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Build and Paint a Toy Cradle

Updated on September 27, 2016
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.

It's easy to build and paint a toy baby doll's cradle for a toddler!
It's easy to build and paint a toy baby doll's cradle for a toddler! | Source

A Toy Cradle for a 2 Year Old's Birthday

When our second granddaughter was looking at her two year birthday it seemed like a good idea to design and make a baby doll cradle just her size but we needed to think the project through carefully.

After a little research the decisions for making our design were child's play. By following these guidelines you will also be able to easily make a cradle for a child.

Deciding the Size and Design


Because our little CW is so young we wanted to design it so it would not be too large or too “rocky,” yet it needed to be large enough and to look stylish enough for her to use as she grew through her toddler stages.

The size needed to be able to hold a good size doll baby because she has her mother’s girlhood dolls to play with, but still, we needed to keep it small enough for her little hands to manage easily.

Once we started drawing sizes for the project on paper, Grandpapa worked out just the right scale. His calculations produced a cradle design with an overall measurement of 17" long x 12" wide x 12" high.

Creating the right paint motif could help it look more “rocky,” keeping it safer for her as she toddled around during play time. Painting a one-of-a-kind cradle for her was going to be great fun for Grandmama!


Cutting Out and Assembling the Cradle


While there were several ways the cradle could have been designed for assembly, we chose a simple way to keep it as light as possible since we would be mailing it to the PNW. Keeping it uncomplicated also allowed us to finish it quickly.

5 Easy Pieces to the Project:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Long Side PiecesBottom RectangleShaping the End PiecesRoutering Ends for Fitting Sides and BottomCradle Assembled and Clamped to Dry
Long Side Pieces
Long Side Pieces | Source
Bottom Rectangle
Bottom Rectangle | Source
Shaping the End Pieces
Shaping the End Pieces | Source
Routering Ends for Fitting Sides and Bottom
Routering Ends for Fitting Sides and Bottom | Source
Cradle Assembled and Clamped to Dry
Cradle Assembled and Clamped to Dry | Source

This design has 5 basic pieces--2 ends cut from 1x12 pine board, 2 sides and a bottom cut from 1/2” sandply plywood (cabinet grade material) so that giving the project a nice finish would be a fast, easy process.

The sides and bottom were simple rectangles, 2 sides 16” long x 5” wide and 1 bottom 16" long x 8" wide--see the first and second photos on the right of this paragraph.

The 2 end pieces were initially cut in a trapezoid shape of 11 1/4" long, 12" at the bottom, and 10" at the top. Those top corners were rounded off and the wider bottom corners were cut to allow the cradle to rock, yet not so much that it would be too tipsy for her--see the third photo.

Grandpapa used a small power sander to nicely round off the roughly curved corners on the ends. He then knocked off the sharp edges on all the pieces so her tender skin would not be damaged by sharp wood corners.

He used a router to cut slots into the ends to fit the bottom and sides so the pieces could be securely assembled into one unit, but that method is not absolutely necessary. The pieces could simply be stapled, screwed, or nailed in place.

Drilling holes for countersinking the screws, glueing the pieces, then adding the finish screws put the toy together sturdily. Clamping all of the parts in place to give the glue extra strength left us waiting on drying time so it could be finished.

Once the glue was dry and the cradle was hand sanded, he used wood putty to fill small holes and nicks. After the putty dried a final sanding meant that Grandmama could begin her fun...


Painting the Toddler-Sized Babydoll Cradle


The raw wood required a primer and I decided to put two coats on this project since there were a couple of small knots in it, giving each coat a light sanding after they dried. Then I went back with a third coat on top of the knotty areas.

While the primer dried I made three heart shaped patterns for the insides and outsides of the end pieces. See photos below.

• The first pattern piece was a rocker design with a heart shaped top to use on the outside ends.

• I used the same size heart shape to make a full heart pattern piece for the ends' insides.

• The third pattern piece was a copy of the full heart that I scalloped along the outside edges. This piece would be used as a guide later in the painting process.

