These 10 best fidget toys will help relax, calm, and reduce stress. Do your children have trouble staying focused on educational tasks? Many children, with and without disabilities, benefit from fidget toys. They are great for helping kids manage anxiety and reduce stress.
They are great for helping kids manage anxiety and reduce stress. Fidget toys are often used by people who have anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, anyone can benefit from using them.
Many kids can attend better to a task when they have something in their hand to fidget with. Kids and adults enjoy these, so we’re going to give you a list of some of the best options!
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What is a Fidget Toy?
These items are used by children to help them reduce stress and anxiety and focus on the task at hand. They are often small, easy to carry around, and calming. A fidget toy generally has something that can be popped, pressed, stretched, or clicked. Many children (including toddlers), especially those with particular sensory challenges, need this consistent stimulation to keep themselves regulated.
Types of Fidget Toys
More and more teachers around the country are considering fidget tools as essential classroom school supplies, especially for children with special needs.
Teens and adults tend to use fidgets that are small and provide a bit of sensory input while allowing them to attend to other tasks. They might squeeze a stress ball while reading
Younger children will be interested in the bright colors and fun popping, snapping and clicking they can do with the different fidgets available.
10 Fidget Toys
There are lots of popular fidget toys available in stores and online. If you’re looking for just the right fidget toy for your child, classroom or for yourself, take a look at our list below. Each fidget and sensory toy has a description as well as at least one pro and con to consider when shopping for the best fidget toy for your child.
Though certainly not the original sensory fidget toy, fidget spinners saw a huge spike in popularity within the past several years. This is a spinning toy that is easily held between the thumb and pointer finger. It can be spun in your hand or on a flat surface.
- Inexpensive, easy to find them in bulk for a classroom
- They come in a variety of colors and themes
- Kids can make their own, see this DIY Hand fidget Spinnners for tips and suggestions on creating your own fidgets.
- They can be distracting in a classroom, especially when kids begin to trade spinners and learn tricks
- Younger children may have difficulty balancing the spinner in their hands
The original “Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog” is a fun toy that has been around for years. It consisted of putting pegs in holes for fine motor practice. Now, Learning Resources has created their Fidget Friend version. It has six different fidgets with things to spin, turn and press. Kids will love playing with Spike!
Odds are you have seen these fidget toys pop up in stores all over! They are like bubble wrap that you can pop over and over again. They come in all sorts of shapes, so you can find one that fits your child best.
|The Larger ones (like notebooks or backpacks) can be more of a distraction than a calm down tool.|
This hand fidget strengthens the muscles in the hand as well as providing sensory input. When squeezed, the suction cups stick together and will separate with a satisfying pop.
These tubes stretch and twist with different fun sounds. These can be noisy, so they are best not used in a classroom setting.
|– Very inexpensive|
– One of the few fidget toys that stimulate the auditory sense.
|– Can be hard to clean the inside for mouthing kids.|
– Do not hold their shape well when chewed on.
– You may want to avoid if your child has sensitivity to noise.
These sensory discs come with five different textures. Included is a disc with a soft texture, a sand-like texture to squeeze, water beads to feel, reversible sequins to smooth over and over, and beads with a sort of “I Spy” ABC game to play and observe.
- You can DIY these using Ziploc bags or wood frames, bringing the cost down
- 5 discs to choose from, something to fit everyone
- Not ideal for children who chew or are rough with things
A classic stress and anxiety reliever, stress balls have been used by people of all ages for years. They are made of a rubber foam material that is soft and squishy. It returns to its original shape after being squeezed.
- You can find a stress ball to fit pretty much any interest from cartoon characters to objects like cars and food items
- You can DIY a stress ball by using a latex balloon and sand or flour & baking soda
- Not for mouthing kids, the foam material can break apart and become unsafe
- Kids with still-developing fine motor skills may find it difficult to squeeze
Maybe you remember those stretchy hands and feet from gumball machines. Stretchy strings are similar, but tougher! Many (like the ones linked) also come with a textured surface for even more sensory input.
- There are other ways to use them other than stretching them such as squeezing, twisting and squashing them
- Easy to wash, use just soap and water and let air dry
- Not meant to be chewed
- The squishy, stretchy material may be uncomfortable for people with tactile sensitivities
This puzzle cube has been around for years. In addition to being a fun puzzle game, it can also help as a sensory tool. Simply twist and turn the rows to match colors on each side.
- There are many combinations, making it appealing for those who seek novel visual stimuli
- The puzzle cube can be difficult for younger children to use
- Some children may find the actual Rubik’s challenge frustrating
This puzzle cube can fold and unfold on itself over and over. There is no right or wrong way to put this cube together. They come in different sizes and weights. For older children and adults, the smaller cubes can be used one-handed.
- Quiet and small, perfect for classroom use or on-the-go
- Can be folded and unfolded in dozens of ways
- Some Infinity Cubes can become less loose over time, making them difficult to manipulate
Check out our post on books about autism for kids to find a list of great books to read with children as well as some picks for adults to help support children further.
What to Consider
If you are providing fidget toys for a classroom, you’ll definitely want to take price into account, and look for materials that come in packs or in bulk. Noisy fidget toys will not be a priority. Great options for classroom fidgets are Pop Its and stress balls. These silent fidget toys allow children to get the stress relief that they need without disturbing other students. For at-home use, there is more flexibility. You can choose toys that make noise and are larger.
When you are looking for a fidget toy to support a child with special needs, consider the child rather than how the product is marketed. For example, Pop Tubes are named as a sensory tool for children with autism, but if the child is sensitive to noise you will want to steer clear of the noisy tubes.
What About Other Options?
Lots of fidgets are designed for kids and adults to use with their hands. But many students need other types of sensory input not limited to hand fidgets. There are other options to choose from, I have outlined some of them below!
Great for younger kids.
Also known as a “wiggle seat,” a wobble cushion can be used in a classroom or at home. It is an inflated cushion and works a child’s upper body as they keep their balance while sitting. There is a smooth side and a textured side.
The weighted lap pad provides a gentle pressure that helps students stay focused and calm. The benefit of using a lap pad is that it can be used over the lap or legs as well as over a child’s back when lying face down.
This band is meant to be stretched across the front two legs of a chair. Kids can bounce their feet on the rubber-band like material while they work at a table or desk.
You may find many kids with special needs chewing on their clothing or hands to get an oral need met. There are tools specifically designed for this, including the one linked above. They also come in a necklace design, making them less noticeable as a “chew toy.”
Stepping mats stimulate the feet and work well with and without socks, depending on the sensitivities of the child. You can also DIY these with a variety of materials like artificial grass, pom poms and different fabrics.
No matter what a child’s needs are for requiring a fidget toy, there is definitely something out there to support them. This list is a perfect first step toward finding an item that helps your child (or yourself!) reduce stress and anxiety, focus on tasks, or even relieve boredom!