Sensory bins have quickly become something so many parents are looking into doing with their kids and with great reason! Children greatly benefit from exploring as many of their senses as possible very early on. If you are anything like me, sensory play can be very overwhelming at first. What do I offer when so I’m not over stimulating their minds? What should my expectations be with this play? Mess intimidates me, how can I prepare? These might be a few of the questions that first pop in your head. Today I want to prepare you with as much information as I can before you begin this magical and fun play with your little ones.

I have these broken up into age groups so you can get the information you are looking for based on your little ones age.

0-3 Months Sensory Play

Even though your babies still have sometime before beginning with sensory bins, the play can begin from birth. Newborns benefit hugely from sight sensory exploration so using things like black and white high contrast toys and flash cards to help them focus will be your best tool at this age.

3-6 Months Sensory Play

This is the age I find sensory play can really get fun. You will still be keeping it very simple to not over stimulate them but you can begin to explore things like water and silks.


Play silks are such a fun way for beginning touch and feel senses.

You can add silks into play by sitting out a few to grab while in tummy time, or laying your baby on their back and gently pulling it across their belly or face.

Water Play

Water play is the first sometimes messy sensory play activity you will do. This is a great way to engage your little one in tummy time so they will want to do it longer.

Either find a shallow plastic container or a baking sheet, add some water and a few of their favorite toys. To keep this as mess free as possible you can either add some towels, a rubber play mat or a splat mat underneath while they play.

If you want an easier alternative that won’t involve any mess, you can buy a water mat that you just fill up and they can play that way.

Always follow babies lead at this age, when they begin to lose interest just move on. Especially with these being tummy time activities.

6-12 Months Sensory Bins

Simple sensory bins and activities can typically begin around this age range. My biggest tip for this age is to avoid any small pieces that could be a choking hazard and use fillers that would be edible in case of any taste tests.

Just because it should be taste safe doesn’t mean it cant be exciting, here’s a few taste safe bin fillers for you to try.

  • Jello ( We use Sugar Free ) great to hide toys in for digging
  • Yogurt ( add food coloring ) edible finger paints
  • Chia seeds ( Pre soaked in water ) soaked chia seeds make a really fun texture to experience
  • Cheerios ( blended ) great for a sand like feeling

Use these base fillers and then choose items based on your kids interests to add to your bins.

12-18 Months Sensory Bins

Around this age its great to add some learning features into your sensory bins. You can use sensory play to build fine and gross motor skills while continuing to explore their senses. Some of our favorite ways to add learning into our play is by:

  • Hiding puzzle pieces ( Easter grass makes a great filler option for this )
  • Using post it notes on the walls in different colors to identify with your child while they pull and crinkle them
  • Pom Poms soaked in water ( have your child use a lemon squeezer and squeeze all the water back out to strengthen hand muscles later used for writing skills )

Expand from this list and really start to develop a love for learning that seems fun so as they get ready for preschool in just a short amount of time they will be excited.

18 Months+ Sensory Bins

Sensory bins really begin to explode with fun at this age and moving forward. Most children around this age have stopped trying to eat everything in sight so you can move towards things that may not be completely edible.

Some of our favorite fillers for this age are:

  • Baking soda and vinegar ( makes a scientific reaction )
  • Cornstarch and water ( makes oobleck, a solid and liquid unique texture )
  • Bubble Foam ( 3 parts soap 1 part water to make a thick bubble texture )
  • Moon Dough ( either homemade or store bought )
  • Play Doh

The options are truly endless once you begin to get creative and get into making the play fun for you and your child. Sensory bins are the perfect time to bond with your little ones since you really don’t want to leave them unattended for this.


Add some cars to the bubble foam and a bowl of water to create a car wash, make the oobleck into mud for your pigs and cows, use the baking soda and vinegar reaction to increase fine motor skills with pouring or using droppers to squeeze the vinegar out. The possibilities are endless!

By this age teaching your littles to keep the mess in the bins should become important and just set the boundary with it. My son knows we have a three strike warning with sensory play because it can be very exciting and sometimes an accident just happens. I make sure I acknowledge every time I clean up a mess that comes out of the bin and remind him of the rule. These will have some mess and I have just become okay with that. Messiness is part of childhood and is actually good for them. I always have my vacuum ready and wipes to clean it all up when done.

I hope you were able to take away some value from this article and I would love to know if you will be using any of the information in this to explore sensory play with your children, drop a comment below and tell us what age your family began sensory play!

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