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Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers 2024

We turned to three child education experts who have handpicked their favourites

Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers 2024

Photo: iStockphoto

Because toddlers learn best through interactive experiences that engage their senses— taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound — sensory toys are a great tool for promoting cognitive development.

Theresa Bertuzzi, an expert in early childhood education and co-founder of Tiny Hoppers, an early learning center in Canada, explains, "Sensory toys are designed to be interactive and provide a stimulating tactile play experience for toddlers, which is beneficial for cognitive development. "They also create a calming environment for children with sensory processing disorder, ADHD, or autism, allowing them to explore their senses safely and comfortably."

How we chose the best Sensory Toys for Toddlers

Not sure which sensory toys are the best? We turned to three child education experts who have handpicked their favourites based on design, budget, stimulation, and other factors.

Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers 2024

Best Overall

Montessori Wooden Busy Board with 8 LED Light Switches

Montessori Wooden Busy Board with 8 LED Light Switches, Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers Merchant

Dr. Rebecca Mannis, a learning specialist and founder of Ivy Prep, an educational center for personalized learning support, explains that this busy board is a great sensory toy choice because it helps them develop fine motor skills and understand cause-and-effect relationships.

"Kids can combine motor planning and sensory skills with imaginative play by setting up hula hoops or towels to create a construction zone," she says. "The travel size also makes it perfect for sensory play on the go this summer."

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Best Budget-friendly

Boon Bundle Baby and Toddler Bath Toys

Boon Bundle Baby and Toddler Bath Toys, Best Sensory Toys For Toddlers Merchant

"Water activities can be a fantastic way to soothe the senses," as Dr. Mannis explains. "This tube set is perfect for bath time, reinforcing the concept of cause and effect with its engaging motion and visual cues. It's built to last, versatile, and ensures a different experience every time it's used."

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Best Design

Educational Insights My Feeling Bean Bags

Educational Insights My Feeling Bean Bags, Best Sensory Toys For Toddlers Merchant

According to Bertuzzi, the unique fabrics and textures of these bean bags, each evoking a unique emotion, set them apart as the top choice in the design category.

"These bean bags offer a multisensory experience that can help toddlers identify and understand emotions like anger or happiness," Bertuzzi shares. "The simple act of grasping and tossing these toys also contributes to the development of fine motor skills."

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Best Rated

Bunmo Super Sensory Stretchy Strings

Bunmo Super Sensory Stretchy Strings, Best Sensory Toys For Toddlers Merchant

If you're searching for the best sensory toys for toddlers that have been highly praised by Amazon reviewers, parents, and childcare experts, Bertuzzi recommends these stretchy strings, which can extend to an impressive length of over six feet.

"Not only are they non-toxic and BPA-free, but these strings are also dishwasher-safe and easily transportable for car rides and trips," she explains. "However, it should only be used by toddlers aged three and older."

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Best for Travel

Esjay Toddler Busy Board

Esjay Toddler Busy Board, Best Sensory Toys For Toddlers Merchant

Looking for something to keep your toddler occupied during summer travels? Sally Malacuso, a special education preschool teacher and educational blogger, suggests that busy boards are perfect for trips (and dining out) because they pack a variety of age-appropriate games and activities into a compact form.

"Kids remain engaged while improving their fine motor skills and practicing early learning abilities such as counting, sorting, and recognizing colours, shapes, letters, and numbers," she notes.

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Most Stimulating

Kinetic Sand Mold n’ Flow Play Sand

Kinetic Sand Mold n’ Flow Play Sand, Best Sensory Toys for Toddlers Merchant

Kinetic sand is a fantastic open-ended sensory experience that keeps children engaged, says Malacuso. "The unique texture invites endless play opportunities while ensuring easy cleanup," she tells Today's Parent. However, she advises, "I would recommend this for older toddlers and preschoolers who no longer put objects in their mouths."

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Experts: 

  • Theresa Bertuzzi, an expert in early childhood education and co-founder of Tiny Hoppers
  • Sally Malacuso, a special education preschool teacher and educational blogger
  • Rebecca Mannis, learning specialist and founder of Ivy Prep

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Courtney Leiva has over 11 years of experience producing content for numerous digital mediums, including features, breaking news stories, e-commerce buying guides, trends, and evergreen pieces. Her articles have been featured in HuffPost, Buzzfeed, PEOPLE, and more.

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