Babies need hands-on learning to develop from feeling their mother's skin and hair to becoming curious about sounds, surfaces, and more. Your baby will learn to crawl and quickly find their way to your plants, the dog's fur, or the tiniest detail on a rug. DIY sensory bins and toys are a great way to stimulate and nourish their inquisitive nature.
Exposing your precious bub to sensory stimulation improves fine motor skills, socialization, communication skills, cognitive development, and independent play.
If you're wondering how to make DIY sensory toys or bins on a budget, check out these ideas below. You don't need to break the bank to create a sensory wonderland for your tiny human.
DIY sensory bin fillers - safe to eat, fun to feel, and everything in between!
Try one item or combine a few and fill a shallow tub with any of the following, listed from safe-to-eat to "eyes on the baby"!
- Foods you'd love your baby to try - i.e. citrus fruits sliced in water; watermelon to mush and taste
- Edible paint made with yogurt and food coloring
- Blended crackers that create a sandy texture
- Colorful, safe, edible water beads, a.k.a. tapioca pearls
- Jello with toys or fruit bits set inside
- Cereal (Give your babe some hard spaghetti for a threading activity with Cheerios)
- Cooked, cooled, and colored spaghetti
- Cornstarch and water
- DIY kinetic sand with cornstarch, sand, and cooking oil
- Colorful rice, beans, oats, or chickpeas
- Dried teabags (watch your baby rip them open)
- Large plastic balls in water or ice tea
- Shredded paper
- Bubble bath - foam it with your hand mixer
- Nature's toys from sticks, stones, pinecones, dry leaves, flowers, etc.
- Buttons (surrounded with maize or sand for baby to seek out).
- Shaving cream
DIY sensory toy ideas
From tummy time to the crawling phase, here are some DIY sensory toys to try:
- Sensory bottles
- DIY music shaker
- Busy boards with latches, mirrors, locks, textured items like sandpaper or silk, and any other bits and bobs you can find in your home or garage
- DIY ribbon pull toy - use a colander with ribbon threaded through
- Dropping and posting tubs
- Touch and feel sensory sticks
- DIY sensory hoop
- Noisy metal items such as pots, pans, spoons, shakers, and more
- Milk formula tin drumkit
- Beanbags with various sized and sounding contents - rice, cellophane, bells, etc.
A parent's tips and hacks for DIY sensory bins
- Always supervise your child and use discretion to choose safe items, depending on your baby's age.
- A tub works great, but so does a large sheet or table cloth on the floor.
- Tape ziplock bags filled with unique fillers on the floor for your baby during their tummy-time.
- Use what is close at hand - your baby might also enjoy playing with your silky scarves.
- Enrich the experience by adding aromatherapy oils and offering tools such as tongs, spoons, or funnels.
- Stimulating more than one sense makes the activity more exciting, so combine contrasting textures and temperatures (warm water + ice blocks)
- Teach your baby words and actions while they play. "This feels cold," "Can you hold the spoon?" etc.
- Have fun with your baby!
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