Infants – Shelf Ideas


In our shelves we have a simple small black and white ball, two rattles and a teething ring. Notice how all the materials are natural, simple and nothing plastic or battery operated. Little ones are drawn to natural materials – they feel better, look better and taste better (apparently!). When choosing rattles, put the rattle close to your ear and shake it. Is it loud or abrasive? Ditch it. If it was for you, imagine what it’s like for your bubbas’ sensitive new ears. Always check each of your materials (toys) before each use for missing, broken, loose or unsafe parts. Keeping shelves simple, uncluttered and low allows for easy access and is easy on the senses. Also keep in mind the baskets/trays you put things in – they will likely end up in mouths too so make sure they are safe, not sharp, no bits are easily pulled off etc. These little ‘baskets’ were from IKEA and super soft. 

Another idea is to use balls for early movement (make sure they won’t roll too far out of reach as early slitherers and crawlers are not up to that challenge yet). Also pictured is:

  • An object permanence box with returning ball (hand eye coordination, cause and effect, sequencing, etc.)
  • Rolling material (same concept as for balls except this one will make a sound as the balls move inside)
  • grasping/teething materials. 

In this shelf set up, the infant is given choice with multiple grouped objects in the same basket (I always use soft baskets at this age, never hard trays). The shelf is simple, low and uncluttered. Make the area more inviting by using a comfortable rug, or soft mat for Bub to lay on/sit on.

As your child grows, the materials increase in complexity. Pictured is: 

  • An egg cup and ball (precision, hand eye coordination, strengthening of grip)
  • Ball (for rolling, only goes a short distance, also feels interesting) 
  • Sensory bottles (sound, watch how the objects inside move – hot glue the lids on!)
  • Rings on rocking base (see my earlier post about this piece of equipment- it’s fantastic to use)
  • Object permanence box with returning ball (sequencing, indirect preparation for writing by working left to right, hand eye coordination, cause and affect)
  • Movement object (will roll a short distance but also make a sound as the balls inside move)
  • 3 rings on a dowel (first aim is to get all 3 on, size order will come later). 

As with all our shelves, everything is natural and not battery operated or light up etc. (rings on the rocking base are plastic as I have never been able to find a wooden one). Everything has a single purpose and inbuilt control of error. I like using these cube shelves from Bunnings as the child can clearly see where things are meant to be returned to and what options are available.

Even more abstract is:

  • The object fitting exercise of a ‘person’ in a holder (this one is a few steps up from ball and cup, egg and cup, etc.)
  • Maracas (to experiment with!)
  • Napkin rings on a dowel (more tricky than rings or cubes on a dowel due to finger placement to hold on edges)
  • Basket of known objects (to examine, name items etc.)
  • Posting/object permanence box (this one requires a pushing action with a knitted ball instead of just dropping a ball through the hole, the yellow lid flips side to side to retrieve the ball)
  • Ring stacker (you can start with every second ring at first for more obvious differences in size. The initial aim is to get them all on, sizing comes later. Please don’t name the colours in this activity as it is not a colour activity)
  • Box with bins (individual bin drawers tilt forward to open instead of sliding out, fantastic for flexibility of the wrist). 

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