Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Treasure Baskets for Babies

It can often be difficult to keep Taylor amused. He's quite full on, never sits still and needs constant stimulation. He often gets fed up with his toys and I have to make sure I rotate which toys I get out so he doesn't get bored of them. 

Being an Early Years practitioner, I know the benefits of heuristic play [which means, giving a child a group of different, everyday objects to explore freely, without intervention] and couldn't wait to start putting Treasure Baskets together for Taylor.

Treasure Baskets, [or discovery baskets, sensory baskets... Call it what you will] are a fantastic way for a child to have opportunity to explore every day, 'real' objects such as wood, metal and different textures [rather than the usual plastic toys] and build on so many important skills; fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and cognitive development to name a few. It provides babies with the opportunity to choose what they want to 'play with' and 'explore' and how they want to, through licking, sucking, biting, rubbing, dropping, even throwing. And all these experiences are helping the brain to make connections.

The idea behind a Treasure Basket, is to collect a number of items into a basket that your baby can see into and reach into comfortably. It's probably best not to have the basket accessible all the time, but to introduce it just now and again. 
We get it out every evening after dinner time, and I remove all other toys from the space.

They can be used from when a baby learns to sit up, and starts to reach out and pick up objects.

I sit close by and observe what Taylor is doing, and sometimes I'll sit and explore them with him. Although heuristic play does mean baby leads his own play, he enjoys when I explore the objects with him, he'll often copy or explore with me. I like to play with him one day, then watch what he does another day when exploring on his own. The best way is to sit back and just 'be there' in case baby decides to involve you in his play.

I like to strip him down to his vest, so he can explore all the objects and materials with his bare skin.

The environment should be calm, and quiet.

Let me show you what is currently inside our Sensory Basket:

Our basket is one that we used on his changing table and kept his muslin cloths in. It's a cute basket with a hessian lining.

Everything inside is from around the house, or I picked up from a pound shop. So they're super super easy and inexpensive to make!

It's important to check the objects regularly for any sharp edges or any other safety implications, and to sit close by, or with a watchful eye to check baby is using them safely. Never leave baby un attended with the basket. Never choose objects with loose, choking hazards, loose threads, sharp edges or dye. 

The basket can be updated and changed regularly, based on what baby uses most or doesn't use very often, and more age appropriate things can be added as baby gets older.

Inside we have:

Plastic Whisk - Taylor mainly uses this to 'bash' things, and generally explores it with his mouth or fingers. I bought this from the Pound Shop.

Plastic Pegs - He usually pops these straight into his mouth. I like to attach them to things and he enjoys pulling them off. These were also from the Pound Shop.

Wooden Spoons - Taylor will 'bash' with these and he tries to copy me when I tap them together. Another Pound Shop purchase.

Empty Cardboard Sellotape Roll - He likes to watch me roll this, but independently he just likes to chew it :) This was leftover from my work materials.

Bath Buffer - He rarely goes for this one to be honest. It usually goes in his mouth then is thrown aside. This was from a bath set I had, but don't use.

Small Hessian Bag - As Taylor gets older, this bag could contain things like shells, marbles etc. 

Hair Doughnut - Like the bath buffer, this has a unique feel to it, I popped these in so he has different textures to explore. I had this lying around at home.

Velcro Hair Rollers - We use these to thread onto things, attach pegs onto, stick onto things or each other, and lots of other things, they're very popular. I picked a pack up of these from the Pound Shop.

Bag of Coloured Plastic Cubes - These are perfect for heightening all senses; lots of bright colours, the cubes are squeezable and the bag is stretchy and flexible. These were from the Pound Shop.

Sensory Ball - This was a Christmas present to Taylor from my brother and sister in law. I like to roll it on his bare legs so he gets to feel the gentle little prickles on his skin, it makes him giggle. He likes to chew on this and throw it.

Teething Necklace - Strangely, he doesn't chew the rubbery heart, but the plastic clasp at the other end of the necklace. This came in a previous Sassybloom box. 

Sensory Bottles - one contains dry pasta which is one of Taylor's favourite things in the basket, he loves shaking it as it makes a really loud noise. The other contains blue water, with bits of coloured plastic binds which were leftover cut offs from my work materials, these float around in the water when shook.

Ribbon - This is from one of our Sassybloom boxes and we use this to wrap around objects and feel the material on his skin.

Bubble Wrap Bow - The bubble wrap is from cut offs from my work materials, I tied it into a bow and Taylor likes to suck on it. I'll admit I've nearly popped all the poppers now I think! :)

Crunchy, Holographic Paper - this was part of a birthday banner which is super shiny; the holographic effect means lots of colours when in the light, and makes a really crunchy, crinkly sound when scrunched up, perfect for all senses.

We've since added some big plastic lids which he likes as it still has the colourful image on the lid.

He loves when we get his basket out, although I think I'm going to have to stop bringing it out every night, and maybe only bring it out a couple of times a week, as some days he can take it or leave it. It's also been a few weeks now so I should probably think about changing up the objects a little. 

I'm always on the lookout in pound shops for new items to add.

Objects I'd like to add as he gets older, are:

  • Metal objects such as measuring spoons, egg cups, mini strainer, mirrors etc.
  • Pine cones
  • Brushes [like pastry brushes or shaving brushes, he does seem to have an obsession with my make up brushes!!]
  • Big shells
  • Loofah
  • Lids [metal and plastic]
  • CDs
  • Zips
  • Feathers
  • Gift bows

Another great idea is to make 'Colour' baskets using lots of objects of a specific colour, and maybe change the colour every few weeks. Or 'Seasonal' baskets including seasonal and weather related objects.

Take a look at Taylor enjoying his Treasure Basket...

Have you made Treasure Baskets for your little ones?
What kind of things do you, or would you have inside?

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  1. Such a great idea, I used to make them for my eldest but haven't done as much for the twins. I love what you have put in yours, they used to keep Lucas entertained for so long. Your little one looks like he is enjoying exploring it xx #sharewithme

  2. This is brilliant and so inexpensive. Even my toddler would love this. Hours of fun. I love treasure baskets & wish i did more sensory activities like this with Evie. xxx

  3. I can already imagine the texture of these!

    I have this one item on our wall. Its a shiny cellophane that I got from my husband's parcel in Manila. I notice that when my son is a baby he wont stop looking at it. So I taped it on the wall and he loves it. Talked to it.

    He is 5 now and that cellophane is still in my wall. More for me than for him. So much memory in it that I cant throw it =P

    Hey maybe I can blog about it!


  4. What a great idea and so good for the little ones and their sensory skills. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  5. We have something very similar called our sensory box. Its amazing how much fun little ones can have with such simple things. The great thing is you can add and take away as often as you want - Thanks for linking up to #ToddlersAndTeens over at Mummy2Monkeys

  6. Cute! Everyone is so busy with their kids these days - when DD was little we just used to open a kitchen cupboard for her! (one full of tupperware - not one full of bleach! LOL) #toddlersandteens

  7. We used to love treasure baskets when the monsters were little, they preferred these over all other toys if I am honest!! Thanks so much for linking up to #ToddlerApprovedtuesday

  8. I love treasure baskets such a great ideas and babies get so much pleasure out of them. I used to make them all the time when I worked in a nursery :) x #MagicMoments

  9. I did this kind of thing with Monkey but haven't yet with LM thanks for reminding me, time to get the Velcro rollers and other bits out again :) xx

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Treasure baskets are wonderful and you have just reminded me I need to get off my butt and sort some out for Elsie. Thank you! And thank you for linking up to #MaternityMatters, lovely post x x x


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