Painting Process for Doll Cradle

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Priming Every Surface of the Cradle TwiceFirst Two Pattern PiecesThird pattern piece showing the scallops.Showing Position of Paper PatternsPaper Patterns on Painted CradleReady to Paint Cream on the Inside and Outside HeartsHearts Filled In and Scallops Going OnSmudges are Easily Touched UpLayering Dark Green Vines over Brown Vine BranchesBeginning more Vines and Leaves on HeartsFilling out Heavy Vines and LeavesDetailing Leaves and Vine WispsHighlights going on Vines and LeavesInsides Done, Working on Highighting Outside Design.An Aerial ViewA Little BIrd Shelters a Prayer Underneath Her WIngsHappy Bird waiting to Smile at CW!Checking for Needed TouchupsInspecting the Paint JobA Light Glaze and Clear Coat Finished the Doll Cradle
Priming Every Surface of the Cradle Twice
Priming Every Surface of the Cradle Twice | Source
First Two Pattern Pieces
First Two Pattern Pieces | Source
Third pattern piece showing the scallops.
Third pattern piece showing the scallops. | Source
Showing Position of Paper Patterns
Showing Position of Paper Patterns | Source
Paper Patterns on Painted Cradle
Paper Patterns on Painted Cradle | Source
Ready to Paint Cream on the Inside and Outside Hearts
Ready to Paint Cream on the Inside and Outside Hearts | Source
Hearts Filled In and Scallops Going On
Hearts Filled In and Scallops Going On | Source
Smudges are Easily Touched Up
Smudges are Easily Touched Up | Source
Layering Dark Green Vines over Brown Vine Branches
Layering Dark Green Vines over Brown Vine Branches | Source
Beginning more Vines and Leaves on Hearts
Beginning more Vines and Leaves on Hearts | Source
Filling out Heavy Vines and Leaves
Filling out Heavy Vines and Leaves | Source
Detailing Leaves and Vine Wisps
Detailing Leaves and Vine Wisps | Source
Highlights going on Vines and Leaves
Highlights going on Vines and Leaves | Source
Insides Done, Working on Highighting Outside Design.
Insides Done, Working on Highighting Outside Design. | Source
An Aerial View
An Aerial View | Source
A Little BIrd Shelters a Prayer Underneath Her WIngs
A Little BIrd Shelters a Prayer Underneath Her WIngs | Source
Happy Bird waiting to Smile at CW!
Happy Bird waiting to Smile at CW! | Source
Checking for Needed Touchups
Checking for Needed Touchups | Source
Inspecting the Paint Job
Inspecting the Paint Job | Source
A Light Glaze and Clear Coat Finished the Doll Cradle
A Light Glaze and Clear Coat Finished the Doll Cradle | Source

After the primer was given a final sanding I used the first two pattern pieces to outline designs on each side of each end piece (as shown in the photos).

Then I painted the cradle a medium-dark sage green using an acrylic craft paint, lightly painting the second coat over the heart shapes I had drawn on the primer coat.

Once the sage was dry I used a cream colored acrylic paint to fill in the outlines. Two coats were required and each needed to dry thoroughly.

I then used a glossy white acrylic to outline the cream colored hearts to give dimension to the basic design. This outline is much less noticeable in real life than in the pictures.

The third pattern piece was placed on top of the painted heart shapes allowing me to pencil in the scalloped areas, not closing the heart’s bottom on the outside of the ends--note photos.

The scalloped design was the base for beginning a vine design. As shown in the photos, the brown bare branches looked a little scary!

Various greens were used to add life to the bleak branches. First, I painted a dark green along the edges of the brown. Then, dark green leaves here and there were grown into the design as the vine developed.

A medium green to added wisps and curlycues throughout the branches, as well as a few highlights to the leaves. Finally a very light sage was used for the final leaf highlights and to accent a few of the vines.

The key was to go for a natural garden look that gave an impression rather than a look of perfection in the design. Seeking a relaxed yet controlled overgrowth for these hearts gave it a nice outdoor feel.

Have you ever built a child's doll cradle?

See results

Painting faux slats on the sides was easy enough, but time consuming so I decided that doing the outsides would be good enough. I forgot to take pictures of that process, but I measured approximately 1” spaces, painted them white, then put a hint of shadow on each slat using the cream.

For contrast I decided to paint the bed area of the cradle a very light sage, hardly distinguishable from the cream in the photos. On the bottom, underneath the cradle. I painted a bright, whimsical bird to watch over her playtime.

At this point, I sponged a white glaze over the entire cradle, working in small areas to give a thin, translucent, cloudy appearance to the painted design. A bit of glazing gives depth to the layers of a design, adding even more life to it.

