There have been many trends for fidget and sensory toys in recent years, such as fidget cubes and spinners. Some find these valuable toys, while others see them as frustrating distractions. But when you have sensory needs and difficulties focusing, fidgeting, and sensory toys can be helpful for you to stay engaged. Those who have these needs can use those toys to burn off their excess energy, reduce anxiety, and energize their bodies to stay involved with a task.
When you go to toy stores or search online, there are many choices when it comes to fidget and sensory toys. But it is also important to pick the right kind of fidget, as they need to be quiet, low-tech, and serve a purpose. Aside from that, you should learn the right way to use them. If you are thinking of buying these kinds of toys but are not sure what to get, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you a guide to selecting fidget and sensory toys.
What are Fidget and Sensory Toys?
Fidget toys are small objects made for fidgeting, or small movements of restlessness, such as tapping the fingers, bouncing the knees, and twirling the hair. These movements are quite common among people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or anxiety, and they have been theorized to be a coping strategy for the body to encourage the release of stimulants and improve focus in those who have attention issues.
Even though there are similar objects that have been seen all throughout history, it was in 2017 when fidget spinners first became popular. At the present time, fidget toys have expanded from the three-pronged spinner to cubes, rings, keychains, and more. But all of them are meant to help relieve feelings of anxiety or boredom. They can also help regulate emotions, calm down, and focus on the task at hand.
Fidget toys are mostly advertised to children, but are also used by many adults. In 2018, there was a study that indicated fidgeting relieves stress in the short term. But another study in the same year discovered that children with ADHD were only distracted by these toys. They are frequently used and suggested by researchers, and many people also find them to be a lot of fun to play with, even if there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support their benefits.
Advantages of Playing with Fidget and Sensory Toys
It is beneficial for children to engage in sensory toys that are not only entertaining but will also help their development. Sensory toys can nurture the senses of children and help them develop motor skills, as well as aid with concentration and focus. These toys are also known for introducing tactile sensations and other stimuli to children.
In addition, sensory toys are also beneficial for those who have sensory issues, such as sensory disabilities, sensory processing disorder, or autism spectrum disorder, who usually find it challenging to receive and respond to processed sensory input. A lot of people with autism are fond of keeping their hands busy, and sensory fidget toys are their go-to aid, which is also used by many occupational therapists. Aside from that, these toys are also advantageous for adults who are suffering from dementia and other memory issues.
Fidget and sensory toys have many other benefits, and here are some of them:
For those who have sensory disorders, concentrating can be quite difficult. But sensory toys play a great role in improving their concentration skills, which helps with learning difficulties to focus on tasks. Keep in mind that learning and engaging in real work needs concentration. Therefore, to hone this skill, playing with sensory toys can help improve it.
Most people who have sensory or learning difficulties also often get scared or anxious with new or sudden sensory inputs. But when they are introduced to certain fidget and sensory toys, these can help in managing their anxiety naturally. As they develop confidence in using sensory toys, they may also stop their habits like nail-biting.
Helps Develop Fine Motor Skills
People who have special needs, such as autism and sensory processing disorder, usually have delayed development of fine motor skills. Sensory toys may play an important role in developing and strengthening the fine motor skills of an individual in a fun way. As a result, allowing them to play with sensory toys like activity cubes, bead mazes, sorting saucers, and dough from a young age can aid in the development of their fine motor abilities.
Gives Additional Stimulation
As we’ve mentioned earlier, sensory and fidget toys provide stimulation, which is important for promoting self-awareness. In addition, these toys are also helpful when it comes to building a connection with surroundings. There are some people who need additional stimulation to concentrate in the classroom or at work. Therefore, introducing small toys to them that are made for sensory stimulation can aid them to be more focused and productive in learning environments.
Provide Fun Mental Occupation
In addition to boosting the focus and productivity, sensory and fidget toys can also provide a fun mental break, making it easier to pay attention afterward. It is essential to break up work or study times with some free play of some sort. Fidget toys can provide an easy way to make that happen.
Different Types of Fidget and Sensory Toys
Fidget and sensory toys are available in a variety of shapes and sizes to be able to meet your needs and personal preferences. It’s because different people will consider different toys more helpful. The good thing is that fidget, and sensory toys are affordable enough, which makes people able to try more than one. Below are the different types of fidget toys:
When it comes to fidget toys, fidget spinners are probably the most popular. They became very popular in 2017 but existed well before that time. These toys claim to help kids and adults who have attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, keeping them entertained without electronics.
Most fidget spinners are made of plastic or metal. They are a three-pronged tool that can fit in a hand and is meant to be spun. While they are helpful for those who struggle with hand fidgeting, in the wrong use case, they can also be distracting. If you are interested in buying a fidget spinner, below are some examples that might help you choose:
- Rainbow Fidget Spinner: This fidget spinner comes in a rainbow color, giving a colorful, rainbow effect when spun. It has a longer spin of up to five minutes, making it great for both kids and adults who want to pass the time. It also claims to help increase focus and concentration when engrossed in thinking tasks.
