The Purpose of Sensory Toys & How They Promote Brain Development

Kids playing in the backyard


Children begin to explore their senses and process new information from the day they’re born. As they grow, the world around them starts to make sense through the exploration of new textures, materials and resources. During this developmental phase, it’s vital that infants and older children are offered ample play opportunities, which should include access to different toys, including sensory toys for children. The type of play and toys children engage with can have a significant influence on their learning experience. Creating a sensory environment from an early age is beneficial in many ways and can contribute to early development and education.

What Are Sensory Toys?

kid playing with sensory toys


Sensory toys are toys designed to engage a child’s attention both physically and cognitively by stimulating one or more of the 5 senses. They are available in a range of different forms.


Toys that come in vivid colours and contrasts to attract infant and young children’s attention and stimulate visual interest.


Toys with specific aromas can stimulate the sense of smell and provoke curiosity.


Toys that provide pleasant tastes or oral satisfaction including teething rings or other similar types of toys.


Toys that make a noise to support auditory engagement. Such types of sounds include bells, rustling, whistles, crinkling or other percussion instruments.


Although all materials are essentially tactile, the form and finish of the toys can vary considerably. They can range from hard and bumpy to soft and fluffy materials.

Why Are Sensory Toys Important?

kids playing with cars


From textured books to sandpits, nowadays, there are a plethora of toys and activities that you can use to engage young children. Sensory activities and toys are not only fun and interesting for children, but they also encourage them to explore and investigate. Plus, these activities encourage children to observe, form a hypothesis, experiment and make conclusions. However, the benefits of these toys don’t end here.

Better Focus

Learning and engaging in the real world requires focus and sensory products can aid build that skill. By purchasing sensory toys for your child, you will be helping them improve their concentration skills.

Reduced Anxiety

Children who are encouraged to play with sensory products tend to feel more confident as they work to build natural development in a fun way. This helps reduce anxious habits such as nail-biting or thumb sucking.

Improved Fine Motor Skills

Children with special needs or those with autism tend to have issues with fine motor skills. Sensory items allow not only children with special needs but also all children to experience playtime while working to strengthen and develop their fine motor skills.

What Are Good Sensory Toys?

kid climbing balance board


Good sensory aids are the ones your child likes to play with. You should never force your child to use any particularly sensory toy. They experience a host of sensations in their brain and toy that you may think would be fun for them to touch could feel unpleasant and uncomfortable to your child. Take a look at some of the most popular sensory items for overall development.

Kinetic Sand

A lot less messy than regular sand, this toy inspires imagination while giving tons of stimulation to the tactile senses.

Balance Board

A balance board is a must-have multi-purpose toy. Besides improving balance it also helps strengthen core muscles.

Colourful Spinning Tops

When children spin these toys, they give both visual and tactile input while also working on strengthening their fine motor skills.

Balance Beam

In addition to balance, every time your child figures out how to walk across this toy, they’re also working on some higher-level brain activity. Having to shift their weight and repeatedly cross the mid-line of their body is highly beneficial for their development.

Sensory Bins

Not only small children but also older kids can have tons of fun playing with these bins. Besides getting a lot of tactile input, you can also hide puzzle pieces and hidden objects for your child to find. Want to make it more challenging? Hide objects for them to find. To make it even more challenging, have them close their eyes while searching for buried treasures.


Thick and hard to pull, this toy gives a lot of proprioceptive input, which is most often calming. Portable and affordable, it is a therapy grade type that will last for years to come.

Sensory Tent

Get your child a small tent and then throw some pillows and a blanket inside and you will create a simple sensory tent. Having a special place to retreat can be extremely beneficial for your child. They can use this space to deal with all the sensations that may be too overwhelming. Consider putting some of their calming sensory toys inside too.