Babies love to explore and experiment with objects.  Why not make your own basket filled with treasures that can be used for sensory play for baby. 

Have you ever given a baby a toy only to have them spend hours playing with the cardboard box, the ribbon and the wrapping paper? When babies explore and experiment with objects such as paper, boxes and ribbons, they are learning about the world around them. Exploration of objects for babies creates and enormous amount of sensory development learning and you can create fantastic sensory learning through exploration of real-world objects you can find right here in your own home.

What is Heuristic play?

Elinor Goldschmeid in the 1980’s coined the term ‘Heuristic play’ which describes the exploration of objects through open ended play for babies. The objects themselves are from the natural world and real objects that you would find around the house.

Heuristic play is moving away from plastic and creating a discovery basket of items that are natural and interesting. Items that stimulate senses, that each look, taste, feel and smell different. Although some items can be plastic, generally the idea is to move away from plastic items, because no matter what the item is, at the end at the end of the day although the colours might be different, plastic smells, tastes and feels the same and will not give the same sensory experience for baby as a natural item would.

How do you use a Heuristic basket?

Create a safe space for baby to explore the objects for half an hour at a time. Then pop the treasure away for next time. Keeping the treasure in rotation makes the items always exciting for discovery and play. The baby then explores all the objects, while the caregiver observes allowing for independent and self-directed play at their own pace.

Items to include in your basket

  • Large avocado stone, lemon.
  • Wooden spoon, wooden peg, wooden toothbrush, wooden paint brush, pastry brush.
  • Flannel, ribbon, sheepskin, knitted toy.
  • Metal lids, tea strainer, metal straw, metal spoons.
  • Pumice stone, loofah, rocks, pine cone, large shells.
  • Sturdy cardboard tubes, small egg box.

When creating your treasure basket all items need to be safe for baby. Make sure all objects are large enough that they are not a choking hazard. Give items a good wash before offering to baby and check for broken objects regularly like loose bristles or splinters especially in wooden objects. Please have all play supervised by an adult.

Heuristic baskets are used by babies who can sit unaided (around 4-7 months old) and are used generally until baby is 18 months old.

Our Main picture contains both items from around the home and also amazing loose part items from Navy Baby.

Navy baby also have fabulous full heuristic sets, wooden ring stackers and wooden blocks.