Toys aren’t just fun for your child—they can also play an important role in their development. Playing with toys can provide an opportunity for your child to work on improving motor skills, eye-hand coordination, problem solving, and sensory integration. If you have a child with a sensory processing disorder (SPD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory toys can be a fun way to help them stay calm and focused.
What Are Sensory Toys?
Sensory toys are any toys that stimulate the senses. In sensory integration therapy, these senses include:
- Vision (Sight)
- Auditory (Hearing)
- Gustatory (Taste)
- Olfactory (Smell)
- Tactile (Touch)
- Vestibular (Balance and Coordination)
- Proprioceptive (Body Awareness)
Your child’s specific needs will determine what kind of sensory toys are best for them. If they are working with an occupational therapist for sensory issues, find out what kinds of toys and activities they use during therapy. Some of the best sensory toys are simple and inexpensive, including sand, playdough, and fidget toys.
You can find sensory toys for learning and development, sensory toys for calming an overstimulated child, and sensory toys for babies and toddlers. Here are some of the best sensory toys for kids you can find right now.
9 Best Sensory Toys for Kids in 2022
Sensory bins are a great way to engage your child’s senses and encourage creativity. While you can make your own DIY sensory bins, not all parents have the time and energy to. These Creativity for Kids Sensory Bins come with everything you need in a convenient storage box with a lid for easy clean-up.
There are several themed sensory bins to choose from, including Outer Space, Construction Zone, Dinosaur Dig, Ocean & Sand, Ice Cream Shop, and Garden & Critters. Each set comes with different textures, toys, and toys for your child to explore. Not only will this engage your child’s tactile sense, but it can help with improving fine motor skills as well!
Keep in mind: The bins that include sand do not use kinetic sand and can get a little messy. And yes—you could save some money making your own sensory bins. But, if you’re not up to it, these are a fun option that kids love.
Children with a sensory processing disorder or autism can become especially overwhelmed by sensory stimulation or change. These hand2mind Sensory Tubes can help children learn to manage their emotions and calm themselves when they’re feeling a little anxious.
This set contains four mesmerizing tubes containing glitter and spinners. Anytime your child feels overwhelmed or anxious, spending a few minutes watching one of these tubes can lower their heart rate and calm them down. The tubes are overall sturdy and well-made, so they should last as long as your child isn’t too rough with them.
Keep in mind: This is a relatively simple fidget toy for the price. But, if you need a soothing, quiet activity for a child who tends to become overwhelmed or anxious, it may be worth it.
Sand and playdough can be awesome for children with sensory processing difficulties, and the Kinetic Sand Beach Day Fun set is a nice option to consider. Tactile activities like this can also improve fine motor skills, as well as being a quiet, calming activity. This set comes with fun tools for raking, rolling, and molding the sand.
If you’ve never played with Kinetic Sand, it’s moldable play sand that feels damp (but isn’t) and never dries out. Even though it feels damp, it isn’t sticky and actually cleans up quite easily—which is great for kids who are sensitive to textures. Kids of all ages and even parents love the feel of Kinetic Sand.
Keep in mind: This set doesn’t come with a plastic storage box, although they do have some sets that do. It does, however, include a fun beach-themed cardboard box for playing. You’ll just want to reseal your sand in a bag or other container when you’re done playing.
If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive fidget toy that will engage your child’s senses, check out these BunMo Pop Tubes. For such a simple toy, these are surprisingly entertaining for kids. This four pack comes with brightly colored, durable tubes that your child can connect and bend into different shapes.
These tubes also provide your child with open-ended play, which encourages creativity. They can also be perfect for kids who just need to keep their hands busy in order to focus. For such a low price, you can’t really go wrong with these.
Keep in mind: BunMo Pop Tubes are nice and sturdy, but may not last with children who tend to chew or play rough with their toys.
The YowellGo Sensory Shape Sorter is perfect for babies, toddlers, and younger preschoolers. Unlike your typical shape sorter, this one is designed to reduce frustration with stretchy elastic bands. It includes different shapes and textures that will engage your child’s tactile sense as well as encouraging sorting skills, eye-hand coordination, and problem solving skills.
Overall, this shape sorter is well-made and durable, so it should hold up to regular use by your baby or toddler. It’s also compact and won’t take up too much space or create too much of a mess for you to clean up.
Keep in mind: This shape sorter is mostly for younger children and babies and might not provide enough entertainment for older kids.
Children with sensory processing difficulties often need to be exposed to different textures and sensory input in a controlled environment. A water table, like the Little Tikes Water Table, can be a good way to get comfortable playing and splashing in water. This water table in particular is simple and inexpensive but well-made.
It holds seven gallons of water and includes fun accessories, including a scoop, floating frogs and lilypads, and catapults. Even though this water table is lightweight, it’s sturdy. It even has a spot to attach a beach umbrella for shade.
Keep in mind: This is a relatively simple option compared to some other water tables on the market. But it’s also one of the most affordable.
If your child is really resistant to textures like wet sand or water, you may want to try these MarvelBeads Water Beads. You can even use them in a sand or water table for a mess-free tactile activity. You’ll need to soak the beads in water first for them to fill up into colorful, squishy beads.
These water beads are long-lasting, non-toxic, and even eco-friendly. They are relaxing to play with and great for encouraging fine motor skills, too. You can use them in a sensory bin or even keep your plants watered with them.
Keep in mind: The beads can be a choking hazard, so use them with children ages 3 and up.
Trampolines are often used in sensory integration therapy to help increase body awareness, burn energy, and relieve stress. The Little Tikes 3’ Trampoline is perfect for children ages 3 to 6 to work on their balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. Whether your child needs some additional vestibular or proprioceptive input or just a quick break as part of a sensory diet, a trampoline might do the trick.
This trampoline was designed with the safety of small children in mind. There are no springs for your little one’s fingers to get pinched in, and it has a padded handle bar for safety. It’s sturdy and well-made overall.
Keep in mind: This trampoline is designed for indoor use only. It also has a limited age range of 3 to 6 years old, so you may only get a few years out of it depending on how many children you have.
The MOLUK Bilibo is a popular item right now and for plenty of good reasons. It can be used as a seat or open-ended toy that will encourage creativity, concentration, balance, and coordination. This is perfect for children with sensory processing issues who may need additional vestibular input or need to get their wiggles out to concentrate.
As a seat, your child can use the MOLUK Bilibo to rock and spin, which can help improve concentration. It can also be used for obstacle courses or pretend play. It may not look like much, but it’s really sturdy and designed for ages 24 months and up (including adults).
Keep in mind: This toy can require a bit of imagination at first, and it may take awhile for your child to figure out what to do with it. But once they figure it out, kids love these seats.
“Hi! My name is Lydia and I’m a freelance writer who specializes in parenting and education. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and worked as a teacher and tutor before deciding to stay home full-time with my two young children. As a mom, I’m passionate about early childhood education and am always looking for fun and practical ways to teach my kids at home.”