The 10 Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers of 2023

Young boy playing with wooden stacking rocks.

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Sensory toys make your child’s senses come alive. Sensory toys are beneficial for all ages and abilities. You can use them to encourage or calm a child, stimulate creativity, attune gross motor skills, and increase participation and turn-taking.

Sensory toys must be safe, non-toxic, age-appropriate, and always enjoyed under caregiver supervision. We’ve rounded up the ten best sensory toys for toddlers in 2023 to help you decide what experience will best suit your child. 

Best Overall
Battat- Bristle Blocks- STEM Interlocking Building Blocks- 112 pc Playset- Developmental Toys for Toddlers & Kid- Basic Builder Set- 2 Years +
Best Ease of Use
Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Stamp 'n Top Pizza Oven Toy for Kids 3 Years and Up with 5 Modeling Compound Colors, Play Food, Cooking Toy
Best Relaxation
DreamGYM Doorway Sensory Swing - Red Therapy Compression Swing - 95% Cotton
Bristle Blocks Play Set by Battat
Play-Doh Pizza Oven Toy
Dream Gym Doorway Sensory Indoor Swing
Best Overall
Battat- Bristle Blocks- STEM Interlocking Building Blocks- 112 pc Playset- Developmental Toys for Toddlers & Kid- Basic Builder Set- 2 Years +
Bristle Blocks Play Set by Battat
Best Ease of Use
Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Stamp 'n Top Pizza Oven Toy for Kids 3 Years and Up with 5 Modeling Compound Colors, Play Food, Cooking Toy
Play-Doh Pizza Oven Toy
Best Relaxation
DreamGYM Doorway Sensory Swing - Red Therapy Compression Swing - 95% Cotton
Dream Gym Doorway Sensory Indoor Swing

Top Choice: Bristle Blocks Play Set

Bristle Blocks Play Set by Battat
  • Bristle blocks feature soft, interlocking bristles that stick together at any angle for frustration-free building.
  • This basic building set includes 112 pieces in assorted sizes and vibrant colors for hours of imaginative play.
  • Eight (8) functional wheels add motion to objects, providing additional options to young builders.
  • The blocks in this set are compatible with Battat Spinaroo and Stackadoo bristle block sets.

Heralded as one of the best sensory toys for toddlers, the Bristle Blocks Play Set is for ages two and up. The only requirement is that your child is past the age of wanting to put things in their mouth. 

Many pediatric occupational therapists love using textured sensory blocks with toddlers to strengthen their grip, introduce them to different textures, and encourage open-ended play. These blocks are easy to stick together, making them ideal for children working on their hand-eye coordination.

This set comes with many shapes, including wheels, triangles, pyramids, long skinny pieces, and traditional rectangles and squares. They can craft buildings, cars, buses, airplanes, whatever they dream up.

Bristle Blocks are a tremendous socializing activity for children. It is excellent for sharing and collaborative play with 112 BPA-free pieces (and very reasonably priced, too!). 

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Best for Beginners: Rubbermaid Cleverstore Clear Stackable Plastic Storage Containers

Rubbermaid Cleverstore Clear Stackable Plastic Storage Containers
  • Maximize Storage: Perfect for everyday organizing; Straight wall design holds up to 14% more than other clear storage bins with lids in the same space; Maximizes storage space, while keeping everyday household items tidy
  • Impact Resistant: Built to Last; Made from break-resistant material, these clear storage bins will not crack or buckle; Made from Food Safe Plastic
  • Clear Design: These plastic bins for storage are durable and see-through, making locating and accessing frequently used belongings easier; Maximizes storage space, while keeping everyday household items neat and organized
  • Secure: Our plastic storage containers with lids are designed with snap-tight lid to protect household items from dust and dirt; Recessed lid allows for secure stacking without buckling or tipping.

There are many affordable options for a sensory bin. We like the Rubbermaid Clear Stackable Storage Containers because clear containers add a lot of visual stimulation and opportunities to explore. 

