Tag Archives: sensory bottles

Baby Play: Sensory Bottles

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Sensory play is very important for all ages but especially for babies. Babies are exploring concepts (like gravity and motion) and textures for the first time. Their brains are growing at exponential rates as they learn how they can manipulative the world around them.

There are so many ways to encourage sensory play in a storytime setting. I regularly use textured tiles, liquid tiles, sensory boards, sensory bags, and, more recently, sensory bottles. Unless the program is designed and advertised as play only, I avoid sensory bins (except for water play) since objects inside those bins are often choking hazards (and there isn’t enough time to clean up beans, rice, sand, or water beads from the floor between story times).

Sensory bottles allow little ones to manipulate liquids without getting wet or manipulate small objects that would be a choking hazard or dangerous if left out for free play.

My most recent set of bottles included:

  • Mixtures of oil and water with food coloring
  • Water Beads
  • Water with small plastic spoons
  • Hair gel with suspended items
  • Oil with chunks of floating glitter glue

You can also add objects to create sound bottles like:

  • Paperclips
  • Thumbtacks
  • Googly Eyes
  • Keys

How to Make Sensory Bottles

Materials: Voss water bottles (the best type of bottle), materials to fill bottles, clear packing tape


  • Empty Voss water bottle. Carefully peel off all labels. These should come off cleanly with no leftover residue.
  • Fill bottle with desired items or mixture.
  • Wrap 2-3 layers of clear tape around bottom of cap.

Cost: $12+ (depends what you have on hand)

Time to Make: 5 minutes

Tips: Voss bottles are the way to go. These are the perfect size for small hands and the labels peel off perfectly, creating a clear, smooth surface.

You can hot glue the bottle closed as well, but babies will not try to peel off tape they can’t see. Clear packing tape around the clear bottle is essentially not visible to little ones, so they don’t try to open the bottle. We’ve never had a child successfully get into a taped bottle.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What happens when you shake the bottle?
  • What sound does the bottle make if you shake it?
  • What happens if you turn the bottle upside down?
  • Do the items in the bottle float?
  • What colors are in the bottle?
  • How many items are in the bottle?
  • What would you put in a bottle?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity: