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The 10 Best Sensory Toys for Exploring Sights, Sounds and Textures

Popular Mechanics Logo By Kathleen Willcox of Popular Mechanics | Slide 1 of 11: Sensory exploration is a big part of teaching children about the world: what it offers, how to navigate it safely, and how to appreciate its vast beauty. Sensory toys offer different smells, sights, textures, temperatures, weights, and sounds, stimulating the tactile system in the process. There are benefits to all of these types of toys, for all children. For kids struggling with sensory processing or integration, they are especially essential. We gathered an array of toys to activate senses, regulate emotions, and boost engagement and interaction. What to ConsiderThe options for sensory toys seem almost endless, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the choices. Keep the following in mind, and you’ll be on your way to finding a good fit for your kids.Age: Babies have very different needs than toddlers and big kids. There are sensory toys that are suitable for each age.Which sense? Some children need to stimulate their auditory senses, while others need to focus more on visual or textural cues. We include an array of options below.Emotional and physical? While all of these toys are educational and fun, so do a better job at regulating an anxious or restless child’s emotions, so keep that in mind.How We SelectedWe reviewed hundreds of products, and looked at reviews from experts such as occupational therapists. We also read thousands of comments from teachers and parents who shared their insight and feedback. From there, we put together this list featuring the highest rated and most loved sensory boosting toys.

Sensory exploration is a big part of teaching children about the world: what it offers, how to navigate it safely, and how to appreciate its vast beauty. Sensory toys offer different smells, sights, textures, temperatures, weights, and sounds, stimulating the tactile system in the process. There are benefits to all of these types of toys, for all children. For kids struggling with sensory processing or integration, they are especially essential. We gathered an array of toys to activate senses, regulate emotions, and boost engagement and interaction.

What to Consider

The options for sensory toys seem almost endless, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the choices. Keep the following in mind, and you’ll be on your way to finding a good fit for your kids.

Age: Babies have very different needs than toddlers and big kids. There are sensory toys that are suitable for each age.

Which sense? Some children need to stimulate their auditory senses, while others need to focus more on visual or textural cues. We include an array of options below.

Emotional and physical? While all of these toys are educational and fun, so do a better job at regulating an anxious or restless child’s emotions, so keep that in mind.

How We Selected

We reviewed hundreds of products, and looked at reviews from experts such as occupational therapists. We also read thousands of comments from teachers and parents who shared their insight and feedback. From there, we put together this list featuring the highest rated and most loved sensory boosting toys.

© Staff, Courtesy of Kenley

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