The Challenge of Buying Gifts for Kids with Sensory Issues
Raising kids with sensory issues can be challenging under the best of circumstances. No matter how strictly you stick to a schedule, try to maintain consistency, or make sure the carrots never touch the chicken, the world isn’t a perfect place. I am a strong advocate against clutter and too many toys for every child, and even more so for kids with sensory needs. Here is a massive list of sensory-friendly gifts for both sensory seekers and sensory avoiders. My hope is that this will enable you to purchase gifts with confidence, foster growth, and avoid clutter.
Most of the items you see here have been used by our family, the others came as direct suggestions from parents of kids with sensory issues. In other words, these are all parent and child approved!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
The Best Gifts for Sensory Seekers
Using a weighted blanket is like being wrapped in a hug (for people who like hugs). Or like putting on soft, wool socks in the winter (for people like me). Weighted blankets have been proven to help with anxiety, restless legs, and sleep issues. We own four weighted blankets and I cannot say enough good things about them! You can read my full review of four different brands or if you’re in a rush, just order one of these from Amazon.
Sensory seeking kids (and giant 18-year-olds like mine) love the feeling of being wrapped up in a sensory sock. Another bonus? They can be tossed in the washer and dryer, and fold up so they are taking up a ton of room. My son with autism has one of these and loves it.
Yogibo Bean Bags
We own two of these. The Yogibo Max and the Yogibo Roll. After about a year, I bought a new cover (we still have the original one, but I wanted a second so I could just swap them out when I wash them). This is a great investment. It is really comfortable for typical kids and adults and meets the sensory needs of my son with autism.
Sensory Gifts for Kids with TOO MUCH ENGERY
I know, I know, I shouldn’t say “too much energy”. I should frame it in a positive light like “energetic”! “go-getter”! “full of life”! But if you have a hypractive child, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Balance Stepping Stones
Not only are these great for kids with sensory issues, but almost any presschooler will love the challenge of hopping from stone to stone. These are great for setting up indoor obstacle courses for those of use who live in wet, rainy climates.
60″ Outdoor Swing
This swing was the first thing I purchased in March when our governor announced a lockdown and school was canceled for six weeks. This swing got daily use during the spring and summer.
My kids are still using it on nice days, but I am about to take it down and put it in storage so it isn’t damaged over the winter. Yes, this swing isn’t cheap, but it is well worth it for the sensory benefits and for the exercise.
We own two of these. One is the Kinderboard Waldorf Balance Board. It is sturdy, fun, and beautiful. Aside from being used to balance, it is fun to use as a bridge or slide for toys. This is geared for younger kids, ages 18 months to age 5.
We also have this Carrom Balance Board. This is definitely for older kids (I’d say 8 and up) and adults. It is fun to use and improves balance and helps strengthen core muscles.
Milliard Crash Pad
Gifts for Kids Who Don’t Mind Getting Messy
These are wonderful for kids who are sensory seekers! My kids love these. They are perfect for long, rainy days when everyone is a little stir crazy. When my kids were younger they loved to combine them with LEGO, toy animals, and anything else they can dream up. These are cheap enough to make fun stocking stuffers. we have clear ones, but Amazon also offers colored ones.
This stuff is so much fun and offers an amazing sensory experience. I am 44 and I love running this stuff through my hands. It is low-mess and kids can build and sculpt with it. It is inexpensive ($7.99 for two pounds) and comes in a variety of colors. We keep ours in a plastic bin with a lid.
Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
Thinking Putty has long been a staple in our house. Enoch has a large collection of this Thinking Putty. Last year I bought a 12 pack off of Amazon and kept them stored away. They make perfect birthday gifts (no last minute shopping when my kids get invited to parties) and are also a fun way to brighten up a long day. I even have a great tutorial about How to Get Thinking Putty Out of Eyelashes…just in case your kids are anything like mine.
Stress Balls for Kids with Sensory Issues
Come one, everyone loves stress balls. There is just something so calming about squishing and squeezing one of these. This is my favorite brand of stress ball and you can buy a four pack for under $10!
Popping Bubble Sensory Toy
Everybody loves to pop bubbles! Now you can have the satisfaction of popping bubbles with no mess or choking hazard. And speaking of bubbles, you may want to try out my giant bubble recipe and DIY bubble wands.
Pinwheels Are Great for Regulating Breathing and Calming Down
Did you know that the simple act of blowing on a pinwheel can calm someone down? Best of all, pinwheels are inexpensive and easy to travel with. I recommend you keep a sensory bin in your vehicle for those days when your child is just being…extra…
Chewy Necklaces for Kids with Sensory Issues
Have any of your kids been shirt-chewers? Both Enoch and Apollo relieved stress when they were young by chewing on the front of these shirts. Enoch, at age 5, could chew holes in a brand new shirt in less than a day. When Apollo started the same thing around age 5 we bought him a LEGO shaped chewy necklace. The cool part about these necklaces is they come in so many styles. We purchased one for my teen son with autism that looked like an animal claw.
Sensory Path Decals
We had all seen the vidoes of schools will sensory walks/palths in them. These decals make it easy to design and customize your own sensory path. This would be great in a dedicated sensory room or basement.
Smencils Graphite Scented Pencils
and Mr. Sketch Scented Markers. These fun scented pencils not only smell goo, but they also write well (I hate the cheap novelty pencils that you can’t actually sharpen).
And, finally, the list I put together last year. I hope these helpf you find the perfect gift for the snesory seeker in your life!
- Cowin Noise-Cancelling Headphones Mordecai has these noise-canceling headphones and wears them every day. They work great.
- Squigz These are so great for sensory seekers. They stick to doors, windows, and walls and make a satisfying *pop* when you pull them off. They are lightweight and can be thrown and bounced. We love these at our house.
- Sequin Hedgehog This cute little hedgehog is covered with sequins and it is so satisfying to rub back and forth.
- CozyPhones Apollo and Mordecai both love these CozyPhones. I reviewed them here.
- Manimo Weighted Lizard You KNOW how we feel about weighted blankets. Well, the same goes for weighted plush toys.
- Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty We love this stuff. We have bought dozens of cans over the years. We love it even if kids sometimes get it stuck in their eyelashes.
- Spiky Sensory Balls Poky balls. Need I say more?
- Weighted Blanket You are probably sick about hearing all about The Wonders of Weighted Blankets so I’ll just leave a link to the post where I review four different brands.
- Kinetic Sand
- Water Beads Five years and we still love our water beads.
- Pin Art You know you love these. No one can resist the poky fun of one of these.