Creating a mini DIY ball pit is a delightful sensory activity for infants that encourages exploration, stimulates their senses, and supports their cognitive and motor development. It provides an opportunity for them to engage in tactile exploration, visual stimulation, and even practice grasping and reaching skills. Here’s how to set up a simple sensory ball pit for infants:
Sensory activities for infants seem a bit silly. Infants take in the world through their senses, right? So, why do you need a “sensory activity” for an infant?
Still, sensory activities are fun! This particular one might be my favorite, perfect for entertaining your infant while you pick up or make dinner!
Like many of you, I am addicted to Pinterest. I can spend ten minutes a day browsing and come up with a week’s worth of activities, at least. Here is an example of one I discovered yesterday. Brilliant. Simple. Inexpensive. I like that combination.
Ball Pit for Infants & Toddlers
- A shallow container or inflatable baby pool
- Soft, lightweight balls (e.g., plastic or fabric balls, sensory balls)
- Blankets or cushions for padding (optional)
How to Make a DIY Ball Pit
- Choose a Safe Location: Find a suitable area in your home or outdoor space where you can set up the mini ball pit. Ensure it’s a clean and safe environment, free from any hazards.
- Set Up the Container: Select a shallow container that is large enough for your baby to sit or lie down comfortably. An inflatable baby pool works well for this purpose. Alternatively, you can use a large plastic storage bin or a laundry basket lined with a soft blanket.
- Add Padding (Optional): For added comfort and safety, you can place blankets or cushions at the bottom of the container. This provides a soft surface for your baby to sit or lie on while exploring the ball pit.
- Add the Balls: Fill the container with a variety of soft, lightweight balls. Choose balls that are safe for infants, such as plastic or fabric balls designed for their age group. Sensory balls with different textures, colors, or patterns can add an extra layer of sensory stimulation.
- Introduce Your Baby to the Ball Pit: Lay your baby gently on their back or belly in the ball pit, allowing them to explore the balls at their own pace. Encourage them to touch, grab, and play with the balls. Observe their reactions and provide verbal encouragement and positive reinforcement.
- Engage in Playful Interactions: As your baby interacts with the balls, you can join in the fun by gently rolling or tossing balls within their reach. Encourage them to reach for the balls and practice grasping skills. Talk to your baby, describing the colors, textures, and movements of the balls to enhance their language development.
- Supervise and Ensure Safety: Always closely supervise your baby during sensory play activities. Be mindful of their movements and ensure they remain safe and comfortable throughout the experience. Keep small balls away from their mouths to prevent choking hazards.
- Explore Different Sensory Experiences: Vary the sensory experience by introducing different textures or sizes of balls. You can also experiment with gentle bouncing or rolling movements to provide additional vestibular stimulation.
- Clean and Store: After the play session, clean the balls according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store them in a safe place until the next playtime.
So, go to Amazon and order some $18 Fun Balls, grab your pack and play or simply use the box in which the balls came (or a bigger one, I suggest) and let your infant (and toddler in my case) go nuts.
I kid you not, this activity bought me 1 hour this afternoon. Seal of Approval in my book.
I launched the curious 9-month-old into the big box and let him explore.
He was a little excited at the prospects.
Always time for some oral sensory exploration.
And a little boy impulsiveness…
…and making music.
Way too much fun…
Great for toddlers too.
And…finally…the inevitable…the pickup was actually very easy. We “shot baskets” into the box and color sorted to make it more fun and challenging for my two-year-old.
Creating a mini DIY ball pit offers infants a wonderful sensory experience and supports their overall development. Through tactile exploration and visual stimulation, infants develop their sensory awareness, hand-eye coordination, and motor skills.
This engaging activity provides joyful moments of discovery and bonding between parents and babies.