Have you tried treasure basket play with your baby yet? This idea is great for your baby’s senses and helps them to learn more about the world. It’s also something that’ll keep them entertained for months!
So we’ve put together some helpful tips to help you start this fun sensory play activity with your baby at home. We’ll tell you everything there is to know about treasure baskets. Including what they are. How they’ll help your baby’s development and how you can easily create one at home.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Table of contents
What Is a Treasure Basket?
A treasure basket is simply a basket that’s filled with lots of real-world objects for your baby to explore. This sensory play idea is a great way to encourage your baby to play on their own. It allows them to investigate the items at their own pace. And puts their different senses to work! You may see others call it a sensory basket for babies or discovery baskets but they’re all the same thing.
Who Invented Treasure Basket Play?
An educator called Elinor Goldschmied (1910-2009) invented the concept of treasure baskets. She spent most of her childhood playing with everyday things like mud, water and stones. But it wasn’t until 1946 that she discovered the benefits of babies playing with everyday objects. She worked with deprived babies and single mothers. And found that that giving them a selection of items on a daily basis reduced their crying and anxiety. Elinor Goldschmied continued to promote treasure baskets throughout her life. As well as Heuristic play and the key person approach.
What Age Are Treasure Baskets Suitable For?
Treasure basket play is suitable for 7 month old babies. Most little ones will be able to sit well on their own at this age. And so they’ll be able to freely explore all the natural resources safely. Your baby will love discovering everything the basket has to offer until they’re at least 1 year old.
Why Is a Treasure Basket Good For Babies?
We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits that treasure basket play has to offer. It helps your infant to gain independence and use their senses to explore.
But this activity is also good for your baby’s physical development. At 6-9 months, your little one will love reaching out and holding onto things. And the more they’re able to do this, the quicker they’ll be able to use their hands effectively.
How Can I Make a Treasure Basket?
You’ll need a strong basket when setting up treasure basket play for your infant. Try to make sure your basket is:
- Has a flat bottom
A round basket will let your baby easily grab the resources from any angle. And a sturdy basket with a flat bottom will mean that your little one can lean on it without it tipping up.
Don’t have a basket? Make your own DIY treasure basket using a cardboard box. Make sure it’s shallow enough so that your infant can reach into it. And if possible, try to safely weigh it down to stop it from tipping.
Once you have your basket, you will need a selection of everyday, household objects.
What Should I Put In My Baby’s Treasure Basket?
The original treasure basket had between 80-100 items! But you don’t need to collect that many. Just try to find as many natural, household resources and materials as you can and add them to the basket.
Look for objects that will stimulate all your baby’s senses. Find a variety of things that are:
- Big, small and different shapes
- Make soft and louder noises
- Different scents for them to smell
- Rough, hard, soft, smooth and bumpy. So that they can feel the different textures.
Remember to wash the items before adding them, where possible.
Still not sure what to put in? Here’s our sample contents list of resources and supplies you can use.
- Measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- Other kitchen utensils
- Pine cone
- Wooden peg
- Nail brush
- Pom poms
- Bath sponge
- Rolling pin
- Pastry brush
- Bottle lids
*Beware of using keys. Lots of them (especially brass ones) contain traces of lead.
Want even more ideas? Download our free printable list for 70+ ideas.
Treasure Basket Play Activities For Babies
Now that you’ve created your treasure basket, it’s time for some fun sensory play! Here are some ways you can help your infant during this activity.
Sit your 7 month old+ in front of the basket. And then let them explore and discover independently.
Make sure you’re sitting alongside your baby to reassure them. But try not to give them directions when they’re playing. For example, don’t pick things up for them to hold or shake noisy objects in front of them.
Instead, try to watch what they’re doing and respond to them if they’re trying to communicate with you. So, for example, if they pass something to you, take it from them.
There’s so much for your little one to discover, they’ll have fun exploring for up to an hour!
The main purpose of treasure basket play is to let your baby explore items independently and at their own pace. It’s an easy way to help them learn about the world. And it’s a great way to help them meet developmental milestones for their age.
We’ve shared a few ideas of different things you can add to a sensory basket for babies. But the possibilities are endless. So try adding in other objects you find around the house. You can even create treasure basket play ideas based on different themes. Like a winter sensory basket. A Christmas one or a basket filled with all wooden items.
Remember to use your own judgement when adding items to a discovery basket. Make sure you check for sharp edges and choking hazards. And if in doubt…leave it out!