baby toys

6 Best Sensory and Fidget Toys for All Ages 1

All toys are meant to give kids some kind of experience, whether it’s role-playing toys that fostering the imagination, outdoor toys that get them up and active, artsy toys help get their creative juices flowing or educational toys like STEM play sets that teach kids about certain educational topics. But sensory toys focus in on touch, sight, hearing, taste and smell and try to direct kids’ attention to one or more of those sensations.

“Sensory toys stimulate the tactile system through various textures, vibration, temperature or weight,” says Shelli Dry, ODT, a pediatric occupational therapist. “Visual toys can light up, flash, run in patterns and stimulate color receptors by changing colors. Vestibular toys would be things like swings, rocker boards, scooter boards, skateboards and spinners — toys that move through space in different directions and different speeds. Auditory toys may have music, metronome beats, chimes or bells.” Even those ubiquitous pop fidget toys have their purpose, offering a satisfying push-pull for kids with busy hands. Just watch out for toys that do too many of these at once, Dr. Dry cautions, since those may be overstimulating.

There are many advantages to these types of experiences. “Sensory toys are beneficial to all ages and abilities and not limited in use,” Dr. Dry says. “They may be used to activate or to calm, to encourage engagement and hand-eye coordination, and to increase participation and turn-taking. The key is to analyze each toy’s properties and find the one that best matches your child’s interests.”

Lots of parents like to DIY their own sensory bins, filling them with things like dry pasta, rice, water beads or sand, along with toys and tools that kids can use to hide and dig through to find again. But if the DIY route isn’t your thing, these best sensory toys of 2022 are always at the ready, waiting to give kids a fun, tactile experience.

Many of these are favorites of the toy testing experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Parenting Lab, and a few have even won Good Housekeeping‘s Best Toy Awards.

Watching the glitter, colors and other materials traverse these fidget tubes offers a calming experience for kids who need a minute to cool down. This set comes with four tubes, a glitter tube, a fidget tube, a reverse hourglass and a gravity spinner, but Hand2Mind also has tubes that focus on color-mixing or look like a cute cloud, among others. Ages 3+


You can create your own DIY sensory bins, filling them with different compounds, toys to hide in them and tools to dig and scoop them. Or you can buy this ready-made sensory bin, which offers a variety of sensations and textures. The ocean and sand bin has water beads, sand, ocean animals and tools for digging and scooping, but Creativity for Kids’ other bins, with themes like construction zonedinosaur diggardens and crittersice cream shopmermaid lagoonouter space and race track, have different compounds and toys in them.


The Dimpl Digits toy, a Good Housekeeping Best Toy Award winner, features the numbers one through 10 in a rainbow of bubbles that give a satisfying pop when you push them in. Flip it over, and you’ll find the numbers in Spanish, too. Younger kids might prefer the smaller, original Dimpl that has the same pushing sensation without the numbers. (And maybe you or an older child might want a Simple Dimpl keychain for yourself?) Ages 1+

This squishy ball is covered in easy-to-grab bumps that each offer a different texture for babies to explore. It also has cool colors, bold patterns and stimulating rattling sounds. Ages 6 months+
For kids who want to play The Floor Is Lava at home, these balance beams are a great way to help them work on balance and coordination while having fun. If your home setup doesn’t have enough room for a whole balance-beam course, you can also try using stepping stones. Ages 3+
For kids with boundless energy, scooter boards get them working their muscles (especially if they try to use them on their bellies). If your home setup doesn’t work for this kind of scooter, at-home trampolines are another way for them to expend excess energy. Ages 3+
baby toys


baby rattle

Beyond just being fun, baby rattles help develop your baby’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. They’re often the first toy your baby will encounter, making them particularly special to parents as well. But with so many rattles on the market, how do you figure out which one will work best for your family?


Baby rattles aren’t that complicated, but you do want to make sure that the rattle you’re choosing is right for your child’s age and stage of development. You also want to make sure it’s safe.

For the littlest babies, you’ll want a rattle that’s easy for them to grasp and for you to easily clean, since their hands are little and so are their immune systems. But as babies get a little older, their needs change. When they start to teethe, you’re going to want to look for rattles with some sort of chewing element to soothe those angry gums. The dual stimulation of sound and texture can really help calm babies, making them a worthy investment for your little one.

