Babies are constantly exploring objects and trying to figure out how things work. They notice small details, different textures, shapes, smells, tastes. Once your baby can sit independently, they are at the perfect age to be introduced to treasure baskets. A treasure basket is a shallow basket with a variety of different natural, household items that can be taken in and out. It is an opportunity to explore everyday items while feeding that urge to grasp things, move things and figure them out. The beautiful thing about treasure baskets is you probably already have many interesting items in your home. You’ll see that babies prefer these real life items over actual toys.
Here are some examples of items to add to your treasure basket:
Pegs, wooden spoons, shells, scoops, bangles, blocks, spatula, curtain rings, hair brushes, makeup brushes, scarves, fabric, whisk, pinecones, measuring cups, napkin rings, sponges, loofah, small boxes, ribbons, balls, kitchen timer, shakers, big rocks, gems, non-breakable mirror, CDs.
You can also take a quick trip to the dollar store (there are great items to choose from in the kitchen aisle!) or go for a walk and collect some items from nature. There is no need to spend a lot of money. Just start with a basket and a few neat things in your house.
When collecting materials look for items with a wide range of different textures, smells, sounds, colours, shapes and sizes. Look for items that are shiny, smooth, rough, heavy, light, hollow, round. I suggest including 10-20 items in your basket. As babies get older and stop putting things in their mouths, you’ll want to use items that are more age appropriate and of interest to them.
Important: Since everyday household items are not designed to be toys, they require adult supervision. It is your responsibility to make sure items are non-toxic, have no harmful chemicals and are not a choking hazard.
Okay, so you have your treasure basket and your items, now what?
Place the treasure basket in front of your sitting baby. Make sure there are no other distractions around. Let your baby explore independently without intervening, unless you feel they are doing something that is not safe. Limit your interactions and try not to make any suggestions. Have a cup of tea or a coffee and simply watch the magic unfold. My daughter loves treasure baskets and I can already tell she is showing her likes and dislikes for certain items and textures by what she decides to touch and play with and what she leaves in the basket or pushes to the side. Her favourite things to explore right now are metal spoons and cups!
Playing with a treasure basket allows your baby to make decisions, to experiment with real objects, to have a choice and to stimulate their natural curiosity about the world around them. Treasure baskets build fine motor skills, early language development, concentration, coordination and independent play skills.
Want to buy a treasure basket? Just send me an e-mail and I can make one for you to purchase!