Treasure Baskets for Babies image

Gather a basket of treasures, spread out a blanket under a tree and watch your baby play and explore. 

Wooden Treasure Basket | Conscious Craft

Brilliant inside or out, creating a treasure basket for your baby will not only keep them occupied for ages, but it will also help them learn about the world and develop problem solving skills. Play with treasure baskets is also known as heuristic play, which is any type of natural, creative exploration of or play with objects.

Babies go through three stages of play with objects*:

5-10 months - the first thing babies do is put objects in their mouths. When they are at this stage and they can sit up, if you offer them an object, they mostly want to know: What is this object like?

10-20 months - your baby will start to move around and then they’ll explore how the object interacts with their environment. At this stage, they mostly want to know: What can I do with it? And, what else can I do with it?

20 months and older - once your child starts to understand what an object can do, then they’ll begin to use their imagination. Mostly, they want to know: What can this object become?

If they come across new objects, no matter how old they are, they may revert to the first stage of mouthing it before moving on to imaginative play. 

The basket
Any type of round basket with short sides would be good, so that the basket doesn’t tip over and baby can reach in and choose an object. You could also experiment with a sturdy cardboard box or metal tin. If your baby is struggling to get the objects out of the basket, you can lay them out randomly on a blanket or rug on the floor. Olli Ella's Petite Bolga Basket is great for keeping objects in. Make sure you can fit around 20-30 objects in your basket. 


Treasure basket object ideas
A treasure basket contains a collection of ordinary, natural objects that appeal to all the senses and are safe to put in babies’ mouths. They should be objects you can find in nature or around your home. Include a mix of textures, smells and sounds. 

You can buy ready-made kits, such as this Grapat wooden treasure basket kit. Use a kit as a base and add other objects or make your own from scratch. 


Here is a list of ideas to start you off: 

fir cones
thick string
ribbon or lace
small brush
wooden animals
wooden egg cup with ball that balances on it
honey drizzler 
lemon squeezer
wooden pegs
wooden spool
wooden rings
cubes or small blocks
small bowls
wooden spoon
tea strainers
measuring spoons
shower puffs. 

Playing with treasure baskets will help children develop imagination, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and muscle control. It will also help them figure out the difference between objects which will eventually help them with eating, using tools and even writing.

But most of all, treasure baskets are fun!

Grapat | Conscious Craft


*Developing Play for the Under 3s: The Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play by Anita M. Hughes. This book includes a tribute to Elinor Goldschmeid who came up with the treasure basket and heuristic play ideas in the 1980s. 

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