Finally, the entire cradle was sprayed with a clear coat to protect the acrylic paint surface. Two light coats were applied according to manufacturer’s instructions.


A Look at Painting Vines:

Finishing the Birthday Cradle


With the clear coat dry, a light sanding readied the cradle for it’s mailing box, which we had to make to fit. But first, the cradle needed something soft!

When my granddaughter’s mommy was a little girl a friend quilted her a small wall hanging of pink hearts. It made the perfect lining for this wooden project!

Of course, even though my little granddaughter already has baby dolls, I couldn’t send an empty cradle--it had to have “someone” in it. I’m planning my next hub around a super easy doll baby in a blanket that traveled across the country in this cradle.



Beautiful Cradle Design


A father shares his motivation and design for a sweetheart of a toy cradle.


A Doable Toy Bed Project!


Perhaps you are unable to build a toy bed to give as a gift. Don't despair! Unfinished doll cradles and beds are available. Personalize one like this from Amazon and your project will be just as special.

Paint Easy Flower Clusters:

A Group of Historical Dolls


Wisconsin Historical Society Collection

Printable Paper Doll Worksheets for Fun and Education

A Fun Vine Technique:

Other Paint Projects You Might Enjoy:


Renew a dresser with decorative paint and make it useable.

• Faux paint a small cabinet for craft supplies.

Paint a baby bib for holiday fun!

• Patriotic fun for kid's tee shirts.



What do you think of this toy cradle project?

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    • RTalloni profile image
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      RTalloni 22 months ago from the short journey

      favored:

      Thanks very much! We stay so busy that I sometimes forget what we've done. Looking back over this hub is a reminder that makes me smile so thanks for that chance too! :) The girls (I have another hub for the other one) are still enjoying these cradles.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 22 months ago from USA

      Your project turned out so nice, and I like the soft color you used. My husband enjoys making things like this. Sharing this link :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      purl3agony:

      Thanks kindly! Putting this gift together gave us such joy so I wanted others to get a grasp of how easy the project was to do. Thank you for checking it out and leaving your positive comment!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Gosh - this is absolutely gorgeous! Your granddaughter is very lucky to receive such a lovely gift. Your step by step photos and wonderful and your painting detail is just beautiful! Thank you for sharing and posting!!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      CherylsArt:

      Thanks much! It's a very easy woodworking project and painting this and the one in the other hub on this topic was such fun because I was imagining the smiles on the little ones' faces when they opened their gifts. :)

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      That's pretty awesome. I made a rocking chair for my daughter when she was little; the hardest part was making the rounded rockers for it. But it's always so neat to see the little ones enjoy our creations.

    • RTalloni profile image
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      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Dexter Stephens:

      Thanks kindly! Appreciate that you came by this wood toy hub and left a note.

    • profile image

      Dexter Stephens 3 years ago

      Very interesting hub. loved your creativity.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      DDE:

      Thanks so much for letting me know you stopped by and enjoyed seeing this toy cradle. It's so helpful to hear from readers when we do a DIY hub because while we may understand our directions, the important thing is whether others do! :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Build and Paint a Toy Cradle what a lovely approach to such a helpful hub, definitely a useful and informative with such creativity one can so easily follow the steps provided

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      KoffeeKlatch Gals:

      How lovely to know that this craft project has been helpful to you! The project was designed to be easy to make. I'm guessing that about a month of anyone's spare time would be adequate so you have plenty of time to plan to make your granddaughter's gift! Thanks so much for all your feedback on this toy cradle hub.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I love this cradle. You can tell it was crafted with love. My youngest granddaughter will be one this month. If I start now maybe I can have a cradle ready for her by her second birthday. The directions and pictures are incredible.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      phdast7:

      Thanks much for your feedback on this project! I actually have another hub on painting one of these cradles waiting in the wings…coming soon I hope. When our little grandson was tiny we made a toddler sized bookcase for him using this same method for rounded sides in a non-tipsy design. I painted a giraffe on one end, and truck/road scene on the other, with the same bold colors on the shelves and geometric designs on their edges. I just finished a couple of small toys that I'll feature in hubs soon/eventually. Congrats on the new babies--we are expecting a grandchild in Alaska this week. :) I hope you get to enjoy painting some kid's projects this year because they are such fun. I'm glad to know this was inspiring! :)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      RT- You and your husband are so creative. This cradle is just adorable and I love all greens, but especially sage green. I had three boys so we never had any cradles in our house. But...

