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Paint an Unfinished Toy Doll Cradle

Updated on January 25, 2018
RTalloni profile image

Robertatalloni means creativity. Whether in writing or in more typical art forms, artistry (and a bit of fun) must be part of the work.

Paint a toy doll cradle in colors as bright as a little girl's imagination!
Paint a toy doll cradle in colors as bright as a little girl's imagination! | Source

Doll Cradles for Little Girls

Even tiny girls enjoy having their own doll babies to play with in their make believe games. Adding a one-of-a-kind doll cradle to the mix enriches the experience they have when playing with their dolls. By copying their mommies' behaviors they can learn skills and concepts that help them grow up with confidence.

The cradle needs to be age appropriate, however. My first hub on painting a doll cradle includes an example of how to build a wood cradle for a toddler’s play time. It's not too tipsy and it rocks just enough. It is stable so it can also be turned over and used as a little bench.

The directions for making it are easy, only requiring simple supplies and a few tools (learn how in Build and Paint a Toy Cradle) but you’ll see some unfinished doll cradles for sale below. Either way, creating a painted design especially for a little girl you love is delightful stuff.

My husband’s pattern gave me plentiful surfaces to splish-splash my paint on and thinking about the smiles our granddaughters would have as they opened their birthday presents was quite motivating. Happy colors in artful designs made for a fun-to-paint project. Hope you enjoy seeing the process of this second one!

PrIme that baby doll cradle!
PrIme that baby doll cradle! | Source

Painting a Toy Doll Cradle

First, always consider safety issues, especially if you are working with or around children. Tool manufacturers, extension service programs, and even project supply stores offer information about being safe when building with wood and painting it.

To begin panting a wood project, a smooth surface is needed. A solid sanding of the raw piece to round off any sharp corners is important, then a light sanding will give a good surface for primer. After primer is applied, another light sanding provides a fine finish for applying paint.

Primer shouldn't be skipped. Bare wood needs to be primed to prevent any resins it contains from bleeding through your paint job and to prevent paint from sinking into the wood as the grain rises over time, ruining your design's effect.

Not priming results in a subpar finished project that will have to be refinished before long. I have had great success using products like Glidden brand's Gripper primer, as well as Kilz and Valspar primers. However, it's amazing to see the new products now on the market. You might like to do some research on them before starting your project.

Though getting to the pleasurable part of painting is a process, making sure the preparation for it is sound means that the piece will last. Sanding and priming are important steps and care should be given to doing them. Once they are complete, the fun starts!

Talking Primers...

Follow the Pictures to See this Project from Start to Finish:

After putting two coats of a pale green acrylic on the cradle it needed one more light sanding for a nice smooth finish, see photo 1 below.

Painting a Toy Doll Cradle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color.2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases.3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design.4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils.5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely.6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color.7.  Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals.8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots.9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well.  10. Large flowers for the outside ends.11.  Smaller flowers for the inside ends.12.  Bright white makes a good base for big flowers.13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers!14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom.15. Details of the ends'  flowers.16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension.17.  Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth.18. Glaze softens sharp colors.19. Don't add too many layers of glaze!20.  This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination!
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color.
1. Paint the primed cradle a base color. | Source
2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases.
2. Cut strips of paper as a guide for vine bases. | Source
3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design.
3. Add tendrils and leaves to the basic vine design. | Source
4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils.
4. Use a darker green to add a few more vining tendrils. | Source
5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely.
5. Begin filling in flower colors, planning carefully so that they look random but are laid out nicely. | Source
6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color.
6. Finish the basic flowers with a complimentary color. | Source
7.  Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals.
7. Use white and/or pale colors to add flower centers and highlight the petals. | Source
8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots.
8. Use a pop of color to outline the flowers and highlight the vining designs with dots. | Source
9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well.
9. A different angle of finished sides, but colors do not show real well. | Source
10. Large flowers for the outside ends.
10. Large flowers for the outside ends. | Source
11.  Smaller flowers for the inside ends.
11. Smaller flowers for the inside ends. | Source
12.  Bright white makes a good base for big flowers.
12. Bright white makes a good base for big flowers. | Source
13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers!
13. Bold colors from the sides' design pop the end flowers! | Source
14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom.
14. Highlight the basic flower with coordinating colors and add a rocker design across the bottom. | Source
15. Details of the ends'  flowers.
15. Details of the ends' flowers. | Source
16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension.
16. Highlighting the flowers with colors from the sides gives them dimension. | Source
17.  Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth.
17. Layering white glaze on the cradle adds depth. | Source
18. Glaze softens sharp colors.
18. Glaze softens sharp colors. | Source
19. Don't add too many layers of glaze!
19. Don't add too many layers of glaze! | Source
20.  This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination!
20. This butterfly is as colorful as our granddaughter's imagination! | Source

By the time the cradle is ready for painting, the design and colors should be settled. I chose simple elements with bright colors for this one.

