Baby X loves to explore things. He's very methodical and will spend a lot of time quietly inspecting, so I knew that Discovery Bottles would be a big hit for him. Discovery Bottles are a great way for a baby or a toddler to safely explore materials that might be a choking hazard (or otherwise unsafe for little ones). And as a bonus, we find that Discovery Bottles make great decorations! You can see our Discovery Bottles on display in our Playroom here. :)
For our bottles, we used VOSS water bottles, both because the bottles are pretty and because they are BPA free, that way should X want to lick/mouth them, I didn't feel like I needed to discourage him. Though VOSS is supposedly carried by most of the big grocery store chains, I couldn't find any in our local grocery stores. I eventually found them at a nearby Whole Foods, but you might want to call around before venturing out as I guess they are a bit more of a specialty item than you would expect. I think they run around $1.50 a bottle, but luckily Whole Foods was running a sale on them, and since I purchased several at once they gave me a case discount as well!
Like many preschoolers I know, S does not drink enough water. She's always eager to make things for her brother and to do new "projects" with Mama, so I exploited that by telling her we had to drink up the water in each bottle before we could make each Discovery Bottle. She was very well hydrated for a few weeks there, hahaha.
There are so many things you can put into Discovery Bottles - the sky is the limit! You can also choose to display your items just by themselves (in air), or you can add water, baby oil, hair gel, or some other substrate. The thicker the filler material, the more slowly things move - making it an interesting thing for babies to investigate. If you are filling the bottles with a liquid, I would strongly suggest permanently sealing them somehow. For us, using a hot glue gun on low and putting a bead of glue around the bottom of where the cap meets the bottle worked well. As with everything else, always supervise your baby's play, just to be safe.
S making the first Discovery Bottle - rainbow feathers (purchased at Michaels)
Giving sis a big thank you smile!
Investigating. He liked slowly rolling it to see all the different colored feathers; he also enjoyed "drumming" on it and hearing the soft flutter the feathers made as they jumped.
Another Discovery Bottle - this one is ocean themed - water, sand, and small shells (sand and shells purchased at Michaels)
I just love this photo - he really does concentrate and notice all the little details in the bottles. The shells make a really soft clinking noise as you roll the bottle, and of course if you shake it up, it's fun to watch the shells and sand settle to the bottom as he's doing here.
For another bottle, S had decided she wanted to do floating sequins and I found this pack of cool looking multi-colored butterflies that met her standards. We decided to suspend them in baby oil to make them look like they were floating/flying. As S was adding the butterflies, she pointed out that if we bent the wings they would look more like they were flying. What a smart girl! Why didn't I think of that? :) She ultimately decided to fold the wings of about half, and leave the other half of the butterflies flat.
Presenting to little X.
If you have an older sibling making Discovery Bottles, it's fun for them to get to play with the extra materials. Here we took the extra feathers, sand, and shells and made a crazy world for S's plastic guys. She really wanted to make an actual ocean in there, so she dug a "pit" that we filled with water. The tray she's playing in is one of our favorite reusable play items - a disposable turkey basting pan. I got it at the grocery store for around $2 and we use it for lots of our small world play. It comes with a clear plastic top, so you can always seal things in there if you don't want small hands getting in there while you aren't using it.
Another shot of S's crazy ocean world.
Because making the Discovery Bottles was dependent on S finishing the water, we averaged about one a day over around 2 weeks. I always have S present the item she's made to X, and when he'd see her coming with one he'd start giggling and flapping his arms. He just loves his Discovery Bottles!
In addition to the Discovery Bottles seen here, I sent S on a Rainbow Scavenger Hunt and we created a set of Rainbow Discovery Bottles which you can see here!
Please always supervise your infant/child at play. Please stay within arms reach and never leave infants/children unattended.