Some people think that sensory toys — toys that engage children’s various senses (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) — are only beneficial to kids who are on the autism spectrum, or those with sensory processing disorders or difficulties. Not so!
Sensory toys are wonderful for all children (and grown-ups, too!) because they help kids self-regulate and become fully immersed in their play experience. Not to mention, sensory play can also help kids feel calmer, more focused and less anxious. Win-win!
Here are some fan favorites:
This unique activity table offers many different textures and sensory items for kids to sculpt, squeeze, shape and explore! It comes with sand, stretch sand, slime, modeling clay, water beads and play foam. Bonus: it’s great for hand-eye coordination, dexterity and fine motor skills. Suitable for ages 3+.
Magic Tissue Box ~$25
Kids can pull textured scarves out of a plush tissue box and discover exciting colors and textures. It helps develop coordination, exploration, color recognition, hand-eye coordination, dexterity, and fine motor skills. Suitable for 5+ months.
Textured Bean Bags ~$19
Surprise! What will your child pull from the bag? Each bean bag comes in a different texture, shape and color so your little one can enjoy a different sensory experience each time. This set comes with cards that explain all the benefits of sensory play.
These squishy, silicone bubbles are perfect — and so fun! — for little fingers to press and pop. On one side, the bubbles show numbers 1 through10 in English, while the other side has the written numerals in Spanish. They’re also imprinted with dots for kiddos to feel and count.
Sensory Theraplay Subscription Box ~$42 per month
Designed for children with autism and sensory processing challenges, sensory therapy boxes are curated monthly by a pediatric occupational therapist. However, any child — even those with no sensory difficulties at all — will enjoy playing with these calming, self-regulatory and satisfying toys. Boxes include 5-7 sensory items, such as putty, aromatherapy dough, textured tactile toys/ fidgets, craft activities, light up toys, stress balls, and more! Best for 5-9 year olds.
Sensory Bins ~$Price Varies
These adorable and handcrafted sensory boxes will keep your kids (and also you, dear parents) entertained for hours. The dough is so fun to mush your fingers into, and kids can make all sorts of fun scenes with the figurines and other accessories. It comes in many different styles and themes. See them here.
This little box, made of 36 rare earth magnets, can transform into 70 different shapes! My girls (ages 5, 5 and 9) are obsessed with this thing!
Gonge Riverstones ~ $74
This sensory toy set offers a fun, adventurous way to encourage gross motor skills, coordination, balance, and weight-transference. We love that the stones stack up for easy storage too.
This vibrantly-colored 4-pack of pipes pop, connect, stretch and make all sorts of fun shapes and noises!
Pop Fidget Spinner ~$6 for 4-pack
I may or may not have stolen all of my kids’ pop fidget spinners. Seriously, these things are so darn addictive and satisfying. When my kids need a break from all their constant daily stimuli, they love to pull these out and spin and pop. (And so do I!)
Indoor Swing ~$78
No hardware needed! Just place the two vice grips at the height you want, insert the metal bar to extend across the doorway, and hang the swing. Swing can be adjusted to fit kids of all sizes, up to 150 lbs.
Kinetic Sandbox Set ~$12
Mess-free (almost!). Mold castles, crabs and turtles with 1lb of purple kinetic sand and use the included shovel tool to dig, scoop and mash. The sandbox set even includes a tray for contained play, perfect for the indoors. Squish it, cut it, scoop it, mold it – the creative possibilities are endless!
Pop Its ~$Price Varies
Pop Its galore! Kids can pop in all the ways with items such as Pop It journals, Pop It bracelets, Pop It games, Pop It purses… the options are endless!
Sitting still is tough even for the calmest of kiddos. But these sensory cushions make it a whole lot easier for kids to get comfy and concentrate. The little nubs on each side offer children just enough tactile stimulation to help improve their focus. Great for learning at school, home, mealtimes, etc.
Liquid Timer Sensory Toy ~$15 for 3-pk
Watching these colorful oil bubbles float downwards for two minutes is sure to provide a sense of calm for kiddos. Also fun: the droplets make the colorful little wheels spin on their way down! When the droplets reach the bottom, flip it over and do it again. Ahhh, zen.
Stretchy String Fidget ~$10 for 5-pk
Suitable for ages 3+, stretch, pull, twirl, wrap and squeeze these malleable strings. Great for sensory and tactile stimulation.
Sensory Brush ~$8 for 3-pk
This therapressure sensory brush is meant to help improve attention span, focus and ability to transition between activities. Great for kiddos (and adults) with sensory processing difficulties, just run the soft bristles over the skin with moderate pressure for a calming sensory experience.
There you have it. We hope you’ve found some helpful sensory items to add to your child’s toy bin. If we’ve missed any that your kiddos love, please share with us in the comments below!