DIY Glitter & Bead Sensory Bottles for Baby
Almost exactly six years ago, I made Henry a bunch of DIY baby toys. Him being my first baby, I wasn’t quite sure what would work and what wouldn’t, what he’d play with and what he’d ignore. As I look back, I think most of the toys were okay; but there was one that not only emerged as a major favorite but also stood the test of time: the bead and glitter sensory bottles. Despite banging, chewing, sucking on and crashing these bottles together over and over and over, we still have them all these years later (and Henry still digs them out every now and then to use them in some make believe game!). Since they were such a huge hit for Henry and Sam is now starting to play, shake and roll toys of his own, I knew it was time to make a new set. These DIY sensory bottles for baby couldn’t be any easier to pull together; so if you have a little one in your life who also likes to shake, rattle, and roll, give them a go!
The blue one is floating around the house somewhere, but here are Henry’s original bottles…
Since I kind of made them up as I went along all those years ago, some things turned out great while others were definite lessons learned I was able to remedy this time around. One, I learned that the small curvy bottles were awesome for little hands. However, despite searching all corners of the Internet, I couldn’t find them again (I originally found them as part of Michaels’ summer crafts section 6 years ago). Second, I learned that glitter + colored water makes for a pretty magical combination, without anything else (e.g., baby oil, corn syrup, etc) added to the water. And finally, I learned that the water will wear away paint on wooden beads within just a day or two, so plastic beads and other small items are a must if you want your bottles to rattle! Since I knew exactly what to do this time around, Sam’s set came together in a snap!
I wish I was more savvy with video, because pictures just don’t capture how “captivating” these little bottles are. Even I like to shake them around and watch everything swirl and glimmer!
But what I think doesn’t matter much…how does Sam feel about them? I think it’s safe to say they are already becoming a
well-chewed well-loved favorite…
If you would like to make some glitter and bead sensory bottles, here is what you need!
- Small plastic bottles – As I said above, I searched high and low for suitable bottles. I wanted them small (for little hands), fun-shaped (for interest), and safe (for chewing). Admittedly, I ordered and returned many different bottles and finally landed on this set. Although they aren’t a fun shape, I liked that they were food-safe, small enough for Sam’s hands, and the lids were sturdy, tight and easy to glue in place. When you’re looking for bottles, make sure the plastic can withstand chewing and banging before filling them with colorful liquid and glitter 😉
- Glitter – In a variety of colors, see more below.
- Plastic beads and other shapes – I dug through my craft stash for beads and other chunky items to use in our bottles. I actually bought these sea creature beads back when I first made the bottles for Henry. The Zoo Animal set and Transportation set are also fun options!
- Food coloring
- Water (not shown)
- Super glue (not shown)
It’s fun to make lots of different bottles in lots of different colors, but you likely don’t want to buy dozens of little bottles of glitter (and then end up with lots of leftovers). When I found this handy little rainbow pack of glitter at Michaels, I knew it was perfect for this project. This pack is similar. You get access to all the colors you may want, and in the perfect proportions, with no leftovers!
How to Assemble the Sensory Bottles
Start by assembling your supplies (beads + glitter + food coloring) by color group. I simply dug through all my bead boxes to find an assortment of beads and other doodads in the colors I was using (green, pink/red, blue and gold/yellow).
Next, load your beads and glitter into the bottles. Henry was very excited about this project, so he jumped into help. He loaded in all the beads and then I followed up with 2-3 packets of glitter per bottle. If possible, I recommend using a few different shades of glitter to make it look super sparkly!
Once your bottles are filled to your satisfaction, carefully add water until there is about 3/4″ of empty room at the top.
Next, add a few drops of food coloring to match the water to the contents inside.
I recommend adding 1-2 drops at a time (especially of the darker colors), closing the lid tightly, and then gently shaking it up to see if the water color is to your liking. If the water gets too dark, it becomes hard to see the fun goodies inside.
While they are closed up, you may want to gently tap the sides of each bottle and let them rest a bit to help bubbles (from inside the beads) work their way to the surface.
When you’re ready to finish them up, take the caps back off and very carefully add more water until the jars are as full as you can get them without the contents spilling over. Note that a lot of the glitter may float to the top of the jar. Over time, the glitter will break up and move freely throughout the whole jar. To ensure your bottles stay closed up nice and tight, add a generous amount of super glue to the rim of each lid and twist them onto the jars tightly.
