There are so many ways that babies learn through play and discovery. You can encourage their exploration with these easy hand-made sensory toys much cheaper than those fancy toys and play things you find in the store. You probably have most of the essential materials already around your house.
Water is a wonderful way to create various play opportunities that encourage and stimulate different sensory skills. For older children, water tables make great outdoor play during the spring and summer. Here are a few water toys that you can make for babies and young children.
Water Sensory Mat
I always loved water mats. I think they are really neat sensory toys that babies and toddlers get a thrill out of. It helps them learn hand coordination and cause and effect. There are many different types of water mats that you can buy- some you can place baby on to play and some with extras. Personally, I preferred this home-made version which I would put on the table and let my daughter play with in her high chair pushed up to the table. This allowed me to keep an eye on her while washing dishes or cooking as she played in amazement watching the objects move around as she bat at them. All you need is a gallon freezer ziploc bag, duct tape, water, and a few small items that won’t poke through the bag to add. You can use small toys, glitter, confetti, or whatever you choose. Fill the bag with water then seal. Go around the top with duct tape to secure it. You could also use colored hair gel that you can purchase at the dollar store instead of water.
Sensory Water Bottles
This is super easy. Take some plastic water bottles and add fun items that you can fit through the top. These can be small buttons, beads, marbles, glitter, and anything else you can think of that would make a great visual aspect. Fill the water bottle with water. Use super glue to glue on the cap to prevent spills from happening. Watch your baby shake the bottles and watch in delight at the items spinning around in the bottle.
See more water bottle toys at: Imagination Tree
Baby and Bean Bags
Bean bags are fun sensory toys that you can easily make to give babies a great textural component. Babies can touch and feel the textures of the contents. These can also grow with your child into toddlerhood. Use them to play catch or a game of bean bag toss. Use different colored/pattern pieces of fabric to make these.
I would cut fabrics into rectangles rather than squares to make it easier. For 4-inch bean bag squares cut your fabric into an 8×4 in. rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half with the right sides of the fabric together so it’s inside out. Sew each side of the square so that the ‘top’ part of the bag is left open for filling. Turn the bag right side in and fill. You can use rice, pellets, or dried beans for filling. Sew the top seam together and there you have it. If you are hand-stitching be sure to sew it tightly and secure loose ends to prevent spilling. I would not recommend these to infants younger than 1 because of the possibility of busting.
Fabric Wipes Container
I got this idea from a fellow stay at home mom as a really neat way to reuse those wipes containers. Personally, I hate throwing things away that I think I can repurpose something out of. Wipes containers can have multiple uses especially for making a fun engaging game for baby. When my daughter was little, she loved pulling out all the wipes from the container which drove me crazy until I found this idea. Take pieces of fabric squares and put them in an empty wipes container. Pull the first one up just enough to let your baby pull it out and let them have at it.
Stay tuned. More Do-it-yourself toys to come!