The perfect way to nurture your baby’s curiosity

Understanding the benefits of using treasure baskets to support your baby’s development and a step-by-step guide on how to create your very own

Have you ever noticed that your baby is often interested in your keys or a wooden spoon in your kitchen rather than their brightly coloured plastic toys? Well after reading this blog you may understand a little more about why they interest your baby so much and how these household objects can benefit your baby’s development.

Early Years research has found that bright colours and manmade materials can often be overwhelming for babies when they are exploring. It is suggested instead that babies will find objects made from natural materials, with muted tones, more engaging. At our nursery we encourage children to experience play using natural materials and authentic resources at every possible opportunity, including our very youngest babies. This is because plastic offers babies little sensory stimulation compared to natural materials that often have varying tactile qualities.

So, you are probably wondering what exactly is a Treasure Basket?

A Treasure Basket is a basket filled with a collection of everyday objects that will support your baby’s development through sensory exploration. The Treasure Basket was originally pioneered by Elinor Goldschmied who dedicated her later career to teaching others how to best support children’s wellbeing and learning in Early Years settings. Goldschmied established the Treasure Basket after recognising that babies are fascinated by household objects and developed the idea that young babies learn effectively through their own investigations of these everyday items.

The most appropriate time to use a treasure basket with your baby is when you baby is first able to sit, supported by cushions for steadiness, until they are able to crawl and walk. It is so exciting for babies when they first learn sit, suddenly they are able to see the world from a whole new perspective. However, this can also be very frustrating for your baby, they can often be sat and realise there is an object they would love to explore that is completely out of their reach. The Treasure Basket provides your baby the scope to explore before they are able crawl or walk. You will probably be amazed at your baby’s level of concentration as they explore the objects, your baby may spend up to an hour exploring the objects inside the basket! Your baby will get lots of satisfaction from being able to explore, select and reject object using all of their senses.

The good news is a treasure basket can cost you nothing to create. All the items for your treasure basket can be found from around your house. Alternatively, items can also be bought for not much money from hardware and household stores. Objects that you might find inside a treasure basket include: a bunch of keys; wooden curtain rings; wooden pegs; metal spoons; pinecones; large seashells; bath scrunchies; a nail brush; egg cups; a tea strainer; large lids from a jar; a whisk; a hairbrush or wooden cotton reels.

Supporting your baby’s development

Your baby’s brain develops through making lots of connections which happen from being exposed to a range of sensory experiences. Treasure baskets provide your baby with lots of sensory feedback, as your baby uses all their senses to explore the items that have a variety of textures, tastes and sounds.

The benefits of using a treasure basket also include:

  • Your baby is able to practice their hand-eye coordination as they reach inside the basket for specific items
  • Helps your baby develop their concentration and attention skills
  • Your baby is able to make choices and develop preferences as they explore the items
  • The treasure basket provides your baby with the opportunity to explore their own styles of learning. For example, some babies enjoying filling containers while another baby may love to watch items roll.
  • As your baby explores the treasure basket independently it provides them with a feeling of control which will also support your baby’s self-esteem.
  • Using a treasure basket also helps to stimulate your baby’s movements

Making your own Treasure Basket

  • Ensure that the basket itself is sturdy and has a flat base, to ensure that if your baby leans on the basket it will not tip up. The basket is usually made from a woven material such as wicker or willow.
  • It is also a good idea to choose a basket that have a large opening so that your baby can clear see what is waiting inside to be explored.
  • Fill the treasure basket with your chosen objects, the fuller the better to help make it as engaging as possible for your little one.
  • Just like us, your baby will become bored when things become too familiar, therefore it is a good idea to swap and replace some of the resources inside the treasure basket from time to time. You can also go on to create themed treasure baskets, such as baskets full of wooden objects, or objects for rolling or metal objects for making exciting sounds!

Using the Treasure Basket with your baby

Place the treasure basket somewhere comfortable for your baby to sit, such as on a cosy rug. Sit your baby to the side of the basket, allowing them to rest their elbow on the side of the basket for support, also provide cushions if your baby still requires support sitting up. When your baby is exploring the treasure basket you need to allow them to lead their own discoveries. It is important that you are attentive as your baby handles the items out of the basket, to ensure safety and social contact, but try not to intervene or direct your baby. One of the precious qualities about a treasure basket is that it allows your baby to make choices at their own pace. Sitting near your baby will provide them with the security to explore the treasure basket independently, knowing they can check in with you when they need to.

Safety!

Before each time you use the treasure basket with your baby always double check:

  • The items you have chosen are safe for your baby to put in their mouth
  • The items in the basket are still safe and not broken
  • The items in the basket have been washed or wiped with disinfectant between each use

We hope you have lots of fun creating a treasure basket for your little one!