Sensory Play

DIY Sensory Play (Featuring Products We Love)

Posted by Heather Dixon

The sharpness of a bitter lemon. The fragrance of fresh rain. The plush feeling of a warm blanket. Everyone relies on their senses to understand the world, but for little ones, it’s even more important. When kids take part in sensory play, they’re exploring through touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight, and hearing—all things that are crucial for brain development. That’s why it’s common to find your little one constantly putting things in their mouths, grabbing things, and climbing on everything.

And because it’s so important for them, it’s also a great idea to encourage sensory play. But if you don’t want to find your car keys in your little one’s mouth (again), we’ve got some other ways you can encourage your child to take part in that sensory goodness.

Here are 5 great toys that can help your child make the most out of their sensory play. 


Baabaaball from Manhattan Toys. Brightly colored ribbons and black and white patterned ribbons tied together in a ball for sensory play for babies.


A bababall (we love that name!) is shaped with different textures, patterns, and colors, all woven together by a series of bands into a soft ball. It’s easy to grip for little hands and has thick, satin ribbons attached to the outside for even more stimulation. Did we mention that it also rattles when shaken? Babies will love this from Manhattan Toy.


Baby lays down on stomach for tummy time to play with the cotton and wooden Grasping Toy from Clover & Birch.

Grasping Toy Set

Designed for the littlest of explorers, this Montessori-inspired wooden toy set from Clover and Birch includes an easy-to-hold rattle, grasping beads, and interlocking discs. Each piece is carefully made with maple wood and organic cotton ribbon and will help introduce your baby (and their young mind) to the world of learning toys. 


Red trimmed mat with mirror and cover, black and white patch images and colorful middle square Crawl & Discover Mat by Manhattan Toy.

Crawl & Discover Mat

This play mat from Manhattan Toy is a baby wonderland! It includes flaps with reverse print graphics, teethers, various textures, and—the ever popular—crinkle paper! There’s also a removable mirror that encourages self-discovery. A great toy for babies to explore during tummy time.


Simple black and white cards printed on sturdy board in adorable animal designs to help babies focus by Wee Gallery.

Art Cards for Babies

These simple cards with adorable black-and-white designs can help develop your baby's visual perception. From alpacas to ducklings (and even a tapir), Wee Gallery's cute designs with distinct edges can help little eyes engage and focus. And because they’re printed on sturdy board, these cards will stand up to baby's explorations.


Clover & Birch wooden Busy Bag - 4 Pack

Busy Bag Set - 4 Pack

When you need to take your sensory play with you on the go, this four-pack of busy bag sets from Clover+ Birch is perfect. Keep these in the car so you’ve got sensory play on hand for appointments, long car rides, or when you’re dining out. Then, simply grab a bag and let your children discover and play!

What are some of your favorite ways to DIY sensory play?


Heather Dixon is a Managing Editor of a non-profit website and author of fiction. She spent over a decade in the marketing and advertising industry as a copywriter, and has also written about motherhood for a number of established websites, including Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Motherly, Pregnant Chicken, Red Tricycle and others. You can find her at