- Figrol Light-Up Fidget Spinner: This is great if you are looking for a fidget spinner that can provide more fun. It has a light-up feature with three flashing modes. You can also choose whether to use it with or without lights.
Along with fidget spinners, fidget cubes also became popular in recent years. It is a six-sided toy that is a bit more complex as it has multiple options to keep the fingers busy. They are mostly made out of plastic, and each side includes different activities, such as clicking, twisting, flipping, and spinning, to keep the hands occupied while the mind focuses on other activities.
For some experts, fidget cubes are beneficial for people who have anxiety disorders and trauma as they can give distraction and ease discomfort in specific situations. Also, since there are different options for these devices, they are also great for those who have sensory processing issues because they can choose a side that works best for them. However, the main disadvantage of fidget cubes is that some of their sides include activities that make noise, which can be distracting to other people.
Below are some examples of fidget cubes if you are looking into buying one:
- ProJoyJoy Fidget Cube: This fidget cube features activities like clicking, gliding, flipping, breathing, rolling, and spinning, which can help in releasing stress and anxiety. It is light and fun for everyone to use.
- Fidget Dodecagon Fidget Cube: If you are looking for a fidget cube that offers more activities, then this fidget dodecagon is a great choice. It has 12 sides that will keep the fingers occupied, helping reduce stress and anxiety. It has buttons, switches, gears, stress balls, disks, joysticks, and more. It is also light and durable, making it great when traveling.
These are quite the latest craze when it comes to fidget toys. Pop Its are very simple toys, and they come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. In addition to being a simple fidget toy, it also has other benefits, such as helping kids work on their motor skills and providing stress relief. Pop Its are made out of silicon, making them easy to clean and carry around. It also does not pose many risks. The only con they have is that they can make a bit of noise, but it depends on how hard the user push them down.
Below are some examples of Pop Its that might help you in choosing the best one for your needs:
- Mr. Pen Poppers Fidget Toy: This is a pack of two Pop Its that are in rainbow color. One is circle-shaped, and the other is square. It is made of non-toxic and environmental-friendly silicone. They produce a relaxing popping sound, and their texture pampers the fingertips, making them relaxing toys for both adults and kids.
- Big Pop It Fidget Toy: This one is a big Pop It fidget toy that features 100 bubble pop. It is perfect for those who can’t get enough of normal-sized Pop Its.
There are different sizes, shapes, and materials for stress balls. These toys can help in expelling energy to calm the nerves. They have also been shown to signal relaxation and strengthen muscles in the wrists and hands. There are also stress balls that feature added scents to aid in stress or anxiety relief. Some even have motivational and calming phrases inscribed on them. Below are some examples of stress balls if you are thinking of buying some for your loved ones:
- Elibia Motivational Stress Balls: These stress balls feature motivational quotes that may help relieve stress. It can be squeezed as hard as you can to boost your mood and energy. These balls are made of 100% polyurethane, making them durable.
- Pop Fidget Ball: This toy is both a Pop It and a stress ball in one. When squeezed, it will slightly sink downwards and make a popping sound, which relieves stress and vent pressure.
Putty is also known as play-doh. It comes in different colors. It is among the fidget toys that are silent and less distracting. It is a great toy for kids and adults who enjoy feeling textured items on their hands, as well as those who need to work on their fine motor skills. Most fidget putty products are made of non-toxic materials, but they can still be dangerous for young children. They are best for kids who are between the ages of 8 and 12. Below are some examples of putty fidgets that might help you in choosing the best one for your needs:
- Silly Putty Variety Eggs: This is a variety pack of Crayola Silly Putty featuring five toys in different colors. They can be stretched, snapped, sculpted, and more for stress relief and relaxation.
- Crazy Aaron’s Putty Mini Tins Funky Fidget: This is a set of four mini tins of putty with different colors and textures. They can be squeezed, kneaded, snapped, stretched, and popped, building hand and finger strength through tactile play experience.
In addition to toys that use hands, there are also sensory tools that involve the use of the mouth. It’s because there are cases when kids or sometimes adults chew on their nails, hair, sleeves, pencils, and more. When you choose chewable sensory toys, you need to make sure that they are made of latex-free, BPA-free, lead-free, and PVA-free materials and that they are safe to put in the mouth. While these toys are designed for all ages, adult supervision is still needed when purchasing this type of toy for kids.
Below are some examples of chewable pendants that might help you choose the best one for your needs:
- Atsky Chew Necklaces for Sensory Kids: This chew necklace for kids is made of food-grade silicone. It does not contain any BPA, PVC, latex, or phthalates. It also comes with a satin nylon cord that will not irritate the skin or pull the hair. It comes in a cute sushi design.
- Sensory Chew Necklaces: This is a set of sensory chew necklaces that come in different shapes and colors. They are also made of food-grade silicone, and no harmful chemicals are added. All of them come in medium hardness and are also long-lasting.
