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These sensory toys are perfect for toddlers, autism, sensory seekers, and special needs. Sensory toys have the power to make or break bedtime, dinner, or a visit to the dentist! Like when my son, Isaac, clawed at me every day at preschool drop off and a stress ball he kept in his pocket helped calm him down. Or, when my oldest son, Sam, covered his bare arms, hands, and belly with finger paints at 13 months old because it was fun.
As an occupational therapist, I knew it was a lot more than fun though. This was sensory play with one of hundreds of different sensory toys that was actually helping him learn and develop his brain! Sensory toys have the potential to be amazing because they do two things. That stimulation all goes on inside the brain and is closely related to tons of other skills that your child needs to grow into a fully functional adult. Or, gross motor skills like jumping, climbing a ladder, or riding a bike.
This stimulation of our senses can even effect how our children read! When your child participates in sensory activities, they are learning. Second, sensory toys can help give the sensations they want. Because, sensation play tools our kids are busy trying to get the sensations they like, it distracts their brain from everything else it needs to be doing. You know, things like:.
Instead, you want to think about what your child is searching after and then pair it with a sensory toy that provides that type of sensation. Whatever it is your child enjoys is a first step in choosing a sensory toy that will help them calm down and communicate better.
Affiliate links used below. See our full disclosure. But, if you just want to give your child the best toys possible to help them develop, then any sensation play tools these toys would be a great place to start. As an occupational therapist and momma, these are are some of my favorite sensory toys for overall development:. Perfect for developing balance and creativity.
Kinetic Sand — Less messy than regular sand, this contained kit inspires imagination and gives tons of stimulation to the tactile sense! Balance board — Not only does this sensory toy improve balance, it also strengthens core muscles, which so many kids need.
They have to shift their weight and repeatedly cross the mid-line of their body. If that all sounds to technical, know that this is awesome for their development!
Besides getting a lot of tactile input, you can also hide puzzle pieces and hidden objects for them to find. Want to make it more challenging, have them close their eyes while searching for buried treasures!
The best part is you can make these really inexpensively and fill any empty container with tons of different materials to give your child an amazing sensory toy. Learn more about how sensation play tools set up your sensory bin. Sensory Theraplay Box — This box contains a variety of different sensory toys handpicked by a pediatric occupational therapist!
This keeps it super simple and adds the fun of exploring a bunch of different toys. Calming sensory toys can be used in a couple of different ways. Just like when Isaac bounced on the ball before dinner. Scooter Board — This is one of my absolute favorite sensory toys! Yoga Ball — An extremely versatile sensory toy that can be used in lots of different ways. Try bouncing your child on top while you hold them at the hips, rolling it on top of them with a firm pressure, or pushing it back and forth.
Putty — Putty is thick and hard to pull, this gives a lot of proprioceptive inputwhich is most often calming, yay! This is portable and affordable. This link is for a therapy grade type that will hold up for quite a while.
Mini Trampoline — A total staple sensory toy. In my house, this is an invaluable tool. My son is so much calmer and focused after jumping on it. Sensory toys can also be used for kids that are overstimulated and need a break when the world has just been a little too much. These types of sensory toys are perfect before bedtime, after an overwhelming activity, or before a difficult task:. Make sure you read my guide on Fidgets for Kids before choosing one! Lava Lamp — If your kid likes to look at lights, this is for them. Staring at the slow moving lava can instantly relax. Vibrating Snake — Wrap this guy around your waist, neck, or simply hold it.
Vibration is one of the strongest forms of sensory input and it relaxes quickly! Weighed Lap Pad — A weighted lap pad is basically a small heavy pillow that can lay across their lap. This also gives the deep pressure sensation that is relaxing to a lot of. Check out the weighted lap pad guide. When your child has a special place to retreat to, it can help them shut out all of the sensations that may be too overwhelming. And, you can put some of their other calming sensory toys inside.
Mermaid Fabric Pillow — Have you ever felt mermaid fabric? But half the fixation is in the magic of watching it repeatedly change colors. Kids can hug this while getting lots of tactile and visual stimulation. Light Up Spinner — Calling all light lovers! This spinner is portable, so it can easily be thrown in your purse or the car — if it helps your child calm down in the middle of Target. These sensory toys are a little more of an investment, and give Sensation play tools of sensory input, which is why there listed in this category.
I have several of these toys and none of my children have or need a diagnosis. But, for children with Autism or other special needs, these sensory toys could be used on a daily basis. Platform Swing — This swing actually can help improve sensory processing as it stimulates the brain through specific types of movement.
This budget friendly version can be hung up in your home or from a swing set outside. Ball Pit — Besides being lots of fun, ball pits give lots of that deep pressure input. Remember for most kids that equals calm! It could be used for relaxing, but also doing homework or other difficult activities.
Rody — I have sensation play tools love affair with Rody! This guy is perfect for bouncing and expending a lot of energy! Weighted Blanket — Perfect for sleeping or calming down, a weighted blanket could be a helpful sensory toy if your child likes being under blankets. Get a whole guide on weighted blankets for.
Rocking Egg Chair — This is great alternative seating for your kid if they like to rock back and forth and spin. They also have a super small footprint, so they can be stored away easily. Seriously people, do this. How cool would that be?
Body Sock — These odd looking contraptions are actually quite simple. Have your child step inside and stretch their arms and legs. Crash pad — This is a simple sensory toy, but you can get some serious use out of it. This provides a pretty safe landing for leaps from the top of the couch. Many of the sensory toys above can be used for toddlers sensation play tools babies, but not all. This list is perfect for exploring babies and toddlers:. Infantino Textured Balls — My youngest son had these and loved them as a baby and toddler. Busy Board — Pull, click, drag, feel, and listen!
Shaker Eggs — Babies and toddlers will love getting a reaction to their movement when they shake these eggs about. Sensory bottles — Awesome visual simulation as babies and toddlers can watch different colors and objects swirl around in water. Vibrating teethers — Remember that vibration is one of the strongest types of sensory input? Well, use this teether when your child bites down. Fantastic oral sensory stimulation that can actually help them eat better! Just wrap some different types of fabric around a hula hoop and let your baby explore away.
But, I had to include it because if your toddler seeks out movement, this gives them a ton of it fast. Did you pin this? She has over 15 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here. But you listed so many others our kids would get great help from. My daughter would love the ride and push bug. She always tries to ride her little truck and train not real ride on toys in the house.
I think my daughter who will be 1 tomorrow!!!! Sensation play tools could see her getting a lot of use out of that and being entertained for longer than a few minutes! My toddler would love the trampoline or the balance beam. Thank you for this helpful list! My granddaughter would definitely live all of these, very difficult to choose bit I think the trampoline and the snuggle canoe would be favorites.Sensation play tools
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