Sensory Bins for Babies and Young Toddlers - Teaching with Faith (2024)

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A great way to engage babies and young toddlers while promoting development is through a sensory bin. Sensory bins are captivating containers filled with textures and materials that promote sensory development, fine motor skills, and cognitive stimulation for littles. This can be a great way to keep your child occupied while cooking dinner or trying to homeschool and older child. To create a sensory bin, choose safe materials, use a shallow container, and consider engaging themes. Here are the top 10 sensory bins I have used with babies and young toddlers.

DISCLAIMER: Always supervise children during sensory play to ensure their safety and actively participate to support their learning and enjoyment.

Here is my favorite container for sensory bins:

1. Soft Textures Sensory Bins

Fill a shallow container with various soft-textured items such as plush toys, fabric swatches, and sensory balls. Babies can explore the different textures through touch and sensory exploration. Give your child space to explore, you might be surprised as to what happens.

2. Edible Sensory Bin

Create a sensory bin using safe edible materials like cooked pasta shapes, cereal loops, or small pieces of soft fruit. Ensure that the food items are appropriate for your child’s age and always supervise them closely during play. This is great for some old stale cereal that you want to use up since you bought it and then your child probably didn’t want to eat it any more. You can give your child some spoons, scoops, or cups to allow them to manipulate the food as they want.

3. Water Sensory Bin

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Fill a shallow tub with a small amount of water. Add floating toys, bath cups, and safe waterproof objects for babies to explore and splash in the water. Always supervise babies closely during water play. This sensory bin for babies is one of my favorites. When we set it up, I put it on a towel and just let him crawl back and forth to it. He had a blast splashing the water.

4. Sensory Bags

Place different textured items such as soft fabrics, crinkly paper, and smooth plastic toys in a large resealable bag. Securely seal the bag and let babies manipulate and explore the textures through touch. If you are getting really adventurous you can do this with paint. Watch as they squish the paint all over. It is a great way not make a mess while introducing new textures. Also this one can be done in a high chair or other confined area if you need your child up off the floor.

5. Discovery Sensory Bin

Create a sensory bin using safe household items like wooden spoons, empty containers, and silicone baking cups. Babies can practice grasping and transferring objects while exploring their different shapes and sizes. This is a super easy and adaptable sensory bin. Grab what you can and let your child play. Next time grab other supplies.

6. Nature Sensory Bin

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Collect natural materials like rocks, pinecones, shells, and leaves. Babies can explore the different textures and shapes while connecting with the natural world. Just be careful if your little one is still putting things in his or her mouth that you find bigger objects that won’t hurt him or her. My little one loves to crinkle leaves and this gives him that opportunity.

7. Sound Sensory Bin

Setup your bin with items that produce different sounds, such as rattles, bells, or musical instruments. You can even create your own baby safe ones by putting any smaller objects into togo containers and sealing them shut. Babies can shake, tap, and explore the auditory sensations. My baby loves to just pick them up and throw them right back down to see what sound that makes!!

8. Garden Sensory Bin

Fill the bin with potting soil or sand. You can create your own soil or sand with flour (make sure to pre-bake it to make it taste safe) and oil. Just keep adding oil and flour until it is the constancy you want. You can even make it brown with food coloring. Then you can include child-safe gardening tools, small potted plants, and artificial flowers. Babies can dig, plant, and explore the sensory aspects of gardening. This would be a great spring activity and with less mess than letting them free in the garden.

9. Rainbow Sensory Bin

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Arrange materials of different colors, such as colored rice, pom-poms, fabric scraps, homemade sand, or foam blocks, in a rainbow pattern in your sensory bin. You can even just put them all in mixed together. Provide them with some cups or even an old egg carton with different sections colored each color. Allow your baby to sort on their own. It probably won’t be correct, but that is okay because this visually stimulating bin encourages color recognition and sorting. If your toddler is a bit older, check out my lessons on learning their colors. These bins would be a great addition to those activities.

10. Sensory Shakers

Our last sensory bin for babies and toddlers is not really a bin per se, but a sensory experience. Fill small containers or bottles with different materials like rice, beans, buttons, or beads. Secure the lids tightly and provide them to babies for shaking and exploring the sounds and textures. This one is great to give to a child that needs to be contained because they can explore in a chair easily. We have a great calming sensory bottle that I love to give to my little one to just look at over and over again.

My friend, Megan over at My Full Heart as a ton more baby sensory bins for you to look at. Click on this cute picture to see all of her ideas:

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Sensory bins offer a wide range of benefits for babies and toddlers, fostering their sensory exploration, cognitive development, fine motor skills, and language acquisition. These engaging play experiences provide opportunities for creativity, imagination, and problem-solving as well as a way to entertain when you need to be hands-off. By creating safe and stimulating sensory bins tailored to their developmental stage, you can nurture their little ones’ growth while fostering a sense of joy and wonder in their early years.

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