Nature Discovery Bottles

Discovery bottles, also known as sensory bottles are an extremely inexpensive activity that are quick to put together and are very entertaining for babies (and kids alike).

Baby playing with a discovery bottle with water, rose petals and lavendar

I can't remember where I first learnt about these bottles, somewhere along my teaching journey I would guess. They have been very useful for teaching science with classes and I love that it allows kids to get close to materials without necessary making a mess or having a choking risk in the case of babies.

Baby playing with two nature themed discovery bottles
Discovery bottles seem to be all over the internet at the moment, a quick search on google or Pinterest and you will find many, many examples. The good thing is there are lots of ideas for you to use but really you can fill the bottles with anything you want. Just look around your house and pick things that you think will interest your child. Some good questions to think about are how they will engage the senses. Is it pretty to look at? Does it sound interesting? Will it make the bottle heavy or light? Is your bottle big or small and how much do you want to fill it up? There are no wrong answers!

For my son I was particularly interested in following my Reggio nature theme and make nature inspired discovery bottles. I found a few nature bottles online but nothing that really peaked my interest so after a bit of trial and error I decided on the following:

Two pictures of baby playing with discovery bottles, one with flowers and one with gumnuts
1. A big bottle half filled with water with lavender and rose petals. I find this stunning to look at and I knew that if it engaged me that much then my boy would love it too and I was right! As you tip this bottle over you can see the water splashing about and the flowers stay floating on top so it is pretty to look at from above and from the side, the sound is also quite delightful.
*Update - The water goes funny after a couple of days but it's easily fixed, tip it out and fill it up again with new flowers! We now have daisies and Rosemary floating in ours!

2. A small bottle that is easy for my son to pick up half filled with gum nuts. A mini shaker that sounds great and that rolls nicely along the ground to be crawled after.

My little boy really did enjoy these and they helped to keep him happy and quiet at a time when he was grumpy and overtired and just not willing to sleep. They are on our toy shelf now so that he can access them again when he wants, but I know that next time he needs some soothing and cuddles aren't enough they will be the first thing I reach for!

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the ideas out there? Here are three of my favourite sites for discovery bottles: Sensory Bottles: The What, How & Why at 'Lemon Lime Adventures' which is another good introduction to them. Baby Sensory Play: Discovery Bottles at 'The Imagination Tree', I particularly like how colourful Anna has made them. And Sensory Bottles for Little Ones at Plain Vanilla Mom.  I think I will do the simple coloured water bottles next, I'm sure they will catch my son's attention at this stage, but Jen has shared some great ideas that will be particularly interesting for him when he is older.

Have you tried these with your children? Which ones were particular favourites for them or which ones are you excited to try?

Baby shaking a discovery bottle full of gumnuts

Baby exploring discovery bottles

For more nature inspired baby play I recommend you read our post about leaves, rocks and sticks and sticky nature hearts. They are both simple activities that are easy to set up and help to introduce baby to natural elements.



  1. Alison
    Felicidades por tener a un hermoso hijo, que te inspira y te enseña cada día a descubrir que con cosas simples uno puede ayudar y ante todo enseñar al pequeño para que más adelante este muy estimulado que le va a ayudar en sus decisiones diarias. Me alegra que cada día no te hayas colocado como aquellas mamas que solo hacen cosas monótonas sino que busca descubrir y ayudar a su bebe, sigue adelante y que dios te bendiga a ti y a toda tu familia

  2. Muchas Gracias Elena! Tus palabras son muy agredable. Yo estoy disfrutando ser una madre y Rodri me inspira cada dia. Saludos.


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