This IKEA Storage Case Makes a Great DIY Baby Ball Pit
When my twins started crawling, I really wanted to get them a ball pit where they could engage in full-body play. I knew they would love it because of how much they liked grasping, climbing, and exploring things. And I loved that they could do all of that safely, while being relatively contained.
Because the balls would inevitably end up all over the floor, it was important for me to get one that was easy to put away. But I had a hard time finding that.
This DIY ball pit isn’t just really fun and convenient — it also provides meaningful opportunities for babies and toddlers to develop important gross motor and cognitive development skills. Here are some.
For a baby still learning to control her body, moving around in a ball pit helps her become aware of her body position. She can see and feel how the balls move around her as she stands, sits, or lies down. And she has to judge the distance between her and the edge of the ball pit to climb in and out without getting hurt. These experiences help her understand the relationship between her body and her movement to the objects around her, developing her spatial awareness skills.
Balance and Coordination
A baby uses multiple muscles in a ball pit, and he has to coordinate the movement of different body parts. He uses both his arms and legs to climb in and out, and as he moves around and the balls shift, he has to adjust to the uneven surfaces to keep his balance. Playing in a ball pit is a great way for him to build his strength and improve his coordination and balance.
Cause and Effect
A baby will observe a lot of cause and effect while playing in a ball pit. She’ll see balls piling up and falling out when she gets in and moves around. She might throw a ball and see what happens when it hits another, or roll one and see how far it goes, or even try to stack them and watch them fall down. All of these explorations will help her predict how the balls will respond to her actions and interactions, building her understanding of cause and effect.
My twins and even my older son played in the ball pit together a lot, giving them opportunities to interact with each other. As they got older, they loved throwing balls at each other and emptying the ball pit and filling it back up. It got them to practice working together and cooperating. But even when it was just one of them in there, I would play with him or her and we’d throw balls back and forth, or I’d make my hand disappear in the balls. In all of this play, my twins were building relationships and socializing in meaningful ways.
If you try this, I hope you get as much fun out of it as we did. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a break long enough to drink your cup of coffee while it’s still hot. If not that, at least you’ll get your metaphoric cup filled with baby smiles and giggles. I sure did.
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