A small bag for a baby to contain toys for a journey? Or a 'Sounds Bag' to help develop speech, with numerous small things to find inside? Or a rucksack as a present for a toddler?
My little bag could be all of these, and more. I used the pattern that can be found here, and my blog covers some other tips for making it. But thanks to Indietutes for the pattern and the instructions - even though, as I so often do, I did things a bit differently.
Among other things, I decided it would start life as a 'Sounds Bag'. I think Sounds Bags can have other names, too, like Sensory Bag. The idea is that you have a bag containing familiar objects, and as well as the baby having fun taking them all out and putting them back (a favourite pastime for most babies and toddlers), the activities you can do using the bag can help speech development. But it's also a useful rucksack, and very handy for popping a few toys in to take in the car or on trips. Read more about how to make one below.
Making the rucksack
I used the pattern from the Indietutes website referred to earlier. Their rucksack is made using one layer of material and some fusible interfacing. Instead, I used two-sided ready-quilted fabric, covered with cupcakes. I've used this and similar fabric for several projects, it's so easy as it's already lined.
I cut out the pattern just as the Indietutes blog suggests, and, other than not having to fuse the interfacing on, I more or less proceeded as per their instructions. The main difference was that I put the seam on the side panel underneath rather than at the top.
View from underneath showing seam
The rucksack has integral facings on both the bottom part of the front, and the top (the front overlap). Because quilted material is quite bouncy and doesn't lie flat easily, I used several rows of over-stitching to keep the facings inside, and I quite like the decorative effect of this.
Close up of over-stitching
So that's the rucksack, finished and ready for use as such.
Rucksack as a Sounds Bag
Here's how I made it into a Sounds Bag.
The idea is to have objects which represent familiar words for your baby, probably no more than about 6-10 at once. (Objects are best, but you can include pictures. As we did for the baby's Mummy and Daddy - they're too big to fit in the bag!) Including some food items makes it more interesting, especially if they can eat them! These obviously have to be put in at the last minute, but small packets of raisins, biscuits (cookies), and even miniature yogurts could be in there. Maybe a banana, too. The whole point is to use things for which the baby almost knows the words.
Toddler's eye view of contents
Most babies and toddlers love the excitement of wondering what is within, and taking things out and putting them back. There is a natural tendency to want to tip them all out at once, but if you are using the bag in the way intended, there should be a degree of supervision.
The ones you use first can gradually be replaced with other things as the baby has gained confidence with these words. (Though you'll obviously keep the favourites things in a while longer.)
After tipping or pulling them out
Here are some examples of games you can play with the Sounds bag:
- Baby takes things out of bag (try to avoid whole lot being tipped out but not to extent that this causes frustration). You ask "What’s this?", and give enough time to wait for an answer. If the answer doesn’t come, you can say it. If it does, even if it’s not quite right, you can say e.g. "That’s right, it’s a ball."
- Baby puts things into bag – on your instruction if possible. "Let's put the cup into the bag." You can help.
- Baby looks for things in bag that you ask for, e.g. "Where’s the mirror?"
- Later, Baby looks for the RED ball, or the BLUE ball.
- Later still, you can have words on flash cards to let a child learning literacy skills find the word that correspond to an object.
Here are some of the things I gave the baby's Mummy to use with the Sounds Bag. They were all things which the baby would know or recognise.
- Mummy and Daddy. I had found 2 small picture frames, and put into each a recent and smiling full face shot of each parent.
- Duck - a toy bath duck
- Ball - a plastic ball from the ball pit
- Bear (or Teddy) - I had a very small jointed bear with a cute face
- Car - a small pull back toy car
- Nappy (North American toddlers probably call these diapers) - just a small size one, but the baby would for sure know what it was
- Mirror - a fold-up handbag size mirror - could be used to mean mirror, or the baby's name
- Bubbles - a bubble blowing tube - what baby doesn't love bubbles?
- Book - a small card picture book
- A toy rustle-y and squeaky snake I had made for a baby gym
- A biscuit (unfortunately Baby found this before Mummy realised it was in there!)
Some of the objects within - biscuit already gone!
But obviously, you would put in things relevant for your baby or toddler, so for everyone these could be different. However, I did find a list of the first 30 or so words which most babies learn, which might provide some ideas as a starting point.
Ideas for objects to go in Sounds Bag
- biscuit / cookie
- brush / toothbrush
- bunny / rabbit
- Daddy / Pop
- dog / doggie
- keys (why are babies so fascinated by keys? and remote controls?)
- Mummy / Mom
- nappy / diaper
- brother's / sister's name
- other relatives / friends / pets
- various other animals depending on favourite books or soft toys