Mindful Breathing Straws
Mindful breathing straws are also called stress straws. They are derived from the breathing practice called straw breathing. It is an anxiety-reducing method that can be used with or without a straw. It begins with inhaling normally and naturally through the nose, then exhaling by mouth through a straw. The straw can be an essential tool to aid people in exhaling fully, decreasing anxiety or panic, and regaining natural balance. Below are a few examples of mindful breathing straws to help you choose:
- Stress Straws Mindful Breathing Straw Pendant: This is a functional eco-chic jewelry that features a modern and minimalist style in natural wooden color and polished finish. It is handmade and safe to use. It also comes with a free digital download of the Breaths that Work straw breathing exercise workbook.
- Spiro Premium Mindfulness Breathing Necklace: This is a shift breathing necklace that can help you meditate successfully and improve your mental health. It can help in calming down people experiencing anxiety attacks. It also has a wooden material, making it eco-friendly.
These toys usually feature bright colors and curvy parts that you can twist and move around freely. They are simple and quiet fidget toys that both kids and adults enjoy. In addition to fidgeting, tangle toys are also puzzles or brain-teasers. They push individuals to think and manipulate the toy in new and exciting ways. In addition to soothing people, these toys are also great for improving creativity and imagination.
Below are some examples of tangle toys that might help you choose:
- Boxgear Multicolored Tangle Toys: This is a set of tangle toys that come in different shapes and colors. They are all easy to use and best for relaxation, stress relief, and decompression. They can be squeezed, twisted, and turned, making them great for both kids and adults who have sensory issues.
- Tangle Jr. Fuzzy Fidget Toy: This is a fuzzy and multi-colored tangle toy that is a great way to relieve stress. It has 18 pieces of interconnected parts, which will keep your fingers and hands good and busy. Each piece is covered with a soft and fuzzy material, which is designed for maximum tactile pleasure.
In addition to the toys mentioned above, there are many other fidget and sensory toys that you can discover. Some are great for visual learning, mood regulation, auditory processing, smell identification, and more.
Things to Consider When Buying Fidget and Sensory Toys
While there are many options for fidget toys, learning what toys are right for you or your loved one is essential. Recognizing the need is the most important thing in order to provide them with the right toys. If you will buy a fidget or sensory toy for your loved one soon, below are some of the important factors that you need to consider to be able to choose the right fidget and sensory toy that will help him or her:
The main goal of using a fidget toy is to manage anxiety or aid with attention and focus. But always remember that when dealing with anxiety, ADHD, dementia, and other conditions, it is important to always seek professional help. Keep in mind that fidget and sensory toys are not replacements for therapy and medications. If your loved ones are particularly stressed, anxious, or unable to focus in certain situations, a fidget or sensory toy may help them relax and redirect their focus and attention. Therefore, before you buy a toy, make sure that you are aware of the needs of your loved ones.
When choosing a fidget toy, the environment is an essential factor that you also have to consider. For instance, if you are looking for a toy that your loved one can bring to work or other places, picking one that is small and silent is more suitable to avoid distractions. These can be in the form of stress balls, putty, and the like, as they can allow people to engage in the situation around them while discreetly relieving fidgeting tendencies, stress, and anxiety.
Look and Feel
It is also important to choose a toy that feels comfortable and satisfying. Make sure that they enjoy the sensory texture of the toy and that they feel comfortable using them even in public. Also, for young children, avoid choosing toys that are too small or present a choking hazard. You need to ensure that they will surely enjoy the toy that you will be buying.
Quality and Durability
Since fidget and sensory toys are mostly used during anxious and stressful times, you have to make sure that they are strong enough to withstand wear and tear. Picking toys that are made of stronger materials are better, especially if they will be used for stress and anxiety relief. You also have to ensure that the materials used are safe and non-toxic.
When looking for fidget toys, choose those that are as low-tech as possible. The simpler the toys are, the better. Fidget and sensory toys do not have to be cutting-edge or expensive. As long as they can keep the hands busy to alleviate nervous energy, they are good options.
Transitioning Away from Fidget and Sensory Toys
After finding the right type of fidget and sensory toy for your loved ones, you have to teach them how to use the toys properly. Once they learn, try to monitor the situation and see if the toys are working well for them. As time pass, they may not need to use the toys as often. Try to make them realize that those toys may only be needed at certain times, such as when they are working on longer tasks that require more focus. Do not let them be overly dependent on these toys, as they are best to be used only when they feel anxious or distracted.
Fidget and sensory toys can possibly be beneficial for both adults and children who have special needs, but these toys can also be enjoyed by all types of people. They are made to calm the senses and aid in relaxation in times of stressful events. These toys can provide soothing effects whenever someone experiences sensory challenges.
Remember that not all fidget and sensory toys work well with all types of people. That’s why taking your time to learn about the needs of your loved ones and the different options available is important. Also, always consider seeking professional help when it comes to mental health issues. We hope this post helped you learn more about selecting fidget and sensory toys.
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