For safety, you’ll want to make sure that the entire rattle is a closed compartment, free of any possibility of choking. You should also opt for one that’s made out of safe materials like BPA-free plastic or silicone. Wood and cotton materials are fine as well, but make sure that the wood isn’t being damaged, and that the plush materials are cleaned frequently. Other than that, it’s mostly aesthetics — and wow, there are some cute rattles out there.

I’ve chosen a range of rattles in a variety of textures and sizes that are sure to delight your baby. As an added bonus, all of these baby rattles make great gifts for any expecting parent!

baby rattle

Every baby should have their own NogginStik. Seriously, this baby rattle does a lot when it comes to entertaining baby and supporting healthy development.

The multisensory activity toy lights up at the top — the colors change based on baby’s movements. The bottom (rattle) part features a mirror, and the stick in the middle is textured for easy gripping.

More: Raise Your Baby Green With These Top Eco-Friendly Toys

baby rattle

Sounds are essential for developing your baby’s hearing, and with this adorable set by iPlay, iLearn, your baby can play and get the rattle as you fill in with “What does a sheep say?” “Baaaa.”

They’re soft, they’re easy to hold, and they come with their own little farmhouse for storage. It’s so much more than just a rattle toy — it’ll also be your baby’s first pretend play toy.

baby rattle

This smooth, minimalist-style wooden baby rattle is a perfect toy for babes. Handmade in the USA, this rattle is made of organic materials and comes in a little cotton sachet, which makes it a perfect gift to give, too.

It’s natural maple and sealed with 100% nontoxic paints and dyes.

More: Raise Your Baby Green With These Top Eco-Friendly Toys

baby rattle

Your baby’s next game of Simon Says just got infinitely more fun with these wrist and foot rattles. Slip on the socks and loop the wristlets around your little one’s arms. Each time they kick their chubby little feet or flail their arms as babies so often do, they’ll be rewarded with a rattling sound.

baby rattle

Here’s another dumbbell-style rattle that looks a bit less like the traditional weight you’d find in a gym, and we’re totally obsessed with it. Made of organic cotton, this colorful chime rattle will give your baby all the good feelings.

It’s bright and engaging, and the handle is small enough for even the littlest babies to hold and play with.

baby rattle

This friendly rattle makes a good starter toy for the youngest of babies. It’s super-soft, without any hard surfaces, and despite the small size, it’s packed full of surprises. The antennae and arms feature different textures and sounds to help keep your baby busy. And when baby starts to teethe? Those feet will come in handy.

baby rattle

This is a perfect gift for parents who prioritize fitness in the family lifestyle. Plus, the dumbbell rattle looks hysterical in photos — it’ll totally help keep your Instagram feed alive!

On top of that, it’s made of safe materials free of phthalates and BPA, so you can rest assured your baby isn’t chewing on anything nasty.

baby rattle

The Sassy set is the ultimate in developmental play. This particular rattle is designed for the youngest of rattlers. The graphic, multicolor design is visually stimulating for your baby’s vision, and the various textures and shapes help build dexterity.

Plus, with a set of two, you’ll have a backup in case one gets lost — which is every parent’s rattle

Meet your baby’s new BFF! This hedgehog rattle is made to play all day — and seriously, is this not just the cutest?

The flexible, round body will keep your little one entertained as it bounces and rolls across the floor, encouraging babies to crawl, while the finger holes make it easy for tiny hands to hold on and give it a shake.

baby rattle

Babies can get attached to toys, so you’ll want something that’s well-made to go the distance. You can’t go wrong with this colorful ring. The natural beechwood is durable and lightweight, while the water-based, nontoxic stain also makes it a safe teether.

Haba makes toys that are as safe for the planet as they are for your child, making this a great, sustainable pick.


baby toys


If you’ve ever spent time with a little nurturer, you know how much they love to cling to baby dolls. They become to attached to them that they almost an extra limb for some kids. Baby dolls are pretty basic, but there are a few things to think about when you’re looking to buy your baby their own baby.


