheet over this bad boy will turn it into an instant fort.
best of all, this teepee gym folds up when not in use, so it’s only taking up space when it’s being played with. easy to carry from room to room or take with us if we’re visiting friends or family, too.