For example, fill it with water to see what floats or sinks. Or bury treasures in a bin filled with dried rice, beans, or pasta. You can even up this hide-n-seek game by blindfolding them and making them search for individual puzzle pieces, little toys, or coins.

Any preschool teacher will tell you the endless versatility and options for fun with a sensory bin. Simply put the lid on and store them or rotate bins for different sensory experiences.  

If your child loves water, sensory bins are wonderful to bathe a doll or play with plastic dishes and soapy bubbles. Children love the auditory stimulation of playing in the water, hearing it splash. This activity also teaches them cause and effect. 

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Best for Imaginative Play: Sensory Wooden Stacking Rocks 

Sensory Toddler Wooden Stacking Rocks
  • 【Great Stacking Rocks Sensory Toys】 The package includes 44 pcs multicoloured wooden stacking blocks which could attract the attention of kids, a storage bag is also included for collecting after game playing. These stacking rocks for kids have different colors, shapes, sizes, there are 9 vivid colors that inspires the potential of kids to build different shapes and to stack rocks structures, perfect STEM Montessori toys for toddlers and preschoolers.
  • 【Creativity Developing by Playing】 Stacking, sorting, building and creating are all important skills for future engineers, these multi-angled building blocks are easy to play and stack, they could challenge your child’s motor skills, creativity, balance, color recognition, and problem-solving. It leads kids to build the figure, animal, letter, and 2D shapes to 3D structures which helps improving kids’ concentration and patience, training their logical thinking, sensory development in a fun way.
  • 【Safe Quality Building Blocks】 MacyFun sensory stacking rocks toys compare with other brands in the market are more stable that kids can stack higher rocks building, so that toddlers will have more sense of achievement. Our wooden rocks are made of high quality nontoxic wooden material, smooth edges and surfaces without fading or abrasion, crafted nontoxic paint, a safer and better wooden rocks size that keeps kids from separating or swallowing, suitable Montessori for 3+ year old boys & girls.
  • 【Montessori Toys & Balance Stacking Game】Wooden stacking blocks are a building toys and a educational learning tool. Parents play with kids to build high and stable towers that can make the family time more interesting,and kids will find more possibilities of constructions to help them develop their ability to discover and create. A competition could be held at anytime to win the first prize of the best architectural style by stacking games at home, preschool, group activities or kindergarten.

Review by Amanda Brandt.

These sensory wooden stacking rocks were a huge hit with my 3-year-old son. The blocks are brightly colored and very uniquely shaped. There’s a variety of sizes, but they weren’t tiny, although the orange ones and the trees were the smallest and could potentially be choking hazards.

My son liked sorting the colors and trying to stack towers as tall as possible. How the blocks were shaped made it fun to try balancing blocks in less conventional ways. It was definitely a challenge, and I could see him problem solving to make the towers stand. When the tower fell down he thought it was so funny but went right back to building fun structures.

The different shapes and sizes make playtime engaging and promote creativity. We were making different shapes and since Easter is right around the corner, he wanted me to help him make a bunny. When my oldest daughters (5 and 9 years old) came home, they were also very interested in the blocks. They were pretending they were magical crystals and their imaginations ran wild. The box of blocks came with a soft plastic bag for organizing the blocks to keep them all in one place. These wooden stacking blocks were a lot of fun for us all to play with. 

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Best Tactile Toy: Kinetic Sand Beach Day Fun Kit

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Picture spending the day with your toddler at the beach. She plays for hours in the wet, smushy, ultra-soft, and moldable sand. This experience is just like the Kinetic Sand Beach Day Fun Kit. 

For ages three and up, sand is a sensory experience that will encourage big kids and caregivers to get in on the fun. It has a unique, stretchy, soft, and soothing texture and is incredibly malleable—the sand molds to hold its shape, allowing you to make sandcastles and lots of creations. 

You can get creative with the tools you use with your sand. Measuring cups, scoops, and spoons of any type, as well as plastic trucks or dinosaurs, are all ways to play and experiment. Kids play for hours while advancing their fine motor skills. 

