Treasure baskets and sensory bottles

Ideas for treasure baskets and sensory bottles that babies and toddlers will love

Treasure baskets and sensory bottles offer a wonderful way of introducing the idea of sensory play to your home. They are simple to create using everyday items (including sensory toys) and you can stimulate all the senses in a fun, safe, playful way.

Both sensory bottles and treasure baskets will spark curiosity, concentration and decision making as babies and young children explore and discover the items they are given.

Treasure Baskets

A treasure basket is a wonderful resource and the perfect sensory toy for babies that can be utilised from a young age.

Choose a basket that has a flat bottom and is either soft and flexible or sturdy enough not to tip over if baby leans on it. Then choose your objects to go inside.

You can put pretty much anything you like in a treasure basket so long as it’s safe. Everyday items from around the home and natural objects are a great place to start. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Brushes. A paintbrush, silicone pastry brush, nail brush, hairbrush or a washing-up brush all make great additions to a sensory basket. Just be aware that like anything you put in the basket it’s likely to end up getting chewed so make sure brushes are clean, and that the bristles are secure. We also prefer wooden or bamboo handles that aren’t painted or varnished.
  • Kitchen utensils. Kids love playing with everyday objects just as much if not more than they love playing with toys. A spatula, a whisk, a honey drizzler, a lemon reamer, a wooden spoon and measuring cups are all great items for a treasure basket. And if your little one really loves playing with things from the kitchen why not make one of your draws or cupboards safe for them to play with.
  • Natural objects. A natural sponge is fun to squish and chew and has a different texture to many things. Pine cones are fun to explore and they are great for throwing, rolling and wrapping a string around. Feathers are soft and tickly, and stones are hard and heavy. Just make sure pebbles are big enough not to be a choking hazard.
  • Items to stimulate their sense of smell. There are lots of things that can add scent and an extra level of sensory exploration to play. A dried orange or lemon, a little bag of herbs, a sprig of rosemary or lavender, a shell that smells of the sea, natural wool, a vanilla pod or a cinnamon stick are all great for a sensory basket.
  • Noisy items. This could be a rattle, a bottle full of rice or dried beans, velcro, crinkly foil (a silver emergency blanket makes a great noise) or anything that makes a good noise when you bang it.

Change up the contents regularly so there’s always something new to discover.

Sensory bottles

Like treasure baskets, sensory bottles are easy to create and fun to play with. They’re particularly good for times when you need non-messy sensory play options as everything is safely enclosed inside a bottle.

Sensory bottles are also a great way to reuse bottles and you can make use of any size bottle.

There are so many ideas online. Noisy bottles filled with beads, rice, beans or pasta are a super easy place to start. A bottle filled with small toys and sand offers lots of opportunity for discovery and watching how oil and water separate is always fascinating especially if you add a bit of colour.

And if all this DIY is a bit much here’s our pick of the best baby sensory toys.

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