Trying Out A DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning

Does your little one enjoy pulling and tugging at things? Baby Gwen does that all the time, sometimes with such force that she loses her balance and falls backwards! It started innocuously with her pulling socks off on car rides. Before long, she was pulling kitchen rugs off oven doors, clothes from folded laundry piles, books from shelves (the list goes on...)

Why do children pull at things?

Children tug at things to see what happens. They are natural, inquisitive yet expert experimenters, repeating the same pulling action many times just to check if it arrives at the same outcome each time.

This is how they test theories and experiment to learn about the world around them.

DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning. For Babies and Young Toddlers

Benefits of a tugging toy

Because not everything is safe to tug at, I decided to make Gwen a tugging toy that will concentrate her tugging urges in one place and let her learn through play. I referenced an easy and clear tutorial by Laughing Kids Learn to make the DIY tugging toy.

It's pretty remarkable how such a simple toy can enable a baby or young toddler to learn so many things, such as:

  • Cause and effect
  • Provide new sensorial experience
  • Improve fine motor skills
  • Enhance hand/eye coordination

DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning. For Babies and Young Toddlers

Making the DIY tugging box

It was surprisingly less tedious or laborious than I expected!

Partly because I had materials lying around the house - a cardboard box for my pump that could be opened and closed and was of a size that's similar to an activity cube so it's easy to manage for Gwen's little hands, ribbons, shoelaces or fabric strips (of varying lengths and textures for a varied sensory experience) as well as a keychain that rattled.

I think it's a good idea to save cardboard boxes and ribbons from unwrapped presents from now on to make DIY toys for Gwen!

DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning. For Babies and Young Toddlers

DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning. For Babies and Young Toddlers

How Gwen reacted to the tugging box

Gwen was attracted most to the ribbon with a noisy keychain attached. She fiddled with the keychain for a while and by accident pulled the ribbon and realised it could be lengthened. I pulled the ribbon on the opposite end and it was shortened, which intrigued her. That caused her to tug at the ribbon again, and we spent a couple of minutes doing tug-of-war.

After that, Gwen reached out for the rest of the ribbons, shoelaces and fabric strips and felt their textures. She tried to pull at the knots to see if they would come off (but I did a good job /pats self on shoulder.)

She then lifted and shook the box for some time, which made a fun rattling sound. She fumbled with opening the box to see what's within so I helped her and she was delighted to reach into the box to grab at the myriad of ribbons, shoelaces and fabric strips.

I took the chance to tug at a few more ribbons while she observed from top-down the lengthening and shortening of the ribbons on each end. It was all very fascinating to her.

I left the box at her play area and she returned to tug at it a few times within the day.


  • I supervised Gwen as she played with this tugging box. This is because any string or bell that comes off could present a suffocation or choking risk.

I would to swap more fine motor ideas with fellow parents! Chat with me via Instagram at @miraculove_sg or Facebook Group.

DIY Tugging Box for Cause and Effect Learning. For Babies and Young Toddlers

Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.

Hi! We are Yunnie & Limin and we used to design customised wedding invitations in Singapore. If you’re here for that, thank you but we no longer design and are sorry that we can’t be a part of your special day. But we welcome you to hang around if you have little people in your life whom you interact and play with. Miraculove is now an education website for caregivers to be inspired by our heart and handmade play ideas, so everyone can make learning fun and stimulating for babies and toddlers.