Kinetic sand is made from natural sand mixed with non-toxic polymers (synthetic resins that are hypoallergenic and gluten and casein-free.) The result is moldable soft sand that never dries out and sticks to itself, making it easy to clean up and store in its included zip-top bag. Rest assured, unlike beach sand, the mess is manageable, and clean-up is easy. 

Some varieties of the sand come in yummy scents and a variety of bold colors to engage your toddler’s other senses. For safety, make sure your child is past the point of trying to eat or throw sand. 

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Best Ease of Use: Play-Doh

Play-Doh Pizza Oven Toy
  • IMAGINE THE PLAY-DOH PIZZA POSSIBILITIES: Your little chef can slice up some oven-fresh fun again and again with this pizza play food set for kids ages 3 and up. Makes a great gift or creative activity
  • STAMP AND SPIN A CRAZY CRUST: Add Play-Doh compound onto the pan and into the toy pizza oven, then press the handle to stamp a round Play-Doh pizza crust and see the pan spin around
  • SILLY CHEESE MACHINE: More Play-Doh cheese, please! The cheese crank shreds Play-Doh compound to look like grated cheese
  • GO TOPSY-TURVY WITH TOPPINGS: Shape traditional toppings like pretend pepperoni and veggies or make wacky dessert pizzas with crazy candies on top

Classic toddler sensory toys like Play-Doh have been delighting children for generations. There are many options for sensory play dough, coming in endless varieties of colors and scents. 

We love the classic Play-Doh, like this Stamp n Top Pizza Oven Toy and other all-in-one kits. These kits are great for implementing toys and make-believe into the experience.  

It encourages social play. Children delight at serving you a homemade Play-Doh pizza or ice cream cone. The squishy dough is endless fun for tactile stimulation, self-soothing, and hand and grip strengthening. 

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Best for Babies: Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Mat

Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Mat
  • { Supreme Quality and Attention to Detail is our Goal }This water splash pad play mat is constructed from Heavy Duty Pvc that has been thoroughly tested and will Not Leak air or water Period That is our Goal
  • { Stimulates Baby Development } The splashin’kids water fill playmat is an essential tool for developing solid head, neck and shoulder muscles as well as honing hand eye coordination fine motor and social skills It is a sensory delight that enhances brain development
  • { Stunning Eye Catching Graphics } Watch as your infant enters our fish tank Wonderland wide eyed and Fascinated by the bright colors sharp contrasts and cute floating toys Rain or shine is tummy time Your baby will try to catch and bat the brightly colored toys as they float by This baby splash pad will provide hours of quality stimulating and healthy fun
  • { A Cinch To Set Up } Simply fill the outer ring with air and the inner mat with your desired level of tap water set it on the floor and let the fun begin It folds easily when empty into your purse or toy bag to bring along anywhere you go.Its normal to have a plastic smell when its brand new so let it air out for a few days

Babies love the sensation and exploration of sensory toys too. Tummy time is necessary, but it can be a lot of work for babies, making them fussy or frustrated. The Splashin’ Kids Inflatable Tummy Time Mat makes it a fun, stimulating experience. 

The squishy aquarium-inspired mat features little fish, ducks, octopuses, dolphins, turtles, starfish, and crabs floating around inside. Your baby will delight in batting at and pushing these creatures around, improving their hand-eye coordination at the same time. 

This mat also teaches them about objects relating to space and cause and effect. 

The mat is super easy to set up. Blow up the outer ring with air, like you would a balloon. Fill the inner circle with tap water and a splash of vinegar to prevent mold. The super durable BPA-free PVC material prevents leaks. 

The manufacturer offers a 100% money-back guarantee against water and leakage, showing how safe and trustworthy this product is. When playtime is over, drain and dry, fold it up, and store it away.  

