If you are interested in learning about the Montessori treasure basket, you have come to the right place.
Treasure baskets are so fun for babies and they are so easy to put together, too.
Today, you'll learn what a Montessori treasure basket is and when you can introduce one to your baby.
You'll also find out the developmental benefits of treasure baskets and you'll get some ideas on how to set up your own.
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What is a Montessori treasure basket?
A Montessori treasure basket is a soft basket that is filled with a variety of items that are safe for infants and young toddlers.
Treasure baskets allow young babies to explore a variety of objects safely and independently.
Treasure baskets provide an exciting sensory experience for babies that are not yet able to explore their environments further than arms reach.
Treasure baskets should contain enough items so that babies can dig through and explore, but not so many that they will feel overwhelmed.
I find that 8-10 items is a suitable amount. However, you'll find suggestions for over 20 items, depending on who you ask.
What age is a Montessori treasure basket for?
Montessori treasure baskets are generally introduced when a baby can sit on their own, at around 6 months.
There's no need to wait till 6 months, however. Babies can explore treasure baskets, as long as the baskets are soft, during tummy time. (I recommend a cotton rope basket.)
You can even sit your baby in your lap and let them independently explore the contents of the basket before they are able to sit unassisted.
If you've found this post and you think your child might be a little too old for a treasure basket, you should check out Melissa's Montessori-aligned sensory bin ideas post.
How can Montessori treasure baskets help newborns?
Satisfactory sensory stimulation is linked to improved cognitive, physical, and emotional development.
Through the exploration of treasure baskets, babies get the chance to touch, taste, smell, see, and hear a variety of different sensations.
This type of sensory play not only stimulates a baby's brain in important ways, but it primes them for a lifetime of loving to learn through hands-on exploration.
A treasure basket is a place where even the youngest babies get a chance to test out hypotheses and learn cause and effect.
Of course, there is plenty of fine motor practice in a treasure basket, as well.
Treasure baskets are a great way to support a baby during their stages of play, as well.
They are suitable for the unoccupied play stage that occurs in the newborn months and the independent play stage that occurs between birth and the age of 2.
What goes in a Montessori treasure basket?
When choosing what to include in your Montessori treasure basket, you need to take into consideration the following:
- age and ability of the baby (Will they be able to manipulate the items, or will it be a frustrating experience for them?)
- safety of the items (Are there any loose parts that could detach and become a choking hazard? Is this item painted or made with something that is harmful to babies?)
- interests of the baby (Are the items in the basket appealing to the baby? Are they something the baby usually likes?)
Many Montessori parents and caregivers choose natural items, like wood and untreated cloth toys.
This isn't to be pretentious – there's a good reason for this.
Babies often explore the world through their mouths, and plastic and painted wood items often contain harsh chemicals or lead paint.
When choosing items for your treasure basket, simply see to it that everything is visually appealing and safe.
There really aren't any other rules.
For newborns and very young infants, though, you'll find that high-contrast items catch their attention more than the pretty neutral tones that are often associated with Montessori treasure baskets.
Treasure basket ideas
As I stated earlier, there aren't any rules to putting together treasure baskets other than safety and developmental considerations.
Many caregivers, though, enjoy setting up themed treasure baskets for their little ones.
Themed baskets are completely unnecessary for newborns and very young babies, but they can be fun for older babies and toddlers.
They can facilitate conversation and language learning for older babies and toddlers, as well.
If you are trying to come up with some interesting treasure basket ideas, here are a few to get you started.
Every season has plenty of sensory items babies can explore. For fall, a small gourd, cloth leaf, ect. could be placed in a basket.
Cake spatulas, whisks, and mixing spoons are just a few items you can put in a kitchen-themed treasure basket.
If you are not interested in themed treasure baskets, you can simply collect toys and other safe items from around your home.
Sometimes it's helpful to rotate out the items in your little one's treasure basket, so they can explore “new” items.
What tips do you have for caregivers that are thinking about putting together a Montessori-style treasure basket?
What treasure basket items does your little one enjoy?
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