      Several months ago I found out that my niece is pregnant with her first child, although they don't know the sex yet. She is my younger brother's oldest daughter and Olivia is very artistic and creative. She would fall in love with a cradle like this. Then last month, my other brother's oldest son called to tell me his wife was pregnant. David and Kelly are so excited and they already know they are having a little girl.

      So I am bookmarking this and will be conferring with my brother's shortly about this project. They can make it and I will assist with the painting, although I am not sure I could do anything as lovely as what you did. Such a wonderful home-made gift - I can see it being passed down through the generations. Delightful! Sharing. Theresa

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Denise Handlon:

      Thank you for taking a look at this project, and especially for adding your special memory to this hub. That is what hand made gifts are all about--memories that can sometimes be handed down through generations.

      I will be posting a new painted cradle design before too long, one that I enjoyed painting as much as I enjoyed this one. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      This is a wonderful hub for anytime of the year. The instructions are so detailed and the photographs clear, it would be easy to recreate one through your explanation.

      When I left my daughters father they were 3 and 5. I had no money, no job and had moved into my parents home. In the month before Christmas I had no idea how I was going to manage Christmas gifts from myself or Santa. I was not receiving any child support from their father. I knew that my oldest wanted a 'China' doll that looked like her Korean g.f. she had to say goodbye to. My youngest asked for a 'blue' bear. The bear was easy to find, however, it took a small miracle to find an Asian doll that was not porcelain.

      In the meantime, I quilted baby blankets for them and, with my fathers assistance and tools, built them each a baby crib for their dolls. It was one of the best Christmases. They were so surprised that Santa had brought them exactly what they wanted and found them at their grandparents home. Their expressions of joy that Christmas morning were priceless. Thanks for this wonderful reminder of those homemade gifts. Happy New Year.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Peggy W:

      Thanks so much for your kind feedback on this cradle project!

      If we take the fun out of a project we may as well go do something else, yes? :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I'll bet that your little granddaughter was so pleased when she saw her doll sized cradle made by the two of you. It is just darling! Loved the photos you took as the painting progressed. It would become a lot of work...but bet that you could mass market this if you wished. Of course that would take the fun out of it. Up votes and sharing.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Millionaire Tips:

      Thanks bunches for taking a look at this painted cradle.

      There are unfinished cradles online, or maybe you can find someone to make this easy design for you.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      That's really cute! I took woodworking in high school but don't have the equipment to be able to make anything like that. Voted up.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Mama Kim 8:

      Thank you very much! I hope we get to see your painted cradle project here on HP. :)

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 5 years ago

      This is beautiful! I will certainly have to make one for my daughter when she's old enough! Voting a bunch and pinning

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      kelleyward:

      I hope with you that you are able to create a toy doll cradle for a little granddaughter one day! Thank you so much for your input here.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      You sound like a great Grandma! I have 3 boys so I hope and pray that someday I can build a toy cradle as beautiful as this one with my grandaughter. Voted up and awesome! Kelley

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      AliciaC:

      Thanks kindly! I'm glad to know you like it and I appreciate knowing that the instructions are clear. The doll hub will be out soon, hopefully. :)

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      kashmir56:

      Thanks bunches for letting me know you liked this cradle project and that the hub explained the processes well. So appreciate your input!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a lovely project! I don't have much experience working with wood, but I love your clear instructions. The cradle is beautiful. I'm looking forward to your hub about creating a doll to go in the cradle.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi RTalloni , great hub and project and i like how well explained it is has well.

      Well done and vote up and more !!!

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Jackie Lynnley:

      It is an easy project that could make a big impact on a little heart! :) Thanks very much for coming by and letting me know you like this hub's project.

    • RTalloni profile image
      Author

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      teaches12345:

      Thanks so much for letting me know you like this project idea for your granddaughter and that you found the hub's tutorial to be easy to follow. So appreciate your input!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I can do the paint and design but I have always wanted to work with wood, especially with small things like this. I bet it would be so easy. Great info and inspiration!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I just know that my granddaughter would love this idea. How lovely. Your detailed instructions are ones that would make it easy to do. As always, an enjoyable read. Voted up!