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Best for Sitting Still: Monkey Strings Wax Yarn Sticks

Monkey String Wax Yarn Sticks
  • The Original Monkey Strings – Inspire creativity and imagination with The Original Monkey String Sensory Fidget Toys. Bend, wrap, twist, and stick the 500-piece jumbo pack strings to almost anything your child can dream up while enjoying endless fun!
  • A Safe Space to Play – Our sensory toys help reduce high levels of stress for kids and adults with ADD/ADHD, OCD, and autism – the toys help promote a sense of calm and aid focus and attention
  • The Perfect Playtime Activity – Use the fidget noodle strings to build, draw, or make funny stick people, pretend eyeglasses, animal shapes, and even holiday ornaments. Perfect for keeping kids entertained at home, in classrooms, on car rides, and on planes
  • Stretchy and Sticky – Our bendable fidget sensory toys are made from wax and yarn materials that are safe to play with and allow your kids to create anything in 2D or 3D – Suitable for Ages 3+ and come in 13 bright primary and neon colors. No glue necessary

For ages two and up, Monkey Strings are bendy, wax-covered, brightly colored 6″ yarn sticks. Your child can configure this fun sensory toy in a million unique, fun, and creative ways. 

These strings are small, compact, and convenient for sitting-still activities – ideal for long car rides, waiting at a restaurant, or the doctor’s office. 

There are endless ways to sculpt and create in 13 colors and with over 500-pieces. The best part, these sticks will smoosh together and hold. They also come apart and unravel into their original form without drying up. 

Toddlers love to stretch, squeeze, tie up, ball them up and then untie and start again. They are an excellent interactive toy as well. Kids love to make bracelets and rings for themselves and others, play tug-of-war together, and link them to make super-long strands. 

These strings are hypoallergenic and non-toxic. They are great fidget toys for tactile stimulation and self-soothing. 

While they have a sticky quality, they do not accumulate dusty, dirt, or hair. You can easily wash with soap and water. 

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Best Fidget Toy: Nutty Toys 8-Pack Pop Tube Sensory Toys 

Nutty Toys 8-Pack Pop Tube Sensory Toys
  • 😃 FUN STEM TOY FOR KIDS – bright coloured pop tubes are EASY TO CONNECT together like lego blocks giving your little ones freedom to explore designs and applications of their own; teach the kids LETTERS and SHAPES with this educational stem toy and get toddlers to improve their motor skills or simply let them fidget on a car ride; STRESS RELIEF FOR ADULTS – no joke, give an adult a pop tube and transform him into a child who won’t let his new toy down and keep popping it and making noise.
  • 👍 PERFECT for ADHD, Autism, Calm or Stress Relief on the go; Thanks to their UNEVEN TEXTURE and SATISFYING POPPING SOUND the pipes have a soothing effect capturing your attention and helping you calm down and regain focus in even the most stressful of situations. Take these poppin’ friends everywhere with you, to the office, to school or on a quick drive to the store; also used for GROUP THERAPY & ADD where multiple participants connect each others tubes or use them to create sound together.
  • 💪 SUPERIOR & HIGH QUALITY; The colorful montessori pop tubes are built with the highest quality BPA & LEAD FREE PLASTIC to the highest quality standards you should expect and are designed to withstand a ton of fidgeting, popping, stretching, pulling or bending thanks to DURABLE & THICK YET FLEXIBLE MATERIAL; Careful inspection of each tube guarantees CHILD FRIENDLY EDGES, making sure you won’t get scratched in any sharp corners; Amazing Games & Stocking Stuffers.
  • 🎁 AMAZING GIFT IDEA: Toddler Valentines Gifts, Stocking Stuffers, Easter Basket Stuffers or a surprise last minute birthday gift? Spread the joy & share these unique & popular fidgets with loved ones; Make someone’s day with these stress relief good luck charms! Pop tubes fidget toys make popular top party favor goody bags, pinata fillers or white elephant presents, egg stuffer, secret santa & hottest stuffings & toys for toddlers, boys and girls – COOL BOX included – WHOM WOULD YOU GIFT THEM TO?

Another wonderful sensory toy safe for babies (3-months and up) and big kids alike. The Nutty Toys Pop Tubes are ageless toys that present new play opportunities and creativity as they grow. 

The BPA-free ultra-lightweight plastic tubes are easy for toddlers to hold and manipulate. Working on their hand-eye coordination as they stretch, connect, bend, shake and make configurations with the pipes.

