sensory bins for 1 year olds

The Ultimate List of Sensory Bins For 1 Year Olds (Taste Safe & Choking Hazard Free!)

Let’s face it, as moms we always want to keep our little ones busy and entertained. But beyond the usual go-to activities like puzzles, coloring books and blocks, what else can you do to occupy your one year old’s attention? How about some sensory bins for 1 year olds??

Why not try something new and explore sensory play? Sensory bins are a great way for your toddler to have fun while learning through experience. Not only are they educational but they aren’t too messy or complicated either – perfect for any age group. Plus they give you an excuse to sneak in some quality time with your tyke without having to worry about them reaching for hazardous materials or putting things in their mouth that may not be safe for eating. So if you’re looking for a creative way of engaging while keeping everyone taste-safe and choking hazard free, then look no further than this ultimate list of sensory bins for 1 year olds!

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Sensory Bins For 1 Year Old

Training for Sensory Bin Play

1 year olds LOVE to put things in their mouth, so when starting sensory bin play it’s important to make sure you don’t have anything too small (choking hazard) or not taste safe (example water beads – save these for later!).

A nice way to start sensory bins is to start with water and add scoops and cups. Super simple and you have everything already. You can also put little rubber duckies or other water toys. This gets them used to the sensory bin idea.

Move on to other items like large blocks or pom poms.

At 12 months, a baby’s attention span won’t be long so don’t be surprised if they only last a few minutes to start. It’s totally normal, and a good reason not to worry too much about elaborate setups at this age.

Nature’s sensory bin

Getting outside and playing in nature is a great way to develop your child’s sense of curiosity! From beach trips in the summer playing in the sand to crinkling leaves in the fall, there’s no shortage of natural sensory bins for your child to enjoy!

The best part about nature’s sensory bin is it’s free!

Sensory Bin Tools for 1 Year Olds

We have a Flisat table from Ikea which we love for our sensory bins. You can also just use containers from the dollar store or Amazon.

As mentioned above you can start with things you already own, but as time goes on you can add tools just for your bins.  These are our favorites for 1 year olds:

Learning Resources Sand & Water Fine Motor Set

Four tools for sand and water play will help kids build fine motor skills while having fun

Includes a squeezy bottle, spinner, wavy dropper, and scooper sized just right for toddlers’ hands

Buy it on Amazon

Montessori Toys for Toddlers

Scoops, tongs and cups and pots made of wood.   If you are avoiding plastic these are a great alternative.

Buy it on Amazon

Play Dough Tools for Kids

45 pieces of various shapes of dough tools: rolling pins, pattern moulds, cutters, stamps, etc.

This large collection can be used for so many different bins and your 1 year old can grow into them.

Buy it on Amazon

Sensory Bin Fillers for 1 Year Olds

Blocks and a Muffin Tin

12 month sensory bin ideas

If your little one is in a “putting things into things” stage then this is a great setup for them to practice their transferring skills with their hands.   You can add small tongs to see if they can try to master them.


sensory bins for 1 year olds snow ideas

A great winter bin idea is to bring snow inside. It lasts surprisingly long in plastic. Add some little people, construction toys or just scoops and bowls.

If it’s not winter/you don’t get snow (lucky!) then add ice cubes to the bin or if you have a powerful blender you can blend ice cubes to make a “snow”.

Cheerios or Rice Krispies

Sometimes it’s ok to play with your food.   If your little one does put everything in then mouth then adding a base of Rice Krispies or Cheerios can be a great way to fill a bin.

Water – Lemon Slices and/or Fruit

sensory bins for 1 year olds lemon and berries in a bin

Make some “soup” with lemons and berries.  Your one year old may eat some of the berries but that is ok of course.  After you’re done with them you can scoop them out and put them into a smoothie for a snack.


Oats are small and taste safe, but don’t let them eat too many.  They can be scooped and poured.  You can also hide “treasures” underneath and let them dig and find them.

Cooked Pasta

Long spaghetti noodles, with a little bit of oil to prevent sticking, is a really fun (and messy!) way to play. You can dye them to be colorful, but the effort for the reward at this age isn’t worth it.   Just keep them plain and your toddler will love pulling and squeezing the slippery noodles.

Large Pom Poms

Large pom poms (ones that are too big to be swallowed) are a nice soft addition to your play. They can also be added to water as another sensory experience.  Give them a squeeze and lay them out on a towel and they can be reused.

Oobleck (Cornstarch & Water)

Oobleck is a super fun science experiment. Its a blend of cornstarch (start with 2 cups) and water ( 1 cup) and you can add some natural food dye.  Its in between a liquid and a solid and oh so gooey.  It cleans up surprisingly easy too!

Baby ‘Sand’  

Crush up/blend graham crackers for a really cool sand-like bin.  You can add sand toys and even a little water towards the end for a different texture.

Cloud Dough/Moon Sand  

Another “sand” option is to add 4 cups of flour and 1 cup of oil to make really soft sand.  It can be used over and over if kept in a well sealed container. Just make sure to bake your flour first (bacteria can live in raw floor). Spread out on a baking sheet, bake for 5 minutes at 350 ° F then let it cool.

Kinetic Sand (not taste safe)

As your baby moves away from eating everything, kinetic sand can be really fun indoors.  Its moldable sand with a great texture for building things.  You can add playdoh toys or cookie cutters.

Conclusion: Sensory Bins for 1 Year Olds

Overall, it is amazing how much 1 year olds can learn and experience through sensory bins! Sensory bins allow them to explore their senses, develop motor skills, and generally have fun with them. In addition to that, the safety of your child is the most important factor when playing with any type of material. So be sure to keep these tips in mind when making your own sensory bin! Be sure to experiment with different materials while ensuring taste and choking safety for your one year old. And if you find something that works really well, make sure to share it! What is your favorite sensory bin? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


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