Have you ever wondered how to make sensory bottles? Or even, what is a sensory bottle used for?
Sensory bottles are popular with parents of kids with sensory processing differences for good reason.
What is a sensory bottle used for?
Let’s start with the WHY. What ARE the benefits of sensory bottles?
Because as much as I like to ooooh and aahhh over a lovely pinterest or instagram craft, I want to know that there’s some serious benefits and positive side effects.
The first great effect of a sensory bottle or a calming jar is the visual interest and distraction it can provide a child.
These things are seriously mesmerizing. And for a child who is having a sensory meltdown, this distraction can be like a life preserver! Watching the swirling, sinking or floating objects can give a child something to focus on beyond their sensory struggles.
It also gives kids a window of time to start controlling their breathing, which is a vital part of recovering from a sensory meltdown.
Another important benefit of sensory bottles is their weight. Why? Because the weight provides proprioceptive input which is the king of the senses!
This sense is responsible for body awareness and plays a crucial role in the brain’s ability to organize and handle all other sensory input appropriately. So proprioception can help a child handle everything from unwanted auditory input, to picky eating, to aggression!
Proprioception helps the whole body regulate, and that’s exactly what you desperately need during a sensory meltdown!
How can you use a sensory bottle?
Calm Down Bins
Because sensory bottles can help kids regain control during a meltdown, it makes sense that you’ll want to have one in your calm down bin, or in your calm down area.
Glitter glue sensory bottles are great for helping a child visually understand a transition is coming up. Shake up the bottle, put it on the table where you want the kids to gather, and invite them to be seated before all the contents settle down.
Being able to see when a transition is going to occur can actually assist in preventing meltdowns. (Hint: Let the child do the shaking!)
Dancing is great for the sensory system because all the movement provides vestibular input as well as proprioception. Adding these whimsical sensory bottles can extend the dance party or entice reluctant dancers to join you for some sensory play!
Open Ended Play
Whether they build pyramids with them or turn them into light sabers, kids imaginations will go wild over sensory bottles or calm down jars!
How to Make Sensory Bottles
If you’ve ever wondered how do you make calm down sensory bottles, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised and how easy it is!
Honestly, the possibilities are endless! They’re a great DIY sensory toy, and I simply raided our craft closet for materials.
First, you’ll need the bottle! While you can certainly upcycle any bottles you have on hand, you’ll want them to be quite clear and I’d strongly suggest plastic, unless you’re giving the bottle to a teenager or someone who is extremely unlikely to drop it. (Nobody needs broken glass during a sensory meltdown! Eek!)
These are the bottles I got that were super affordable and worked perfectly! Definitely strong enough to be man-handled and crystal clear.
For most bottles, the next step is to pick a liquid filler. For the most part, I just used water, because that’s what I had. If you’re wanting to have two seperately colored liquids, I’ve been adviced to use food coloring for the water, but to use either corn syrup, glycerin, or baby oil as the other liquid and color that second choice with an Oil/Gel-Based Candy Colorant.
Lastly, add something fun and small inside the liquid!
Here’s where your creativity and your child’s interests can really shine!
We made a bottle simply with Water Beads and water! This one gave a gorgeous swirl!
Here’s one with paper clips and water. Simply drag a magnet on the outside to keep kids fascinated!
You don’t even have to use liquid on the inside! For this one we used colored rice and letter beads to create a fun word hunt!
A more seasonal option… We used Leaf Shaped Confetti and lots of glitter, to mimic the magic of Autumn and the swirling falling leaves.
This whimsical one was easy and worked really well. I just threw some buttons and pom poms into some water. The pom poms had tiny air bubbles clinging to them and they often caused a traffic jam for the buttons. It was one of the favorites for sure!
Here’s to fun and preventing sensory meltdowns!!!