What’s a treasure box?

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post introduces the fab treasure box for babies. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

As babies grow they love exploring – and a wonderful toy to pull out for a full inspection is a homemade treasure box. Here’s why…

When Lola, my first baby, arrived into an already very crowded flat my friend Hannah said I should only allow her five toys at a time. This was good advice, although it turned out to be hard to keep too because so many friends, relatives and neighbours kept giving me things for the baby. Soon the baby had more toys than fingers and toes…

A treasure box is a brilliant toy – don’t have it out all the time else the pleasure of exploring is lost. If your home is child-free keeping a treasure box handy is a great way to entertain visiting infants and toddlers. All grandparents should have one!

How to make your own treasure box
Find a suitable box, like a shoe box. The ideal receptacle is one that needs reuse – no need to splash out for this treasure box. Of course you could decorate it with cut out pictures of the sort of things your target baby might enjoy. Tried and tested favourites include faces, eyes and animals. This is your opportunity to avoid covering a boy child’s games and clothes in vehicles or dinosaurs…

Into the box put about 10 things that will interest a curious baby. Ideally make them different textures and ensure they are either safe to chew and are too large to be swallowed.

Do not include items like a battery which are poisonous (and can only be safely disposed of at battery collection points in your library and some supermarkets).

If you’re anxious about choking then get together with a group of friends and join a first aid refresher course.

Great choices include 20cm of thick chain, a feather, clean plastic bottle with 3-5 bits of pasta inside (or old felt pen lids) securely taped shut. Both are fun to shake.

Add day-to-day items like a plant pot, old glasses case, a wooden item (I use a broken mirror back which is made of wood and thus very pleasing to touch and in time can be used in games).

Different textures to throw in: a lace hanky, a velvet cut off strip, a heavier upholstery weight square, a piece of wood.

For fun add a few toys (find in a charity shop or car boot sale), such as a sheep or hippo. If you are planning to take this to schools with a wide intake leave out toy pigs. Two pieces of lego, or giant lego  are fun too. So’s a paper loo roll middle – in fact add a few so your baby can have a go making a tower and then crashing it down (you can always play with this yourself!).

Over to you
What works well in your treasure box for babies?

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4 Comments on “What’s a treasure box?”

  1. GreenMummy Says:

    Small wooden spoon. Or a small beanbag (even if you’re never sewn, you can easily make one from brightly coloured fabric, and fill with dried peas).

    • nicola baird Says:

      Nice idea. What I especially like about the treasure box is that it is suitable for any child including those with special needs. It’s also quite fun to play with as an adult! nicola x

  2. I’ve had the difficulty controling the amount of toys being given by my generous friends and family! It would be nice to have just a few that they play with, seeing how much fun they can have with a stick or a box I think they don’t need much!

    • nicola baird Says:

      You are so right: kids don’t need much but it’s so easy to get sucked into guilt-fueled purchases – especially working parents and grandparents who aren’t around much. I still have my special childhood toys – a donkey and a teddy! Nicola x

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