Tuesday 1 July 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: Treasure Baskets For Babies

Hands down, one of the best, most versatile and educational toys our girls have owned from around 5 months to a year have been their home-made treaure baskets. Culturetot will play with the contents of hers for up to an hour at times. She has favourite items and discards others, but I've seen her examine almost everything over the last few weeks. She's now beginning to explore how one item can affect another through banging them together, using one to move another, and putting one thing inside another. She's also starting to move herself to reach objects that have escaped her grasp. The lovely thing about this toy this time around is that the girls can also play with it together. I hear Culturebaby telling Culturetot about the contents. This is great for her language development too, and for their relationship.
The theory goes that a baby's first playground should give them flexibility to move and explore, observe the action, sounds and conversation elsewhere in the room and practice using their muscles. They are also sensorial explorers, taking in information and learning through an exploration of all the senses and through handling objects of a range of materials. 

Treasure baskets are a perfect way to present a baby, who isn't yet very mobile, with a playground of scintillating objects to discover and explore that can be rolled, sucked, posted, scrunched, shaken, banged and squished. The ideal basket will contain everyday and interesting objects from around the home and from nature. You don't need to buy anything new. Through testing with both girls we have discovered that the best sorts of basket are round, open and relatively flat so that the baby is able to see many of the objects available, whilst there are still a few surprises to uncover below.

First treasure baskets (we will explore others later) should contain a range of natural textures and very little plastic as much of this feels the same and presents little challenge or variety. Look for a range of temperatures from warm to cold; things that make a noise; a range of textures from rough to smooth, shiny to matt; organic and natural materials; a range of colours, shapes, weights and even scents; solid and squashy materials. Obviously nothing too small, toxic, fragile or a choking hazard. Plus I always supervise...

Try to get each of the following in there somewhere: metals, natural items such as stone, shell, organic material, textiles and leather, very sturdy glass, mirrored material, bells, shakers, wood, paper and rubber. 50 objects is a good number to start with. You can keep changing and refreshing items as they become less interesting to the baby.

Here are Culturebaby and Culturetot's first baskets:





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