You may be aware of the many benefits of having children play with sensory toys, but out of all the sensory products available what are the best ones? Well our expert team here at Baby Kids Depot have done the hard work for you by selecting the some of the best sensory toys for babies, toddlers and young children available right now. Read the information below to see find what would be best for your child.
Lets first have a look at what makes a toy ‘sensory’.
WHAT ARE SENSORY TOYS?
When people refer to sensory toys, they are generally referring to one of two main options. The first, is toys that have a particular focus on stimulating one or more senses – toys that have different textures, moving parts to watch or sounds in particular.
The second is often in reference to toys that provide the particular sensory input that many children with autism or special needs crave. Toys that can capture a child’s attention are often in used in therapy or applied behavioral analysis (ABA) programs. Some sensory toys are also excellent fidget toys and can improve concentration and focus in children with ADHD and others who need to keep their hands busy to listen and attend.
The fact remains however, that age-appropriate sensory toys are great for all children!
Baby Sensory Toys
Let’s have a look at some examples of sensory toys, for babies, toddlers and young children, in several major categories – auditory, visual, tactile as well as smell and taste. We will focus on examples that help develop the sense of sound, sight and touch. Keep in mind that many toys may fit two or even three categories.
Toys that stimulate our sense of sound can include:
- musical instruments
- toys that make a sound as they move
- electronic toys
- toys that provoke speech or language
Our top pick for auditory sensory toys is the Melissa & Doug Band-in-a-Box – Clap! Clang! Tap! We believe this is an excellent value for money toy that will help your child develop a keen musical ear. This box contains a range of different musical items that all produce their own unique sounds. The other excellent thing this this set of sound sensory toys can be used by older babies, toddlers and young primary school children, so a great gift that babies and toddlers can grow with rather than out of.
Visual (sight) Toys
Toys that stimulate our sense of sight can include:
- Toys that spin, swirl or move in some way
- Toys that light up
- Toys that are particularly colorful
- Toys that provoking attention to detail, pattern recognition, matching and other visual discrimination
- Toys that have lots of detail to engage children
Our top pick here for babies was fairly easy to choose, the Fisher-Price Precious Planet 2-in-1 Projection Mobile is a standout in the baby mobile options. Firstly, why mobiles? Well as babies cant move around freely to view the world, they are usually stuck looking at whatever is right in from of them. Mobiles give them a visual stimulus whether they are flat on their backs or resting at an angle. The Fisher-Price Precious Planet mobile, has many excellent features that work really well. Its easy to attach to different rails which is great. The big feature for this model however is how Fisher Price have used technology to enhance the visual experience for the baby. The mobile has the traditional hanging animals that dangle down, in addition to this the mobile can spin, play music and even project images onto the canopy of the mobile, all with the control of a remote that comes with the package. See Here for More Details and Special Prices…
In this category of sensory toy our recommendations are different for each age range as children’s needs and capabilities change as they grow. Check our our recommendations for the Best Toddler Sensory Toy, 3-6 Year Old children and 6 Years + Visual Sensory toys.
Tactile (touch) Sensory Toys
Toys that stimulate our sense of touch can include:
- Toys that you need to manipulate to make move
- Toys that have a variety of different textures, or one unusual texture
- Toys that feel good to hold and use
- Toys that can be squished, squashed or manipulated to produce a certain sensation
Babies and Toddlers
Our top pick in this category is the Infantino Textured Multi Sensory Ball Set, this is an excellent product for babies and toddlers to experiment with different textures while being very safe too. This is a great value for money toy as it comes with 6 different sized balls, each with their own texture and color. MORE DETAILS and PRICES…
Young Children (at least 4 or older)
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is the prefect for young children to gain tactile sensory experiences, it allows the user to feel all the changes in of the putty as it is squeezed and stretched. You can roll it into balls, flatten it out into sheets like pizza, pretty much whatever you can think of, its incredibly malleable and ductile. The product is non-toxic as well as being USA made. See Prices and Colors here…
Smell and Taste Sensory Toys
The senses of taste and smell are not as common in commercially produced toys and relate more to activities that parents, teachers or therapists can do with children using household materials. There are some toys being produced now however, that are designed to stimulate the sense of smell or provide oral stimulation (such as teething or chewable toys for children), but these are generally found in specialist stores or special needs stores. Some examples include scented play dough, chewable necklaces and scent jars.
Multi Sensory Toys
Some good examples of multi-sensory toys are:
Rainbow Sound Blocks – These blocks make different sounds when shaken. They contain different textures and can be manipulated, and they also feature coloured panels that children can look through to see the world in a different color, or place over each other to combine colors.
Zig zag ramps – These are great for children because they make a lovely click-clack sound as the cars roll down. Children can practice eye-tracking as they watch the cars move and they can try putting the cars in various positions to feel the difference in how they roll.
Teeter Popper – This is a fantastic, multi-purpose toy that children can use for balancing, rocking, walking on, spinning in and imaginary play. As it rocks, it makes a popping sound that is fun. It stimulates sight, sound and touch as well as helping improve coordination and balance.
Kinetic Sand – Kinetic sand is a wonderful tactile sensory toy that feels amazing to play with. Children are also using visual skills in creating, cutting and shaping it.
Shake and Match Sorter – This is a sensory toy that contains a container with openings for children to post shape blocks into. Children are using their visual discrimination to match shapes to the right holes, as well as enjoying colors. Each block contains beads so they can be shaken to make a sound. When all the shapes are in the sorter it can also be shaken. Children also experience different textures and motions when pulling the elastic to free the shapes.
We know that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences. From birth, children learn about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in vital ways to brain development. Think of it as “brain food.” Good sensory toys help send signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning.