There are mountains of toys on the market, advertised to help your baby’s learning, development, curiosity, mobility and so much more. However, there is such a thing as too much choice and how do you know that the toy will be enjoyed by your little one before handing over your money?
Why not take it back to basics and put together your own ‘Treasure Basket’ for your baby?
The concept was conceived and put into practise by Elinor Goldschmied after the Second World War. Treasure Baskets are created for young children, who are not yet mobile, to explore a variety of natural, household object at their own pace and in their own time.
You may have already observed your baby’s interest in every day items, such as the contents of your bag, the remote control, kitchen items…anything that you would prefer their little hands not getting hold of usually!
These items have two key elements that ensure they are of interest to your child:
You can put together your little ones Treasure Basket with everyday items from around your home, so it is the perfect activity to put together during this time when we are encouraged to stay at home.
The basket – as your child is not yet moving, you will need to sit them next to the basket to explore what is inside. So, the best style of basket is one with low sides and a wide base that will not tip if they lean onto it to reach inside. Your basket can be wire framed or traditional, whatever you have around the house as long as it is not plastic.
Your basket should consist of a range of non-toy objects, made up of natural material – no plastic! Try to find different textures and make sure the objects do not have any shape edges.
Kitchen utensils – you can find a range of treasure in your kitchen draws, such as spoons and strainers.
Brushes – a range of different brushes are a great addition to your basket. Including, cosmetic brushes, paint brushes, tooth brushes or even feathers. Make sure all brushes are clean or new as children explore with their mouths.
Spherical objects – children love balls of different kinds, from tennis balls to mirrored or decorative balls. Just make sure they do not pose a choking hazard.
Filling and emptying – find a range of small boxes or tins that your baby can fill and empty with other objects. This will also help them understand weights and problem solving.
Strings – as your little one examines their treasures under close observation from you, this is a great opportunity for them to look at items such as ribbons, plug and chain or key chains. These items should not be given to a child without the observation of an adult as they pose a strangulation risk.
Sounds – your treasures should encourage your child to use all their senses. So, make sure include small musical instruments such as bells, whistles and maracas for your child to explore sounds.
Scents – simple and natural scents, such as herbs and lavender in pouches for child to explore their sense of smell. Make sure to keep the scents natural, avoiding perfumes as these can irritate your child’s skin or eyes.
Your Treasure Basket should be full of items for your child to explore. So, try to find at least one or two items from each section. Now for the fun part!
Once your Treasure Basket is ready to go, put it on the floor with plenty of space around. Sit you child side onto the basket so they can easily reach in and explore the objects in their own time and at their own pace.
Make sure to observe your child at all times to ensure they are safe whilst interacting with the objects. However, position yourself away from the activity itself to all ow your child the freedom and independence whilst exploring their senses.
At nursery, we have up to four babies around the Treasure Basket to explore together. You can do this at home too as long as all the children are not yet mobile.
Once your child has appeared to lose interest in the Treasure Basket, put it away and out of reach. Then re-introduce it another day. You can do this over and over again as your little one will find different objects interesting at different times.