Treasure baskets for babies

What are the best toys for babies? Do babies need toys?  Here’s how to make treasure baskets for babies filled with interesting items from around the home to provide your baby with lots of shapes, textures and sizes to explore.

treasure baskets for babies

Treasure baskets for babies

Sometimes referred to as heuristic toys or un-toys, everyday items are free, readily available and provide your baby with an ever changing assortment of  ‘toys’ to enjoy. Their environmental impact is little, as they’re things you already have at home, and they provide a rich sensory experience for your baby to discover.

To make you own treasure basket, take a box or basket which is large enough to hold a few items but shallow enough for your baby to be able to reach inside and chose which objects they’d like to look at.

Gather some items from around the home to fill the basket. As with any kind of play, safety comes first so make sure you’re happy for your baby to handle all the items you choose. You should always sit alongside your baby as they play so you’ll be able to supervise all their exploring, so find a balance between things which are safe and also interesting. You know your baby best so use your discretion in picking items which you know they will enjoy.

Try to include lots of different textures in the items you put in the treasure basket. Some things you might like to include:

Metal: measuring spoons, colander, whisk, large keys, jar lids, tea strainer, sauce pan, bells tied on a string

Natural materials: wooden spoons, bowls and blocks, sponges, large shells, fir cones, twig spheres, woolen pompoms, large pebbles, whole fruits and vegetables

Fabric: scarves and pieces of material including knitted items, cotton, silk, velvet, leather, chiffon, terry, fur

Sit alongside your baby and let them explore. Observe as they pass items from one hand to another, turn them over, put one inside another. You can chat as you look at the items but the key idea here is to let your baby explore the items their way, rather than you having to ‘teach’ them about the objects.

More activities for babies and toddlers

Zero to Two: The Book of Play is full of fun activities for babies and toddlers. Download you copy here!

activities for babies and toddlers 500


  1. says

    We’ve had a treasure basket for C since she was 6 months old and she always loved it.

    At 21 months she no longer has a specific treasure basket but still enjoys playing with things that aren’t toys – her current favourites are pegs and spanners!

  2. says

    Oh, I totally agree and love this! As babies my kids would always gravitate towards these kinds of “untoys”, even if surrounded by actual toys. My girls are almost 3 and almost 5 and still love to play with these things, too! I often combine some things like this with other toys they have like little people, plastic animals, marbles, and the imaginative play takes off!

  3. says

    I agree with this completely! We have a treasure basket that does have some of your typical rattles in it, but my 6.5 month old is currently most interested in wooden spoons, colorful napkins, measuring spoons, and wooden pegs from her sister’s “tool box.”

  4. says

    This is great! We are getting ready to set up our mud kitchen outside (yay for warmer temperatures!) and all of those things are kitchen and around the home items. The girls have had fun just looking and playing with the items, even without the mud!
    I have also found that an empty kleenex box can be one of the best toys for an infant/toddler! They just love hiding things in there.

  5. Kerri says

    Definitely agree! Great post. E loved the rolling pin and various fabrics when she was younger.

  6. says

    Awww… how fun! Lots of things I know my kids would have loved playing with as babies! And so simple… I love it.

    Thanks for linking this project up with For the Kids Fridays! I appreciate you stopping by, and hope to have you back for this week’s party! I’ll be posting it later tonight.

    :) rachel at

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