These pop tubes are affordable and make fun, silly noises when manipulated or blown into like a trumpet. They are a great addition to a sensory bin, where older toddlers (ones past the choking hazard age) will delight in passing marbles, beans, or grains of rice through them. 

Kids love to create a maze of tubes and run water through them. These pop tubes are also fantastic in the bathtub. They can make a waterfall, stimulating their visual, tactile, and auditory senses. 

It’s no surprise that occupational therapists love these pop tubes. They are soothing and satisfying to play with aid in developing motor skills and the internal and external rotation of your child’s arms. 

The only downside to these tubes is that the material wears down and will break with rougher play. 

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Best for Relaxation/ Overstimulation: Dream Gym Doorway Sensory Indoor Swing

Dream Gym Doorway Sensory Indoor Swing
  • Indoor swing for kids! Great for vestibular input for children with SPD and autism.
  • Safe. Easy to install. Fits 26″-36″ door frames. Needs 2-1/4″ flat space for brackets.
  • Weight capacity 220 lbs (100kg). Recommended age 3+. Assembled in Canada.
  • Includes doorway bar, high quality sensory swing (4-way stretch fabric 95%cotton, 5%lycra), hardware.

Swings are one of an occupational therapist’s favorite sensory toys for any child with sensory input needs. Swinging provides vestibular and proprioceptive input and is a favorite sensory toy for nearly all children. 

Swings are especially beneficial for children with Sensory Processing Disorder and autism, providing a safe space and cocoon to wrap themselves in.

We love the DreamGym Doorway Sensory Swing’s for its vestibular input and snuggly cocoon feel. For ages three and up, this swing is like a hug and a private fortress for your child. It is an excellent place for overstimulated children to get away and read, color, or listen to music.

The trapeze bar is ideal for hanging, flipping, and pullups. It helps children develop balance and motor control. The bar installs easily in nearly any 26-36″ doorway.

This swing is safe and easy to install in any door frame. We recommend installing it in the closet door frame, as it will prevent you from closing the door, which could be problematic for a bedroom door. 

The swing is well-fabricated, sturdy, and highly rated. It includes all the hardware needed to install the swing and trapeze bar. It holds up to 220 lbs. 

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Best for Big Kids: MAGICCLUB Water Beads 

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Sensory-seeking children 3-years and up will go wild over these bright, colorful, delightfully textured MAGICCLUB beads. There is something uniquely fun, enjoyable, and fascinating about grabbing a handful of juicy water beads and squishing them through your fingers. 

They provide continuous tactile sensation fine and gross motor development, with the soothing and comforting texture as a bonus. 

This set includes strainers, tweezers, and spoons along with 30,000 eco-friendly, non-toxic plastic beads. It is made from super-absorbent polymers, acrylic acid, and sodium hydroxide (the stuff that gives diapers and food packaging its absorbency). 

It is important to note that a little goes a long way with these beads. You will only need about a half cup of dried beads per sensory bin. Add a few teaspoons of water and let them sit until they plump up to about the size of a dime.

These beads are squishy, can get messy, and are not intended for younger children. You must supervise children when they play with water beads. 

Water beads are an excellent addition to water tables. They are fun to scoop, strain, shovel, and fill buckets. They facilitate social, collaborative play and sharing. 

You can also get creative and roll them in paint and on craft paper for a unique artistic activity. 

Stuff the beads into balloons for squishy sensory balls. Empty plastic bottles are fun to suck them up and squirt them out. There is so much versatility in how you can play with these beads. 

When you’re done playing with the water beads, strain them into a colander, and leave them in an open Tupperware to use for the next day or two. After a few days, throw them out. 

If left in water for more than a day, they will deteriorate. Because they are non-toxic and biodegradable, you don’t have to feel bad about disposing of them. 

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Are Sensory Toys Safe?

As a parent, you have to consider the safety of every toy and product you use around your children, and sensory toys are no exception. There are serious risks associated with toys, especially when they are not for the appropriate age of your child. Check the manufacturer’s recommended age for every toy before buying. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that toys should be larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking (for toddlers still prone to this behavior), durable, made from non-toxic materials, not too loud or overstimulating, and age-appropriate. 

Always supervise your child when playing with any toy. If you need guidance on finding sensory toys appropriate for your child, consult with your pediatrician or an occupational therapist. 

Sensory Toys Can Do That?

Sensory toys are fantastic for all children – regardless of age or ability. This is why sensory toys are utilized by childhood psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, counselors, and school teachers. They know that these toys are essential for developing a child’s sensory perception and motor skills. 

The best sensory toys will:

  • Stimulate your toddlers’ senses. Sensory toys help your child identify their senses and utilize them to gain information about their environment. They also provide opportunities for your child to practice self-soothing and stress relief. 
  • Attune their gross motor skills. As your child learns to grasp and move materials around, they observe and learn about the physical properties of objects in space. It teaches them cause and effect. 

For example, when I dump this bucket of water, I hear splashes, feel the water on my skin, and see other toys move in reaction to this. 

  • Encourage social skills. Learning social rules around play and integrating others into the experience is essential for young children. They learn things like sharing, waiting their turn, collaborating with others through shared sensory experiences.
  • Boost their logic and reasoning. Sensory toys teach hands-on learning, such as building structures with sensory blocks. They have to learn how to make things fit together, what structures will hold, and how to support their weight. 
  • Improve hand-eye coordination. Younger kids develop this coordination naturally by being sensory seekers. They see a cute fishy floating in a sensory mat, and they instinctually will go after it.
  • Familiarize themselves with multi-sensory integration. Children must learn to handle stimulation from multiple sources at once. Toddlers learn about the world around them and combine sensory input into a logical experience. 

This experience teaches them the impact they have on their surroundings, helping them make connections when they can see the outcomes of their input. 

Because this type of multi-stimulus can be overwhelming, sensory toys provide opportunities for children to relieve their anxiety and boost their self-confidence through play. 

How Can Sensory Toys Calm My Overstimulated Child?

Watch out for overly stimulating toys. Don’t buy toys that do too much – light up, make noise, vibrate, and more. Focus on simple toys that create calm, mindful, and soothing experiences. 

There are wonderful multi-sensory Easter basket ideas for children with sensory impairments. This multi-sensory Christmas activities list was a lot of fun as well. 

You can also use sensory toys for an overstimulated child who needs a break when the world has just been a little too much. These sensory toys are perfect before bedtime, after an overwhelming activity, or before a difficult task. Fidget toys, a lava lamp, cocoon swing, or sensory tent work well for this. 

What Sensory Toys are Best for My Kid?

Sensory toys are fantastic for children with sensory processing issues, vision or hearing impaired, or on the autism spectrum. There are many accessible sensory play kits for visually-impaired children. They are wonderfully beneficial developmental tools for any kid. 

What are your child’s interests? Does she gravitate towards noises and music, texture and touch, colors, and visual input? Likely it will vary daily. To decide the perfect sensory toy for your child, start by asking yourself what they naturally gravitate to. 

To help you determine what kind of toy best suits your child, consider the following types. 

  • Visual toys: These stimulate your toddlers by lighting up, flashing, running in patterns, stimulating color receptors
  • Vestibular toys: swings, rocker boards, skateboards, spinner. Toys that move through space in different directions, at different speeds. 
  • Auditory toys: Music, metronome beats, chimes, bells. These toys are fantastic for showing the cause and effect while indulging in making noise. They see first-hand their impact on their environment. For example, when I bang on this drum, it makes a noise. When I hit my stuffed animal, it does not. 
  • Water sensory toys: All children love to play in the water. They love to see how it splashes, watch what will float or sink, and all the ways they can pour, strain, dump, and dive. 
  • Tactile toys: These stimulate through texture, vibration, temperature, and weight. Anxious and overstimulated children tend to find tactile toys very soothing. Fidget toys, weighted blankets, stuffed animals, and vibrating toys are great for this. 
Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers

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