Toddlers are little explorers who learn by playing. Sensory play allows your child to engage their five senses: touch, hearing, sight, taste, and smell. It also includes balance and body awareness.
Sensory toys are toys that provide the particular sensory input that many children with a sensory processing disorder, autism, or ADHD crave. Whether it is visual or tactile, the sensory toys will capture your kid’s attention. So
Finding the right sensory toys that’ll both educate and entertain our little tots is challenging. There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best sensory toys for your child. Be mindful of the age requirement for these different toys as well as where your child fits into these age limits. You know what is best for your child.
What to Look for in Sensory Toys
The best sensory toys can help your child with:
- Language development. Sensory toys help teach common sensory words like hot, cold, bumpy, soft, and more. They also aid in memory development and social skills.
- Motor skills development (vestibular). Practicing large movements like throwing as well as small movements like pinching and grasping during sensory play help increase both fine and gross motor skill development.
- Build nerve connections. Using sensory exploration when playing with sensory toys helps to build essential nerve connections along the pathways in your child’s brain. This is vital for cognitive development, including problem-solving, social skills, and the ability to learn in general.
- Calming effects. Sensory toys give your child an excellent way to deviate their focus to encourage mindfulness and calmness in your child. Nightlights, sound soothers, and weighted items are excellent for calming your kid down.
- Look of toys that are brightly colored or have contrasting designs. These will be visually engaging for your child.
- Tactile (Touch). Different textures will encourage them to explore, whether this is with their hands or mouths. Find things that crinkle or have raised or soft textures that they can feel and discover.
- This could be the noise of a rattle, different sounds, or music. Toys that make a noise or play music when squeezed, or when buttons are pressed, will encourage sensory play and engage your child.
Evaluate the specific sensory needs of your child and what type of activity they seek. A sensory toy can provide your child with the necessary sensory input to allow them to focus on the task at hand rather than fighting their sensory needs. This means they may sleep, eat, communicate, behave, and learn better.
Best Sensory Toys
Best for Vision
Children with special needs often enjoy visual stimulants that usually need them to focus on one thing and calm down. Thus, it’s no wonder YoYa Liquid Motion Bubbler has ended up on this list. It’s a colorful and mesmerizing desk toy that also doubles as a visual aid toy for children.
In essence, the YoYa liquid motion is a bubbler toy that enables your child to relax and concentrate.
It is quite small, so it fits into the hand of a child comfortably. Due to its size, we can take it anywhere with us as well, and always have something that’ll draw the attention and help the child focus. Additionally, the manufacturer made sure to construct the toy out of heat-resistant plastic, which makes it safe for kids to use.
The way it works is quite simple. The colorful liquid drops down from the top, and once it stops falling, the kid should turn the toy over to make the liquid start falling again.
The primary purpose of the toy is to soothe our children by making the focus on the lights. That’s why the bubbler comes in three different colors. Because it’s so colorful, it can hold the attention of the child a bit longer than any other toy out there. Also, it could prove useful for teaching the principles of action and reaction.
- Three different colors
- Made out of heat-resistant plastic, which makes it safe to use
- Mesmerizing visual effects that help children relax
- Great for kids with special needs
- Small, practical size
Buy Now: Amazon
Best for Body Awareness
Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug N Secure Grow With Me Swing
We know how impractical swing sets can be, especially since we have to tweak them every couple of years so that our kids can safely use them. However, Little-Tikes 2-in-1 designers took that into account. This Grow With Me Swing is a perfect sensory toy for kids who lack body awareness.
The design of Little Tikes 2-in-1 swing is based on the safety of the set. There is a T-Bar at the front of the seat, which we can remove once our kids grow up a bit and become a full-fledged toddler.
The seat is made out of premium-quality, durable plastic, which ensures the safety of the child. The rope that holds the swing set is made out of nylon, which only adds to the set’s durability and safety. What’s more, the shoulder straps make sure that your kid stays snug while playing since the straps are designed with stability in mind.
Finally, the maximum weight capacity of the swing is 50 lbs, and the recommended age range is from 9 to 48 months.
- Maximum capacity of 50 lbs
- Suitable for children ages from 9 months to 48 months
- Durable and lightweight plastic seat
- Removable T-Bar
- Safety stay-put shoulder straps
Installing the swing set is super easy. You need to find a strong enough horizontal branch in your backyard, or a stable pull-up bar for indoor playtime if you’d like to give your kid a chance to play in winter too.
Best for Motor Skills
Fold & Go Trampoline – by The Original Toy Company
Some children with autism or ADHD are full of energy almost all day long. They also love jumping on furniture, which is both unsafe and not ideal for the well-being of our couches, for example.
Luckily, a trampoline is a fantastic toy for kids. The Fold & Go trampoline is a particularly good choice, thanks to its mobility and practicality.
The Fold & Go Trampoline has a super-easy assembly, which won’t take up a lot of your time. The trampoline mat comes pre-assembled, and the frame of the trampoline is entirely foldable. It is designed for both outdoor and indoor use.
The maximum weight capacity of the trampoline is 150 lbs, and the manufacturer recommends the toy for children over the age of 3.
Finally, an especially useful addition is the padded handlebar. This bar ensures safe trampoline playtime since kids can easily hold onto it.
Adding to the safety of the trampoline is also the ASTM approval and the fact that the trampoline meets the HR 4040 standard. If you are not familiar with these, know that they’re pretty much two of the most stringent and most crucial toy safety standards available.
