How to Make Gelatin Cubes for Sensory Play (Taste-Safe!)


Published: February 10, 2022 · Updated: February 21, 2024 by Sacha

Does your toddler like to put everything in their mouth? These colourful gelatin cubes and fun, easy to make and totally taste-safe! Choose your child’s favourite colour or use multiple colours to create a rainbow jelly sensory bin for your little one to squish between their fingers.

Hand holding yellow gelatin cube in front of red, yellow and blue gelatin cubes.

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Whenever I can, I like to buy our craft and activity supplies from the dollar store. They have a surprising amount of variety, and they tend to have cheaper prices than other stores.

One of the things I like about the dollar store is that they carry all sorts of items—including food items. And since I’m such a big fan of taste-safe sensory recipes, that’s really come in handy over the years.

When we decided to make Edible Frosting Play Dough, the frosting we used came from the dollar store. So did the Jell-O powder we used to make Edible Jell-O Slime.

And speaking of Jell-O, it turns out that there are lots of different ways to use it for gelatin sensory play. Not only can you turn it into slime, but you can also use it to create a Jell-O dig or simply let your little ones smash it as a way to channel their destructive energies.

Another fun way you can use it is to create baby-safe jelly cubes that infants and toddlers can squish between their fingers.

And while I actually used unflavoured gelatin for this recipe because I didn’t want the blocks to taste good, you can absolutely use regular flavoured Jell-O if that’s what you have on hand. (I included instructions on how to do this toward the end of the article, so make sure you scroll to the bottom.)

There’s something SO satisfying about squishing these gelatin blocks, and to be honest, I would probably still make them for my preschoolers even if they weren’t taste-safe.

But the fact that they are is an awesome bonus, because it means that our younger kids also get to join in on the fun!

Can Babies Play with Gelatin Cubes?

We love taste-safe sensory recipes because they’re a great way to allow babies and toddlers to safely partake in activities that would normally only be appropriate for older kids.

Because these gelatin cubes are taste-safe, you can give them to younger kids without worrying that they’ll be harmed if they taste them. But because they’re semi-solid, I wouldn’t recommend giving them to children who aren’t ready for solid food.

You can always reduce the quantity of gelatin to make the blocks softer and safer for infants, but they can still pose a choking hazard to children who can’t swallow food. For this reason, you should probably wait until your child is about 6 months old before letting them play with homemade gelatin cubes.

But if you’ll looking for sensory activities for babies younger than 6 months, sensory bags are a great way to allow them to safely explore textures without the risk of choking!

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Required Supplies & Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make DIY gelatin cubes for your kids to play with:

Supplies to make sensory gelatin cubes.

Note: I prefer to use unflavoured gelatin because I don’t want to encourage my kids to eat the blocks by making them taste too good, but you’re welcome to use regular Jell-O to make yours. To do so, just follow the same instructions, but skip the food colouring and use 2 boxes of Jell-O per batch.

Once you have gathered the ingredients, you will also need:

How to Make Baby-Safe Gelatin Cubes (Step-by-Step)

1. Boil Water

Use a kettle or saucepan to bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. (If you’re making multiple colours of sensory blocks, multiply the quantities so that you’re using 1 ½ cups for each colour.)

2. Add Food Colouring

Add food colouring to the water.

Cup of red water next to bottle of food colouring.

I wanted the colours to be nice and bright, so I used about 15 drops of each colour, but feel free to experiment and use whichever quantity you like best. For added fun, make blocks in all the colours of the rainbow!

3. Pour Gelatin into Bowl

Place 1 ½ tablespoons of powdered gelatin in a medium mixing bowl.

Unflavoured gelatin in white bowl.

If your gelatin came in 7-gram packets, use two packets. If you’ve decided to use flavoured Jell-O, use two 4-ounce boxes.

4. Add Boiling Water

Pour 1 ½ cups of boiling water into the bowl and whisk until the water and gelatin are well combined. Start whisking immediately or the gelatin might seize up and you’ll have to start over from scratch.

White bowl with red liquid beside whisk.

5. Add Cold Water

Add ¾ cup of cold water and whisk until combined.

