Sensory toys are toys that encourage learning and cognitive development by stimulating a child's senses.
This can be through sight, sound, touch, taste or smell. They are a great means of capturing a child's attention and can prove invaluable in aiding the natural advancement of all the important skills they are rapidly picking up in the first months and years of their life.
Choosing the right one for your child depends on their age and needs. Though newborns are less likely to need or show interest in toys (they can't see much further than 30cm away at this age, let alone hold or engage with anything), the first six months of a baby's life are a time of rapid development and discovery. It won't be long before your child is engaged by anything that looks or sounds interesting. For this reason, toys that are bright or colourful or make interesting sounds without your baby having to touch or manipulate them are a good way to go.
From about two or three months old, your baby will start to discover the use of their hands: how to pull, grab and hold things. This is a good time to start introducing sensory toys that make noises when held, which will delight your child whilst also drawing their attention to the way their hands work.
We've gathered together a range of toys that support children at different developmental stages, so that you can pick the best one for you. Choose a sensory toy for your baby that will entertain, educate and satisfy their boundless curiosity for the world around them.
Kidadl's Top Pick
Whilst every sensory toy on our list comes highly recommended, this is our top pick based on design, price and versatility.
1. Lamaze Flapping Fiona
Fun, flapping Fiona is a veritable feast of sensory stimulation for newborns and older (though she is best suited to children three months and up). She squeaks, crinkles, flaps, whirrs and extends, and her silky velour body is sure to make her your child's favourite snuggle buddy, too. Pull the clip and the wings will start flapping in a way that's sure to delight your little explorer. She also clips onto the buggy, making her easy to cart around for sensory development on-the-go. A truly versatile toy. And, what child wouldn't want a flamingo friend?
- Price: £12.79
- Age: 0 months+
Best For Problem Solving
2. TOMY Toomies Hide And Squeak Eggs
The best sensory toys for babies allow for multi-stimulatory play and these 'Hide and Squeak' Eggs do just that. Each egg can be cracked open to reveal a different coloured chick which chirps when pressed, exercising your baby's auditory senses. The matching colours of the chicks and their shells help promote colour recognition and the differently-shaped base of each egg provides an extra shape sorting element that will stimulate cognitive development, help advance hand-eye coordination skills and fascinate little ones for hours on end.
- Price: £8
- Age: 6 months+
Best On-The-Go Sensory Toy
3. Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Elephant Activity Toy
This beautifully-made stuffed elephant is a patchwork of different textures, colours, patterns and sounds, all great for amusing and engaging your baby. Complete with a little plastic leaf hanging from his hand that's great for chewing, a mirror in his ear for extra visual engagement and an internal rattle that will have your baby shaking away, this little elephant is stimulating in every way. It can be strapped to the cot, buggy, even a parent's wrist, making it one of the best baby sensory toys for stimulation on-the-go.
- Price: £16
- Age: 0 months+
Best For Auditory Development
4. Lightdesire Musical Caterpillar
Music is an excellent way to stimulate your baby's auditory development, and this fun musical caterpillar is the perfect tool with which to do so. A melody is activated when you squeeze the head and different bells sound when pressure is applied to each segment of the body, boosting cognitive skills and allowing your baby to understand the link between cause and effect. A printed ruler along the bottom allows you to measure your little one's growth; a nice touch.
- Price: £15.79
- Age: 0 months+
Best For Collaborative Learning
5. Beiens 9 Theme 'My Quiet Books' Ultra Soft Cloth Baby Book
This soft interactive playbook is a great way to engage in developmental play whilst bonding with your toddler. The simple, eye-catching illustrations are bright and eye-catching enough to maintain the attention of little ones, and the play-as-you-go activities in its pages will keep your baby amused and engaged. Help them match shapes, button clothes, tie-up shoes, open a zip and pop a push-button, improving focus and stimulating the imagination as you go. This sensory baby book gets bonus points for being soft, safe, tear-resistant and washable.
- Price: £12.99
- Age: 6 months+
Best Building Blocks
6. Battat Bristle Blocks, 85 Piece Set
Building blocks are among the best baby sensory toys for children with autism: they aren't too over-stimulating and there's no 'right way' to use them, allowing for stress-free and engrossing play. These ones are doubly good because the bristles add a textural element that provides further sensory stimulation. A great option for encouraging creativity, developing motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
- Price: £21.98
- Age: 2+
7.Tiny Love 'Into The Forest' Classic Mobile
A mobile is a brilliant way to provide visual stimulation and aid brain development of babies lying in their cots. This sweet forest animal-themed mobile from Tiny Love features three gently spinning furry friends and hypnotic black and white spirals that are sure to draw your baby's eye (and get them off to sleep - bonus!). It also plays a series of classical melodies of different speeds and styles, making it a versatile toy suitable for both bedtime and day time entertainment.
- Price: £39.99
- Age: 0-24 months
Best Active Toy
8. Meadow Days Tiny Love Spin Ball
This little ball of fun can be rolled, spun, shaken and opened, with a number of different textures, colours and interactive parts to enable sensory play and help develop fine motor skills. One of the best sensory toys to also encourage active play, the Tiny Love Spin Ball's spherical shape allows it to be rolled around, inspiring your baby to crawl after it. A fun, versatile baby sensory toy.
- Price: £9.99
- Age: 3 months+
Best For Families On A Budget
9. Fisher-Price My First Fidget Cube
Championed as an excellent tool for children with autism and ADD, fidget cubes are useful sensory toys that benefit the development of autistic and neurotypical children alike (they're also a popular means of easing stress and anxiety in adults). The multiple faces on this Fisher-Price cube provide a range of different interactive activities so your baby can switch, spin, push and press their way to improved dexterity, enhanced motor skills and a heightened sense of curiosity.
- Price: £8.97
- Age: 6 months+
If you have some older children or just can't wait for what the future holds for when your baby grows up, here is our guide of the top robot toys that the kids are guaranteed to enjoy. We've also covered the best STEM toys so that your child can learn while they play.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
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