The Ultimate Sensory Play Activity for Babies – Basket of Treasures

Jun 4, 2018 | Montessori Parenting, Sensory Play | 0 comments

Sensory Play from Birth

Although your newborn is pretty much immobile in terms of physical ability, his/her sensory education actually began at birth as you held him/her in your arms. Touching, hearing, and smelling mom signal the start of a child’s sensory awareness education. Although there are many sensory play activities you can do with a baby, the Basket of Treasures is the ultimate sensory place solution that combines all 5 senses in one go.

brain development in children

The Ultimate Sensory Play Solution – Basket of Treasures

All around your baby is a magical world of everyday objects just waiting to be discovered and explored. Once your baby is able to sit and hold things, he/she will love to explore a “treasure basket”. Basically, it is a low basket or sturdy box you have filled with lots of interesting household objects and things from nature. The objects must be large enough not to be swallowed and free from sharp edges or anything else that might be harmful when they are touched, and quite possibly mouthed, by a young baby. Older toddlers enjoy the basket, too – just keep introducing new objects, hiding some in small boxes to intrigue them.

What’s Inside the Basket of Treasures?

The three main elements of the sensory play treasure basket are: wonder, surprise, and discovery.

While adults tend to rely only on sight, infants and toddlers often use all 5 senses when they are exploring their surroundings. Objects that have a distinct visual pattern or texture on their surface, a distinct aroma, that are cool to touch (i.e. stone), or which make a noise when moved are especially intriguing. To a young child, everything is new and exciting. To construct your basket of treasures, gather between 50-100 objects, each with distinctly different characteristics: shape, color, texture, weight, and smell – use your imagination and common sense. Make sure you use new household items for your treasure basket and wash them before use.


Ideas for Treasure:

  • Plug and chain
  • Bell
  • Measuring spoon
  • Small whisk
  • Pinecone
  • Sponge
  • Avocado pit
  • Feather
  • Large pebble
  • Shell
  • Spoon
  • Wooden egg
  • Pastry brush
  • Block
  • Shoe brush
  • A small mug
  • Spice jar
  • Salt shaker
  • Small paperweight
  • String of bead
  • Satin and velvet ribbons
  • Ball of knitting wool
  • Small purse
  • Silk scarf
  • Pompom
  • Keyring
  • Rubber ball
  • Soap saver
  • Toothbrush
  • Shower pouf
  • Bangles

Like any baby play ideas, safety is the number 1 factor when it comes to sensory play. When you are putting together your basket of treasure for your little baby, avoid the following objects:

  • Small objects with choking hazards
  • Objects with sharp edges
  • Objects with loose threads, flakes, or pieces
  • Anything that might be harmful if mouthed
  • Materials finished with non-colorfast dyes

Sensory Play with All 5 Senses

Select Objects with the 5 senses

Babies love to explore real things that are very different from their plastic or soft toys. When choosing objects for your sensory treasure basket, try to choose a variety of objects with subtle colors, textures, sounds, tastes, and scents.


Sucking has been a source of great satisfaction for your baby since birth, so expect every object in the basket to be sampled in his/her mouth. As long as objects are clean, smooth, and safe, you do not need to limit this experience. Include only safe items for tasting in the basket – your baby will decide what tastes good and what does not.


Sharp contrasts were important in the early days when your baby’s vision was still developing. But as your baby grows, he/she would have developed adult acuity. Your baby can appreciate more natural colors, subtle shades, and combinations of shapes. Include simple household items of different look and colors can have great appeal.


Beans and seeds in small, sealed bottles and jars make interesting sounds, i.e. tiny bells or crackly paper inside tightly tied drawstring bags. Metal chains, strings of beads, and measuring spoons clatter against other object and jangle when they are shaken. These are all good items to be included in your sensory basket to stimulate the sense of hearing.


Include things that have a distinct visual pattern or texture on their surface such as a pinecone are especially. Cool to touch objects such as solid glass and polished pebbles are of interest as well, unlike plastic toys, which all tend to feel the same.


Your baby has a highly developed sense of smell and will appreciate some carefully chosen scents in the basket. Try bags of herbs, sachets of lavender, and a lemon. Or put scented candies, vanilla pods, or coffee beans inside a salt shaker to stimulate the sense of scent.

How to Play?

The treasure basket can entertain young children for long periods of time. From our experience, half an hour would not be unusual. With infants, keep in mind that it is very stimulating, so is best offered when your child is well rested and alert. Here are a few things to keep in mind when doing the treasure basket sensory play.

  • When you first introduce the basket of treasures, do not give too many instructions.
  • Just select an object, carefully examine it, and put it back in the basket. Your child may reach for it as soon as you put it down, or he/she may choose something different. It doesn’t matter.
  • Stay close to your child but allow him/her to explore things on his/her own. Babies like us to be nearby, but they do not want us to always interfere and dictate their next move.

Let Your Baby Explore

When your baby has exhausted the possibilities of the treasure inside the basket, there is still the textured basket to be investigated. An engaged baby may spend 20 or 30 minutes exploring the contents of the treasure basket – allow your baby to decide when he/she has had enough. To further enhance the sensory play experience for your baby, you can play some soothing classical music in the background.

We hope you like the basket of treasure. Let us know if you’ve tried this ultimate sensory play idea with your little one and if you have any suggestions by commenting down below!


brain development in children

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