6. Line Baking Dish

Take out of standard 9×9 baking dish and line it with parchment paper or wax paper.

7. Pour Mixture into Baking Dish

Slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the baking dish. If you were having trouble keeping the parchment paper in place, the liquid should make things easier.

Red liquid inside baking dish lined with parchment paper.

8. Let Set

Place the baking dish in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or as long as it takes for the gelatin to set.

9. Cut into Cubes

Once the gelatin has set, take the baking dish out of the fridge. Carefully lift the parchment paper out of the dish and place it on a flat surface like a table or counter. Then, use a butter knife to cut it into cubes.

Hand holding red gelatin cube in front of butter knife.

When you’re done cutting the gelatin, place a few cubes in a bin and let your child play with them. This activity can get a bit messy, but it’s SO fun! You can also use it as a way to let young children practice their cutting skills with plastic safety scissors.

Child's hand squishing red, yellow and blue gelatin cubes.

I usually place a few blocks in a bin for my kids to play with and keep the rest of them in an airtight container in the fridge to save them for next time.

Ways to Adapt this Recipe

Make Clear Gelatin Cubes

If you love the texture of the gelatin cubes, but you’re not a big fan of food colouring, simply skip the colour to make clear taste-safe blocks for your baby.

Make Rainbow Gelatin Cubes

Love rainbow colours? Repeat this process six times using purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and red food colouring. Then, carefully lay out the cubes in rainbow order at the bottom of a bin to create a rainbow gelatin sensory tub for your child to play with!

Make Scented Gelatin Cubes

If you’d like these taste-safe sensory blocks to stimulate another one of your child’s senses, skip the food colouring and colour the gelatin cubes with Kool-Aid powder instead.

Because Kool-Aid powder is unsweetened and very acidic, the blocks still won’t taste good, but they will have a fun, fruity scent!

Make Edible Jell-O Cubes

I prefer to use unflavoured gelatin to make these jelly blocks because its flavour doesn’t encourage my toddlers to eat them. But if ever edible sensory activities are your thing, you can replace the gelatin with 2 boxes of flavoured Jell-O powder.

Change the Texture

Changing the texture of your jelly blocks is quite easy—all you need to do is modify the quantity of gelatin.

If you’re making gelatin cubes for an infant or baby and want them to be softer, slightly decrease the quantity of powdered gelatin or increase the quantity of water to give the blocks the consistency of Jell-O.

If your kids are older and you’d rather make the cubes a little firmer and more solid, increase the quantity of gelatin or decrease the quantity of water.

With time, you’ll probably find a ratio that you like best. But regardless of how much gelatin you use, the blocks will definitely be lots of fun to squish!

Hand holding yellow gelatin cube in front of red, yellow and blue gelatin cubes.

Sensory Gelatin Cubes

The Craft-at-Home Family
Does your toddler like to put everything in their mouth? These colourful gelatin cubes and fun, easy to make and totally taste-safe!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Resting Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Sensory Bin
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • whisk
  • standard 9×9-inch baking dish
  • parchment paper
  • butter knife

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ tbsp unflavoured gelatin powder
  • 2 ¼ cups water divided
  • food colouring as needed

Instructions
 

  • Bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add 15 drops of food colouring (or a different amount of your choice) and stir until combined.
  • Place unflavoured gelatin powder in a mixing bowl. Pour boiled water onto gelatin and quickly whisk them together, continuing until the powder is completely dissolved.
  • Add ¾ cup of cold water and whisk until combined.
  • Line a baking dish with parchment paper, then slowly pour the gelatin mixture into the dish. Allow mixture to set for 3-4 hours in the fridge.
  • Once the gelatin has set, take the baking dish out of the fridge and use a butter knife to cut it into cubes. Then, give the cubes to your child to play with!

Notes

To make the blocks more solid, reduce the amount of water. To make them softer (for younger babies and toddlers), increase the amount of water. Unflavoured gelatin powder can be replaced with two 4-ounce boxes of flavoured Jell-O powder.
Keyword gelatin, jell-o, sensory play, taste-safe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Related Taste-Safe Sensory Activities

Looking for more taste-safe sensory activities to try with your infant or toddler? Check out these recipes:

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