I am on a sensory toy kick at the moment. When M was a baby we lived in the States and I don’t remember hearing much about sensory toys. He had all sorts of V-Tech noisy plastic crap toys that irritated the hell out of me. I think I did come across something online about sensory play at some point, or I just had a flash of inspiration, and I ordered some fabric samples and made a cardboard box and put them inside. I wrote “M’s box” or something similar on the outside and sat back and watched as he showed absolutely zero interest.
That was then, this is now. I take L to the Children’s Centre’s Sensory Room once a week (there weren’t Children’s Centres, or Health Visitors, or many free/low-cost baby groups where we lived in the US). It is half-an-hour of sitting in a little office room made up to look like an opium den. A cool bubble machine/lava lamp thing that changes colour, a disco ball, black lights, fluorescent glow-under-blacklight things, shiny fabric, crinkly silver emergency blanket, giant acrylic and foam mirror, and lots of other random stuff, including lots of plastic bottles with random things inside and sealed with electrical tape. It is a lovely bit of time to just sit and chill with L, and they encourage you to recreate some of the sensory toys at home. (If this is a new concept for you there are a bunch of discussions about the sort of things that go into treasure baskets/sensory boxes here).
What I love about the sensory play concept is that you don’t have to waste money on random noisy plastic toys but can use things that would otherwise get thrown away/recycled. This morning, inspiration struck as I was sorting out L’s new dummies. Instead of throwing away the little plastic case they came in, I washed it out and put in some little sparkly bracelets (donated by my Granny who is the go-to person in our family for all things sparkly). I then sealed it with blue electrical tape.
Voila, one free (except for the electrical tape) interesting little shaker for L’s sensory box/treasure basket.
To re-create this all you need is:
- One Avent dummy box (other brands may work – I don’t know what the packaging is like)
- Something sparkly or interesting to put inside
- Electrical tape to seal it
- Dog hair (optional, if like me you have a dog whose hair manages to get in and onto everything. There are a couple of little white hairs sealed inside along with the sparkly bits)
Initially I was put off by the sensory toys because I thought they were not child-safe, but I think the idea is that you get the box of sensory toys out with your baby and sit with them while they explore. They won’t get into trouble even though the things are not officially “toys” because you are there with them to supervise. And obviously nothing immediately chokeable (spell check is telling me that “chokeable” is not a word, but it is a word I use, so I will use it, spell check be damned). But chokeable things sealed inside plastic containers is evidently all the rage. So here we have my latest creation. I’ll post more as I make them.