Cutting edges of paper strips (a great use for junk mail) into varying curves (see photo 2) to use as a guide for evenly spaced, shapely lines was an easy way to make bases for flowering vines.

Free handing the drawing and painting of tendrils, leaves and flowers was simple work as shown in progressive photos 3-9.

While the vine design on the cradle's sides dried, I measured and cut out 2 paper flowers--one large size for the outside ends, and one slightly smaller size for the inside ends.

Making sure to turn the patterns as I outlined them onto the ends so that each drawn flower was in a different position, I did not outline them exactly, but only used the pattern as a guide to help me size the flowers. Rotating the patterns also helped give a random look to the design.

Once the flower's outlines were on I filled them in with a glossy white base color. Then I use the primary colors from the sides to paint inside the white bases, leaving a bit of white around the edges--see photos 10-13.

Photograph 14 shows the highlights created with coordinating colors, as well as the rocker design across the bottom edge of the ends. Note the same details in pictures 15 and 16.

Sponging on layers of white glaze gave dimension to the painted design--see photos 17-19.

I then added a surprise to the bottom. See photograph 20 for the brightest butterfly ever!

Once the glaze dried (always follow manufacturers' instructions) a clear polyurethane was applied in several coats to give the cradle a hard protective finish and that's all there was to it!


Getting that butterfly ready to fly was a process!
Getting that butterfly ready to fly was a process! | Source

Getting the Gift Ready for a Tiny Girl


I had high hopes that the little girl this cradle was intended for would find it intact on its arrival. Complete with a hand made blanket, pillow and pad under a smiling baby, I tucked bubble wrap around the doll and then wrapped the cradle's center with plastic wrap. Birthday paper around the whole was a trick, but doable in small pieces.

After reinforcing the box it was to be mailed in we taped it up and sent it to Alaska with a prayer for safe passage. Sound like a lot of trouble? I promise you, it was worth it. Video Chat allowed us to see her initial response and there are no words for the delight it gave us.

All the toys in all the toy stores in the world could not have replaced the scene that unfolded before us as she pulled back the blanket and reached in for the doll, then set up the cradle in her bedroom so she could put her new doll to sleep. While we do purchase gifts for our grandchildren, buying toys definitely is not all it's cracked up to be!

Have you ever made toys for little ones in your family?

See results

Unfinished Doll Cradles


Unfinished doll cradles are available in a wide variety of styles and prices. The Little Colorado is a stye that would work well with the particular paint design demonstrated in this hub. Its solid features would make the process easy for any crafter and be a safe choice for children. Your little one will have hours of fun snuggling a favorite doll into the one you produce for her playtimes.

More Creative Projects:

Felt Finger Puppets aren't just for Valentine's Day!

• Bright fabric sewn into a child's pillowcase gives sweet dreams!

• Baby blanket edgings crocheted with style.

Do you think you will ever paint a doll's cradle?

Submit a Comment

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 months ago from the short journey

    Penny Sebring:

    Thanks kindly for your response to this fun customized project. The girls did like theirs very much.

  • Penny Sebring profile image

    Penny Sebring 

    6 months ago from Fort Collins

    Nicely broken down and simple to read. I love the final product and it sounds like its a hit with the little ones as well!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    8 months ago from the short journey

    Kari Poulsen:

    Thank you so much for sharing this from your experience! It's such a simple project, really, but oh the memories it makes for a lifetime. So glad you have such precious ones for your family.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    8 months ago from the short journey

    Peggy Woods:

    Thanks so much for letting me know that you enjoyed seeing this cradle. They were a lot of fun to design and make for our grands, partly because the design we came up with was easy. :)

  • k@ri profile image

    Kari Poulsen 

    8 months ago from Ohio

    I can imagine your grandchild's response because my Mom actually did this for my daughter when she was 2. She made a pillow and even quilted a blanket. My daughter loved the cradle more than any other toy. It was stable enough that she would climb in with her feet sticking out the end. Thanks so much for bringing that memory back to the forefront of my mind. I would recommend this for anyone with a toddler. :)

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    8 months ago from Houston, Texas

    What a cute little doll cradle you embellished with your painting. That was undoubtedly a much enjoyed gift matched with the doll you also made. That butterfly was so colorful and cute! Your advice about priming was spot on!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    3 years ago from the short journey

    sgbrown:

    Thank you for letting me know that this is something your daughter might be interested in. Would love to know what she thinks of the tutorial and how your little granddaughter uses it. :)

  • sgbrown profile image

    Sheila Brown 

    3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

    I am not much of a crafty person, but my daughter is and her little 3 year old is just the right age for this. I love the idea of being able to make it a bench too! I will share this with her, thank you!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    3 years ago from the short journey

    ezzly:

    Thank you!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    3 years ago from the short journey

    peachpurple:

    Thanks for letting me know you like this project. This, and the other one, were fun to make and build.

