What Are Sensory Bottles & What Are They For?

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Having spent a lot of time around the preschool set in the last five years, I've picked up on the fact that sensory is the buzzword of the moment. It's common sense that providing young children with a wide array of sensory experiences would be beneficial to their developing brains, but trying to keep up with the latest fads makes me want to go take a nap. These days the internet is buzzing with something called sensory bottles, and contrary to my first impression, they aren't overpriced new feeding devices. So what are sensory bottles and what do you do with them? It takes some exploring of the craft blogs.

According to the popular blog Teaching Mama, a sensory bottle is "a water bottle filled with materials that create a fun sensory experience for babies and toddlers." According to the blog, little ones can shake the bottle to make the objects inside move and give their senses some fun.

In the blog post about how to make a sensory bottle (also known as a "calm down bottle"), blogger Angela Thayer wrote that almost anything goes — there are really no hard and fast rules for making a sensory bottle. Thayer recommended putting glitter, buttons, sequins, and beads (materials that make most parents want to run and hide) inside the bottles. But with sensory bottles, there's no mess — toddlers get to watch these eye-catching items float in the water without getting them stuck in the carpet or worse, their throats.

The Purple Alphabet on YouTube

But the benefits may not end at mere entertainment value. In a post on the blog Rhythms of Play, blogger Nell claimed that "sensory bottles are used to help calm a child when their emotions become overwhelming or as a meditation technique for children. Focusing on the objects in the 'calm down jar' will help a child calm down and focus their attention. As the bottle clears, so does that mind."

Sound too good to be true? It might be worth shelling out a buck on sparkly craft supplies just to find out. Either way, it's something for your kids to play with that doesn't require a lot of screaming. (Or batteries.)