Best Autism Toys for Toddlers

Don’t underestimate the power of play for a child. It’s more than just fun and games; it’s an essential ingredient for building a strong foundation in social skills, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and even physical development. 

For autistic children, play takes on an even greater significance. It becomes a bridge to understanding the world around them and a safe space to connect with others. Through playful interactions, autistic children can learn valuable life skills.

autism toys for toddlers

However, the way autistic children engage with play might differ from their neurotypical peers.  So, we created this guide, in which we’ll review various toys and identify options that are not only engaging but also beneficial for autistic children.

Sensory Toys for Autistic Children

Sensory toys are like playgrounds for the senses! They provide a way for kids to explore their world through touch, sight, sound, smell, and even taste.  Imagine a soft, squishy ball that fits perfectly in your hand. Squeezing it calms your nerves and helps you focus. 

That’s the magic of sensory toys! These aren’t just for autistic children, although they can be a huge help. All kids can benefit from sensory play.  Some sensory toys help kids with autism feel calmer and more aware of their surroundings.

Think of a weighted blanket that feels like a big hug, or a chew toy that provides a safe outlet for chewing needs. There are even toys that move and vibrate, giving a fun sense of movement. The best part? Many sensory toys are super easy to find. 

You can even make them yourself! Think bubbles, water play, or homemade play dough. So next time you’re looking for a way to engage your child’s senses and help them learn and grow, consider the wonderful world of sensory toys!

autism toys for toddlers

How to Choose The Best Toys For Autistic Children

When choosing toys, consider your child’s skills and interests, not just their age. If your child has delays in language or social skills, pick toys that match their development level. This helps them learn and play without getting frustrated.

Pick Calming Toys to Ease Anxiety

Many autistic children struggle with social cues and communication, leading to stress and meltdowns. Soothing toys can be a lifesaver!  For calming input, consider gentle vibrating pillows, slow-moving light displays, or weighted blankets.

Choose Sensory Toys Based on Your Child’s Preferences

Does your child love bright lights? A light projector or colorful pinwheel could be a hit. If they crave interesting textures, try fidget toys or textured play dough. Remember, sometimes simpler is better. Avoid toys with too much stimulation that could overwhelm your child.

Help Develop Social Skills Through Play

Social interaction can be challenging for children with autism, but practice makes progress! Consider games that teach turn-taking, recognizing emotions, or starting conversations. Board games with simple rules or picture bingo can be a great starting point.

Great Autism Toys for Toddlers

Choosing the right toys can be like finding a magical key to unlock your toddler’s world. Remember, the best toys are the ones that light up your child’s face and help them learn and grow through play.

Best for Sensory Development

Play-Doh is a classic for a reason! It’s fantastic for autistic toddlers because of its versatility. They can squish it, mold it, bend it, and cut it into anything their imagination dreams up. This hands-on exploration is a great way for them to freely express themselves. 

Plus, Play-Doh’s soft texture, bold colors, and unique scent create a delightful sensory experience for many autistic children. It’s a win-win for sensory fun and developing those important fine motor skills!

Best Fidget Toy

The Dimpl is a fantastic fidget toy for toddlers on the spectrum. This little gem fits right in one hand and is super lightweight, making it a perfect take-anywhere companion.  It features five satisfying silicone bubbles that are just begging to be pushed and popped. 

The Dimpl is also a safe choice for curious toddlers who like to explore with their mouths.  Made from BPA-free plastic with food-grade silicone bubbles, it can withstand some chewing without worry.  Just remember, the bubbles need space on both sides to pop effectively.

Best for Nonverbal Kids

This digital book is a fantastic tool to help nonverbal toddlers with autism build vocabulary. It features 12 interactive pages filled with familiar objects, people, animals, food, and places your child encounters daily. 

Moreover, the sturdy plastic construction ensures these pages won’t get ripped.  Even better, this book is part of a series with six different options, all featuring bilingual settings that can switch between English and Spanish or English and Chinese!

Best Calming Toy

Harkla Sensory Swing can be a great option for several reasons. First, swinging can satisfy a natural urge to move, which can help reduce anxiety in some children.  It can also stimulate the inner ear, which can be helpful for toddlers with a vestibular system that’s not quite in sync.  

The Harkla Sensory Swing doubles as a mini jungle gym, giving your little one a chance to build balance and strength. But the real magic happens when your child climbs inside.  The swing can be folded around them, creating a cozy cocoon that provides deep pressure.

Best Sorting Game

The Bmag Rainbow Counting/Sorting Bears might be the perfect pick if you want to tap into your toddler’s natural love of sorting and lining things up!  These colorful little bears come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them ideal for sorting by color, shape, or even size. 

This set goes a step further by including two large tweezers. These not only help with sorting but also strengthen fine motor skills as your child grasps and picks up the bears.  The best part? The entire set packs up neatly into a carrying case, making cleanup a breeze for carrying!

Best Lining Up Toy

This wooden set from Melissa & Doug is a dream come true for toddlers who love lining things up. The colorful train cars and wagons connect with strong magnets, making it a breeze for little hands to create long lines or intricate tracks.  

As your child builds their railway masterpiece, they’ll be learning valuable cause-and-effect skills. Lining up the cars shows them how their actions create a result while connecting the tracks strengthens their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Best for Social Skills

This wooden play kitchen isn’t just fun, it’s a social skills booster!  The included pretend food and accessories inspire imaginative restaurant or cafe play.  While your child whips up a pretend feast, they can practice taking orders and communicating with customers (you!).

These interactions help toddlers develop social skills like cooperation, turn-taking, and communication – all essential for building friendships and navigating social situations. Keep in mind, however, that your chef might need a little help putting things together first.

The Takeaway

By choosing the right toys, you can create a world of fun and learning for your autistic toddler. Toys can be a powerful tool to help them focus their energy. They provide a safe outlet for self-stimulatory behaviors and can help them relax as well.

These toys can also strengthen fine motor skills, encourage exploration and creativity, and even help with communication. The best part? Many toys are simple and affordable, or you can even create your own at home. 

So why not get started today and discover the joy of playing and learning alongside your autistic toddler? Remember, play is essential for all children, and with the right toys, it can be a truly transformative experience for your little one.


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