It’s not just your imagination. Your home really is slowly being eaten alive by empty baby food jars that you’re neatly arranging in a spare closet, then a second closet, and finally throughout your entire basement.
According to an article by National Geographic, the average American baby consumes 600 jars of commercial baby food by the time they are a year old. But your baby isn’t typical. You estimate you’re actually storing more like 1,200 empty jars with nowhere to turn.
You can do more with those old baby food jars than storing them or throwing them into the recycling bin. Reuse them for everything from spice holders to decorative gifts for year-round fun.
Here are 10 great ways to reuse them.
1. Spice Rack
If you’re like us, your spice rack isn’t so much a rack as it is a cabinet. And the spices probably aren’t even lined up so you can easily access them to make a delicious home-cooked meal. Instead, they’re just haphazardly laying on their sides and conveniently holding down everything from your child’s first baby photo to a BOGO coupon that expired 16 months ago.
Gather up those old baby jars and turn them into a cute, trendy, and eye-catching spice rack. Buzzfeed also shows how you can use a little chalkboard paint right on the top of the lids to later scribble on the names of your spices.
This comes in handy if one month you buy Cream of Tartar to make homemade playdough 24/7, and then the next month you decide to ban homemade playdough making, and instead fill the jar with the hottest red peppers you can find. You’ll try anything if it means keeping your kids out of your new fantastical spice rack.
2. Candle Holder
You don’t have to be envious of those glorious Etsy shops that look like someone is making homemade, essential oil-infused, bespoke crafted candles from a cottage in the woods. Make your own candles by melting down the scraps from the ones you already have. Bonus if you actually have essential oils and want to add those too. Our guess is that you have lavender on hand after reading that diluting it and rubbing it on your child’s feet will render them useless and actually make them go to sleep.
Use your empty baby food jars for recycled candles made from wax scraps left around your house, then add a wick from a craft store. And hey, if you run out of time for holiday shopping, you can always pass these homemade candles off as your own signature creations especially crafted from the bottom of your heart. Recipients don’t have to know you were drowning in baby food jars and wax scraps and were ready to abandon your home and start a new life because of it.
3. Seashell Collection
You know those tiny, colorful little seashell bits and fragments your little ones bring home from the beach and declare are theirs forever? Those same sharp, pointed scraps that you step on until your feet bleed, but if you vacuum them up, your kids collapse on the floor as if you just torched their lovies and blankets? Yeah, those.
Honor the sanctity of those beloved seashell collections and pour them into old baby food jars. Bonus if you want to include any sand, tiny rocks, or other choking devices. Super glue the lid on if you need to keep prying hands out, and tie off with a colorful ribbon. Moms who really want to go the extra mile can coat the tops with chalkboard paint and write their kids’ names on them to give them a greater sense of ownership over their first completely misfit collection. Hey, at least it’s not bugs.
4. Homemade Playdough Jar
Remember how you read that super-cute (and suspiciously easy-looking) tutorial on making your own homemade playdough? Then you do it, and discover that it takes no fewer than 47 batches to get it right, not to mention figuring out how to actually clean up the playdough bomb that goes off in your kitchen?
Clean out those old baby food jars and use them to store your homemade playdough recipes. Store any extra in a ziplock bag to refill as your batches start to get dried out and full of carpet fuzz, because you know your “No playdough in the family room” rule went out the window the moment you said it. Get really creative and hide tiny dinosaurs and toy soldiers inside for a sensory game your kids will love. And hopefully that will give you the 15 minutes you need to attack your playdough-bombed kitchen.
Snowglobes have always represented some kind of mystical knickknack that makes an appearance around Christmas time. They also tend to adorn gas stations that sell housewares like beer koozies. As magical as they are, snowglobes are also the scene of heartbreak and tantrums as they leak and their tiny figurines break off into a watery orbit.
Keep the magic alive and make your own snowglobes all year round. Use water resistant adhesive to attach your little figurines or holiday trees to your baby jar lids. Pick-up some glycerin from a craft store and add a few drops to water before adding in some chunky colorful glitter. You’ve got yourself a snowglobe! And when it breaks, there are approximately 100 other baby food jars in line to get the royal treatment.
6. Candy Gift Jars
Crush the spirit of your crafty neighbor during any holiday by simply attaching pom pom balls, ribbons and Victorian-inspired labels around a baby food jar. Thinking about Valentine’s Day? No problem. Show your neighborhood who the Queen of Craft really is with a Valentine’s Day candy holder filled with color confections.
Just attach a red pom pom ball to your baby food jar, add some googly eyes to it and tie a ribbon around the jar. For good measure, print out a Happy Valentines Day label. Serendipity Refined also has a great tutorial for Easter with a white pom pom, felt bunny ears and Spring ribbon adornment. Then leave a hundred of them on your neighbor’s porch just to show her you can.
7. Mini Planters
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, it’s hard to screw up tiny plants in super cute planters in reused baby food jars. Choose something like herbs that are meant to be picked and used on a regular basis, or succulents and cacti that are hard to destroy. Note: we didn’t say “impossible to destroy.” We just said “hard to destroy.” There are toddlers in the house, after all.
Pick up some soil and ask about any fertilizer needs at your local nursery, and start planting. Bonus if you want to attach your herb planters to a distressed painted board to accessorize that shabby chic kitchen or mudroom you’ve had on your mind. When it’s time for your next family gathering, even your judgmental mother-in-law will be impressed by your freshly-grown herbs that turn your standard go-to dish into a culinary work of art.
8. S’mores in a Jar
S’mores are every parent’s worst nightmare. Open flames. Melting, gooey marshmallows in tiny hands. Chocolate sliding off of crumbling graham crackers. Tears ensue, and soon your idyllic backyard bonfire idea turns into complete apocalyptic chaos.
Instead, repurpose your baby food jars as a S’mores in a Jar holder that’s both fun and festive. There’s way less mess to deal with, and now your kids actually have an incentive to eat with proper utensils. Layer your ingredients accordingly and add brown roasted marshmallows on top for a decadent treat. No bonfire necessary.
9. Magic 8 Ball
Want your kids to start employing the magic of superstition and begging inanimate objects to yield luck? Then create your very own Magic 8 Balls with baby food jars and have fun customizing them to your family’s favorite slogans and mantras for inspiration.
Use an oversized dice or cube and add craft foam over the top with your favorite sayings. The bottom of the jar should remain clear, while the sides of the jar are covered in your favorite paint or other craft go-to.
Jazz up the experience by adding glitter to the jar to create an especially trippy experience. Now when your kids ask if they can stay up to watch a totally inappropriate movie, want to turn the sofa into a ski slope, or play “stack the china,” tell them to go ask the Magic 8 Ball jar instead, and take the parenting break you deserve.
10. Glitter Slime
Before you became a parent, you probably never knew it was possible to attract grime and slime from every corner of your home. It’s no use wondering how it got in there or where it came from. Slime just naturally follows wherever kids roam.
Just give in and make your own slime packaged into a cute baby food jar, but add glitter to make it look more fun and intentional. Otherwise you might mistake it for whatever is coming out of your child’s toy chest. Use a little baby powder, talc, or psyllium powder and water to get the base of your slime going. Your kid’s favorite food coloring and some glitter turns this slime pile into a work of art.
What’s your favorite way to reuse old baby food jars? Let us know in the comments below: