Little Kids

Sensory Play for Toddlers: 6 Toys and Activities to Try

Tired of finding your car keys in your little one's mouth? Try these toys instead.

By Heather Dixon
Sensory Play for Toddlers: 6 Toys and Activities to Try

The sharpness of bitter lemon. The fragrance of fresh rain. The plush feeling of a warm blanket. Everyone relies on their senses to understand the world, but sensory play for toddlers is especially important.

When kids take part in sensory play, they’re exploring through touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing—all things that are crucial for brain development and hitting those developmental milestones. That’s why it’s common to find your little one constantly putting things in their mouths, grabbing things, and climbing on everything.

And because it’s so important for them, it’s also a great idea to encourage sensory play. But if you don’t want to find your car keys in your little one’s mouth (again), we’ve got some other ways you can encourage your child to take part in that sensory goodness.

Our top sensory play toys for toddlers

Best fidget sensory toy

Pop Ball It Fidget Toys

Photo of product, 4 colourful sensory balls Merchant

These fun, colorful, squishy party favors fidget toys pack is made of non-BPA and non-toxic silicone, which is durable and safe for kids three and up. They're easy to grip for little hands and small enough to bring on the go. The balls will make a fun popping sound when squished, adding an extra layer of sensory input.

Best Sensory Toy for Grasping

Wooden Rattles Maracas Baby Toys

Photo of product - 5 different wooden sensory toys for babies Merchant

This super cute set includes five different rattles and shakers handmade from premium beechwood perfect for little ones six months and up to explore textures and sounds while building critical motor skills. It comes with a drawstring bag, making it easier to bring on the go.


Best sensory mat for tummy time

Inflatable Tummy Time Premium Water mat

photo of product - inflatable tummy time mat with water and toys inside Merchant

This kids' water-filled play mat can help develop head, neck and shoulder muscles as well as hand-eye coordination. Fine motor and social skills are also enhanced [ insert link to tummy time article! ]. It comes with a large play area and six brightly colored toys to keep your baby entertained while you work on building up tummy time.

Best sensory Montessori-inspired toy

Guolely Busy Board

photo of product - felt busy board book with different activities attached inside Merchant

This cute busy board travel book includes 25 Montessori toddler activities, including zippers, shoelaces, buttons, belt buckles, jigsaw puzzles, alphabet, clocks and calendar learning games. Toddlers love learning and developing fine motor skills, dressing skills, finger dexterity and cognitive skills through everyday activities.

This sensory toy is conveniently designed in a compact, durable book. It's perfect for travel in the car or on a plane and is easily stored away.

Best sensory toy for younger toddlers

Art Cards for Babies

Overhead shot of baby sitting holding black and white art cards

These simple cards with adorable black-and-white designs can help develop your baby's visual perception. From alpacas to ducklings (and even a tapir), Wee Gallery's cute designs with distinct edges can help little eyes engage and focus. And because they’re printed on sturdy boards, these cards will stand up to baby's explorations.


Heather Dixon is a Managing Editor of a non-profit website and author of fiction. She spent over a decade in the marketing and advertising industry as a copywriter, and has also written about motherhood for a number of established websites, including Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Motherly, Pregnant Chicken, Red Tricycle and others. You can find her at

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.