  • ezzly profile image

    ezzly 

    3 years ago

    That is so cute, love it !

  • peachpurple profile image

    peachy 

    3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

    that is an awesome and beautiful cradle!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    Tolovaj:

    Thanks very much for your feedback on this toy cradle hub. Toys for grownups--what's the problem? :)

    Summertime is the best time to make some great toys for gift giving during the holidays. A little planning, a little craftiness, and the little ones in our families can have toys that could be passed down for generations. They'll get plenty of plastic lights that buzz and ring and make techno sounds, but how often do they get something worth having made by loving hands?

  • Tolovaj profile image

    Tolovaj 

    4 years ago

    Nothing is more satisfactory than DIY projects and toys are no exception. I know people without kids who make the (for themselves of course, but sshhh, don't tell anybody!) ... Lovely cradle! Thanks for the instructions. Maybe I'll ind some free time in summer to make something similar.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    moonlake:

    It would be great to see the doll's chifforobe highlighted in a hub. I would love to have an idea of how he made them! How did you paint them?

    Thanks much for all your feedback on this wood project.

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 

    4 years ago from America

    Very cute. My husband made our little granddaughters chifforobe for their doll clothes and I painted them. Voted up

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    Suzanne Day:

    So appreciate that you checked this project out and left your comment.

    Because some people like to read directions and others prefer working from visual examples (and some like both) I try to include plenty of photos in my craft hubs. Most of all, I try to enjoy designing and creating the projects for others! :)

  • Suzanne Day profile image

    Suzanne Day 

    4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

    Very useful information. I particularly like the full gallery on painting a toy cradle in steps. I agree little girls love the bright colours and butterflies and flowers are always popular!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    Millionaire Tips:

    That is a great way to plan for the future! :) Thanks much for your feedback on this painted doll cradle. I hope you get to have fun painting one (or something like it) very soon. Enjoy your new walls!

  • Millionaire Tips profile image

    Shasta Matova 

    4 years ago from USA

    This is really cute - I have been painting the walls of a house, and I am looking forward to thinking of fun projects to use up the leftover paint. The butterfly is amazing!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    Elraosh:

    Thanks for stopping in!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    anidae:

    Thank you very much for your comment! It's good to see you back at HP!

    This was the second of these toddler toys that I painted. Now I'm thinking of doing some tinier cradles for table top play, sized for their little hands. We'll have to see... :)

  • anidae profile image

    Anita Adams 

    4 years ago from Tennessee

    I loved the painted cradle----you do inspire me to get busy and craft some gifts. I really do like to read your articles.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    Mommymay:

    Thanks for checking out this painted cradle project. Our granddaughters seemed to love theirs. They are loads of fun to design and finish. Maybe you'll get to paint your own one day!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    pstraubie48:

    So glad to know that you enjoyed this project. They are loads of fun to design and paint. I've considered making miniature ones in the future, sort of a table top style for little hands. Thanks much for coming by!

  • profile image

    Elraosh 

    5 years ago

    I wish I had a little girl to buy for! I'm going to check to see if they have any boy stuff on sale. I've never heard of the GT baby site bforee. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mommymay profile image

    Heather May 

    5 years ago from Ohio

    That is so sweet my daughter would LOVE to play with this!

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    5 years ago from sunny Florida

    These are so cute. I am giving more handmade gifts this year for a number of reasons.

    I have several little girls to give gifts to and this is a lovely idea. thank you for sharing and thanks for all of the pictures. Angels are on the way ps

    Pinned and shared

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    Eiddwen:

    Thanks for your feedback here. Maybe you'll get to see a unique toy cradle being designed for a little one in your family!

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 

    5 years ago from Wales

    What a wonderful end product.I am sharing this gem onto my family.

    Eddy.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    The Dirt Farmer:

    Thanks bunches--so appreciate your feedback on this toy cradle!

  • The Dirt Farmer profile image

    Jill Spencer 

    5 years ago from United States

    Your finished project is so cheerful & sweet!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    kashmir56:

    Thank you for letting me know that you found this useful and easy to follow! It really is an easy project, and best of all, lots of fun. :)

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 

    5 years ago from Massachusetts

    All great and useful information and so well explained and easy to follow instructions . Well done !

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    Glimmer Twin Fan:

    Thanks much for your feedback on this paint project!

  • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

    Claudia Mitchell 

    5 years ago

    What a great idea for a little girl. One could match the room with the colors. Too bad my daughter is too old for this. Shared for others to enjoy!

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