Buying a baby doll isn’t a big undertaking, but there are a few things you should think about before making your purchase, such as your child’s age, your budget, and if you want it to be a low-tech or high-tech toy. Baby dolls can surprisingly get a bit expensive — and since the big-dollar baby dolls are heirloom-quality, the sticker shock can be quite high, especially considering there are likely cheaper dupes on the market.

  • Age: Young babies need soft toys without things like sewn-on eyes or small parts that can become choking hazards, while older preschoolers tend to like more detailed baby dolls with lots of bells and whistles. Older kids may want more sophisticated, pretend play dolls that focus on accessories and style.
  • Cost: Hold onto your hats, parents, and caregivers — because these dolls can go from under $10 to hundreds of dollars (yes, you read that right!).
  • Tech Type: Baby dolls range from soft, squishy toys to toys with movable arms and legs. Some high-tech baby dolls even wet themselves and cry until you change them — an interactive feature that kids oddly go bananas over. There are dolls in all of these categories at every price point on our list.

Got a little nurturer who loves to hug and care for their dolls? Check out our picks for the best dolls you can get your petite parent.

Age Range: 3 to 6 years

Created by mimes and puppeteers, this baby doll does more than babies do IRL. Your little one can play peek-a-boo or cuddle with their Baby Alive grow-up doll — and that’s not all! These dolls will respond to being fed, kissed, played with, and spoken to.

Over time, the doll’s language can grow to over 75 words and phrases, and she’ll even respond to your kiddo’s cues. It’s a unique baby doll that has three growth stages and features lots of interactivity.

More: The Best Toys for Kids to Cure Their Perpetual Boredom

Age Range: 2 to 5 years

If your little one is itching to take care of a baby doll (we know he can’t even take care of himself!), give him a doll from the New York Doll Collection to start with. The soft build of the doll makes it easy to learn how to hug, hold, and nurture someone tiny.

One excellent thing about this doll collection is that it comes in so many different skin colors. Kids need both windows and mirrors during play. They should see themselves, and see the world around them. This collection does just that.

Age Range: 3 to 7 years

This isn’t the highest-tech baby doll, but it’s plenty to keep preschoolers engaged. This baby doll makes 10 sound effects, including crying, laughing, and cute little pacifier gurgles. The dress cleans easily, as does the doll itself. It’s one of the most-popular dolls available, and for good reason.

Age Range: 6 to 10 years

This Cutesies doll is one of the most adorable baby dolls we’ve ever seen — did you see those bright green eyes?! Her limbs and head are movable and easy to wash. Plus, that miniature cupcake onesie will make your kid feel like they’re holding onto the sweetest thing.

This doll is slightly delicate, and the materials that the doll are made from are a bit heavier than other dolls on this list. So while it’s stunning and fun to have, the under-3 set should steer clear.

Age Range: 6 months to 2 years

This rag doll is cool, dude. Seriously, he’s low-maintenance and comes with a magnetic binky that your little man will love to nurture him with. He’ll end up going everywhere with your kid!

It comes in tons of different hair and skin colors, and thanks to the soft body and lack of beaded eyes or batteries, it’s great for even he youngest babies.

Age Range: 18 months to 6 years

Snatch a cute Cabbage Patch baby for your little one, just like the one you had in your childhood. This baby doll comes with a blanket, pacifier, a personalized birth certificate, and authentic adoption papers — making each and every one unique. It’s a classic for a reason — and babies still love this brand.

Plus, we can’t get enough of the sweet kitten onesie and ears!

Age Range: 2 to 5 years

This Baby Alive doll can suck on her thumb just like a real baby — a feature your little one will be very amused by. She can also be fed with the bottle accessory that’s included. Her body is softly stuffed, and the limbs are similarly soft, but made of a malleable polymer.

It comes with the bottle, and every doll will also get a blanket and pacifier. I love that your baby can suck her thumb like a real baby does as well. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Baby Alive dolls from when millennials were babies, and that’s pretty fun.

Age Range: 3 to 7 years

This baby dolls’ cheeks actually blush! She also makes 15 realistic baby sounds, and my goodness, they’re all so sweet — but her accessories are where my daughter thinks Sydney really shines.

Her soft cardigan, flexible wings, and the cup she drinks from are all color coordinated and work to interact with the doll. She also comes with a pair of shoes and a matching pacifier — plus, her shimmery outfits and shoes are changeable.


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