Also, the elastic cords are not made of metal, which is fantastic since we don’t want our kids putting their little fingers anywhere close to metal springs. Conveniently enough, the elastic cords make the trampoline pretty quiet too, so the jumping won’t even irritate the neighbors.
Best Calming Toy
Twilight Turtle Nightlight and Sound Soother – by Cloud B
Nightlights and sound soothers are great calming and soothing companions for anxious kids.
Cloud B has designed a beautiful plush doll that any kid, including those with a sensory processing disorder, would love to have. However, their Twilight Turtle is not just a toy. It’s both a nightlight and a sound soother.
It projects magical, underwater visual effects onto any ceiling. Additionally, it provides the added effect of wave motion, with adjustable brightness and movement speed of the waves.
Twilight Turtle also gives us the option to play soothing sounds that help children fall asleep in a super relaxing atmosphere. We can choose from two different melodies, as well as adjust the volume. There’s the gentle melody that will ease them into sleep. Still, if they’d prefer something even more relaxing, we can play them the sound of ocean waves.
What we love:
- Eases fear of the dark
- Plush and comfy sleep companion
- Makes bedtime a lot less nerve-wracking for children
- Has an auto shut-off with a 45-minute timer
- Available in three colors: Blue, Mocha, Purple
The 23-minute auto-timer is especially important (as physicians recommend it) since darkness and silence during sleep time are paramount for children to rest appropriately.
The best thing about the Twilight Turtle is that your kids will cherish it for many years to come. Not only does it create a soothing and comfy sleeping environment, but it’s also a multi-sensory toy that’ll ease the fear of the dark in any kid out there.
Best for High-Functioning Children
Vtech InnoTab 3
InnoTab 3 is an educational and innovative table best suited for children ages 3 to 9.
VTech designed this tablet to be very safe and durable, as well as easy to use. The tablet has a large touch screen, so it provides a pleasant viewing experience. However, the screen is not too big, so it’s unlikely it will shatter easily.
A directional pad is at the bottom of the screen. It helps with navigating the menu and is quite useful. Additionally, the tablet comes with ten onboard apps that make using it that much more fun. Children can use the Movie Maker app to become little directors and producers, or the Art Studio app, where they can let their creative side thrive and grow by drawing beautiful pictures.
- The tablet is safe and durable for kids to play with
- Easy navigation and fun gameplay with the D-pad
- Comes with a 4.3” touch screen with high resolution
- Ten onboard apps, including Wonder Cam, Movie Maker, and Beanstalk Game
- Improved 180-degree rotating 2.0 MP camera with photo-enhancement features
Maybe the best thing about InnoTab is the software platform and the “ecosystem” that supports the product. VTech has developed Learning LodgeTM (think APP Store or Play Store, but with incredible kid-friendly games and learning apps). This platform has over 600 downloadable apps, ranging from games to learning software, all of which have been designed explicitly by VTech’s Expert Curriculum team.
Best for Hearing
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
When it comes to sensory toys that engage your child’s sense of hearing, look for toys that offer a range of different sounds. Rhythmic, repetitive auditory feedback can attract some kids to a specific sensory toy.
This Baby Einstein Musical Toy is one of the best sensory toys on the market today, and certainly one of the top toys for autistic kids that you want to become a little more comfortable with noises that could have otherwise unsettle them.
A quick press of the button (an oversized button that’s easy to manipulate for all children) gives kids total control over seven different sounds and melodies. They can quickly move through all of the different songs with each press of the button or allow these songs to play out for as long as they like – they are always in complete control.
The other thing that helps to separate this from the rest of the sensory toys for autism on the market today is that it creates a more child-friendly version of classical musical masterpieces by composers like Mozart, Vivaldi, etc. Not only will you be exposing your child to gentle sounds and pleasing music, but you’ll also be giving them a better appreciation for some of the most important musical influences in human history.
Combine all of this with the attractive, the dancing lights, and the other features that make it so appealing as far as toys for autistic children – and any children are concerned, and you have one of the top autism toys on the market today here.
Best for Tactile
Mega Slime Kit & Putty Lab – National Geographic
Toys with different textures or anything that requires touching and feeling helps your child develop their sense of touch. This has a calming effect that helps children regulate their overstimulation.
The folks at National Geographic have put together eight ingenious types of slime and putty, including a magnetic putty, liquid slime, glow-in-the-dark slime, and color-changing putty, that make up some of the very best tactile toys for autistic kids on the market today.
Every one of these “toxic slime” putties is certified to be 100% safe for children as well as adults and completely non-toxic while at the same time providing a world of tactile sensory experiences for your child with autism.
Sensory toys for autism need to be able to capture the attention and the energy of your child, and it’s hard to imagine a toy as flexible as this one. This slime features multiple colors, textures, and consistencies – perfect for your child with tactile needs.
Best for Social Skills
Mickey Mouse Club House Color Adventure Ball Pit
Hallmark of autism is delayed or impaired social skills. If you want to make sure that your child can enjoy a full sensory experience while playing with autism toys, it’s tough to imagine any experience better than Mickey Mouse Club House Adventure Ball Pit!
Filled to the brim with energetic and different sights, sounds, colors, and tactile feedback, children with autism are going to fall head over heels with everything that these toys for autistic kids offer.
This is a real one-size-fits-all solution in the world of sensory toys, but it’s also a lot of fun for normal kids – opening up playtime for everyone and bringing together inclusiveness.
The ball pit includes 50 soft flex toy balls, is made out of heavy-duty vinyl materials that will last, and is covered top to bottom with beautiful, engaging, and vibrant colors that will capture the attention of all children.