Upcycled: milk storage bottles

D is rounding 2 and a half, and I'm still working my way through the impressive stash of 80mL Medela bottles I unintentionally collected in the weeks after he was born. At the time, these bottles represented the one thing I could do for my baby that the NICU couldn't do. They had been filled, refrigerated, transported in a cooler, stored in the hospital's milk bank, and brought back home in dry ice before I thawed them, 1-2 at a time, over the next few months. As a newbie parent, I wasn't really comfortable re-using the bottles (the label on each hospital-issue bottle reminds you not to). But it felt wrong to just throw them away. So I started filling canvas bins.

After a recent Kondo-worthy clean-out, though, I decided it was time to do something with my 200+ bottle inventory. Recycle? Sure, but these bottles helped me through one of the most physically and emotionally challenging times of my life. So I figured they deserved a more joyful send-off first. So far, they've become: 

  • Noisemakers: rice, beans, or pasta are a great fit, and the bottles fit perfectly into tiny hands.
  • Bath time test tubes: drop in Crayola Bath Drops and let your little scientist experiment with colors. 
Milk storage bottles turned test tubes.

Milk storage bottles turned test tubes.

  • Toy bottles: the 80mL size is great for kiddo's stuffed animals. 
  • Chalk & crayon holders: tuck a tube or two in your diaper bag to keep everything else clean.
  • Play dough storage: the tubes can store tiny amounts of kiddo's favorite colors, and the lids make great "cookie" cutters.
  • Blocks: these bottles make excellent towers for your little one to knock over.
  • Bowling pins: grab a soft ball and turn your kitchen floor into a homespun bowling alley.
Milk storage bottles turned bowling pins.

Milk storage bottles turned bowling pins.

  • To-go cups: the small size make them nice for "special" drinks like juice. Cut a straw in half and you have a fun disposable cup to toss in the diaper bag.
  • Banks: kiddo can count his pennies.

How have you turned your bottles to toys? Share your pics and ideas with us in the comments.