Wait the recommended amount of dry time (as directed on the bottle) before giving the bottles a good shake to test for leaking…
…and then hand them over to baby to play!
When I first made these for Henry, both Greg and I were convinced they would eventually open or leak but they never ever did. Fingers cross the same holds true for this round.
Even though I don’t have any concerns about the safety of this toy…I do recommend only giving these to baby when he/she is being supervised. And as always, please use your best discretion when it comes to the safety of your child.
Admittedly, these bottles are just a touch big for Sam’s hand right now. But as he gets older and bigger, I think they will actually be the perfect size for him to grab single handedly and shake around without a problem!
I briefly mentioned it above, but I just wanted to re-iterate that I don’t add anything to my bottles besides water and food coloring. I’ve read many tutorials that suggest adding some sort of oil to create a thicker, slower-moving solution. I made one with baby oil (a purple one), and there’s a reason it’s not in any of the photos. The oil clumps ALL the glitter together into one ugly mess that doesn’t float and move around the jar at all. (We just dumped it and rinsed off the beads, but I was then out of purple glitter so I didn’t make another one). If you don’t use glitter, the oil might be a good addition. Otherwise, the tiny bit of air that remains in the jars as you close them up produces enough “space” to allow everything to move around quite nicely!
If DIY baby toys aren’t your thing, I hope you at least enjoyed these sweet pictures of our Sam! He just turned 6 months old – he’s rolling and babbling and squealing and laughing. He has four teeth and the biggest smile; and those chubby cheeks have seemingly only gotten chubbier. He gets sweeter by the day, and we couldn’t love him more! And no, he’s not sitting on his own just yet. I’m just really fast with the camera 😉
I hope you all have a great weekend ahead. See you back here next week!
8 Comments on “DIY Glitter & Bead Sensory Bottles for Baby”
He sure is a cutie!
The librarian at the school close to me did something similar to this so the kids had something small to occupy themselves while they waited to check out their books. There is something calming about watching these things!
Great idea/toy! I’m thinking of making a couple for myself, to handle/watch while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic! I can see the beads in oil being hypnotic or soothing.
Wow 6 months already! Sam looks adorable.
A perfect gift for my baby Goddaughter who arrived on my 60th (21st Feb). I love being able to make her small inexpensive gifts, then I can make something for her 3 yr old sister and 5 yr old brother too.
I just made her a set of Alpaca from a fleece baby blanket that I got in the pound shop. I reduced the pattern to 50% to make one to hold and then to 25% and she has 6 on ribbon attached to her car seat and 6 on ribbon for her buggy.
I’ve made her a book to out of linen, felt and fabric. All the pictures were machine sewn onto the pages before assembly and it attaches to her buggy and car seat. Fully washable and great to gum on in church 🙂
Lucy Kent – England
Is it bad that I have a giant one of these on my desk at work? Or that my whole division has them? Mine is made from a glass Voss water bottle and clear elmers glue mixes well with the water to slow the movement of the glitter down. My job can be pretty high stress sometimes and they’re a good time out self care tool! Lol. Love these!
What a beautiful little guy! He sure has the “nom” cheeks! lol You just want to “nomnomnom” until he giggles. 😀 He looks so much like you, mama!
ooh, I’ve never thought of this kind of toy! I’m glad I clicked over here from the keychains post. JJ is 14 months old and I think he’ll love these. I’ve been saving old vitamin bottles, plastic, I think the’ll work fine.
And our librarian may like this activity too, I’ll share with her.
i love this idea. I just found these Wavy Sand Art Bottles from Oriental Trading Company. What do you think? 12 for $15.79. The bottle is 5 3/4 inches tall x 2 inches wide x 1 1/4 inches deep. The opening of the bottle is 3/4 inches. They have all 5 star reviews. https://www.orientaltrading.com/wavy-sand-art-bottles-a2-48_5271.fltr
Sorry for the delay here. These wavy bottles look awesome. I’d just make sure the plastic feels fairly thick/sturdy since babies will bite/chew the bottles. Our original ones held up fine, but just something to think about!
Good luck with your bottles!Megan