Best Toys for Energetic Toddlers

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A little while back I wrote this post telling you a bit about our journey with Wesley–my sweet, intelligent, creative and compassionate 3.5 year old little guy who also attends speech therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral therapy several times a week.  Over the last two and a half years, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve found myself saying “I wish I knew about this back when we started this journey–it would have made life so much easier“.  Usually it’s in reference to some tool or technique that would assist me in being a better parent to my energetic dude.  And while I still have oh-so-much to learn, I thought I would put together a series of posts with some of the tools that have proven helpful to me. This post will provide you with a handful of my favorite toys/activities designed to give Wesley the exercise and sensory input his little body needs in order for him to be at his best. These toys are fabulous for the healthy development in all children–even those not working on sensory integration therapy.

1. Skuut Bike: Here’s whats unique about this bike–NO PEDALS. Pedals can be frustrating for a high energy toddler who hasn’t yet developed the coordination to effectively steer and pedal at the same time. Wesley has a similar version of this bike and he rides it down our greenbelt every single day, which is a great way to burn off a ton of energy while also developing balance, learning to steer, and fine tuning those motor skills.

2. Plasma Car: Similar to the Skuut Bike, the Plasma Car does not have pedals.  It is low to the ground so it’s not as scary when/if you fall down.  And these sweet little toddlers can get moving around pretty fast on these puppies. I wish they made them in an adult size!

3. Trampoline: Wesley’s occupation therapist highly recommended that we get him a trampoline to burn off large amounts of energy and provide him with the sensory input that his body needs. Trampolines are particularly beneficial for children who may be dealing with a sensory processing disorder. The repetitive stimulation of bouncing into a rebounding surface helps teach the body over a period of time how to read those impulses it has not been able to interpret. In addition to the physical therapy benefits, I like to also use the trampoline to teach Wes numbers and counting and help him work on following directions to perform certain activities. The rhythmic stimulus soothes many children, helping them learn to realign their sensory systems.

4. Tunnel Tent: The tunnel tent is portable, flexible and can be squished up and packed neatly away in your closet.  It encourages imaginative play and is a great toy for children who experience anxiety in confined and/or dark places.  Sometimes I make Wesley a plate of snacks and let him watch a movie on the iPad inside the tunnel–like a little fort.

5. Sensory Balls: I’ve learned that it is important to expose children to a variety of textures at a very early age. These balls are a great way to introduce your child to a unique texture with an item they already enjoy playing with. Wesley still plays catch with these, and now Sawyer enjoys them as well. I’ve mentioned before that we have some challenges getting Wesley to wear certain clothing items.  To help him overcome this, we roll the bumpy surface of these sensory balls on his arms, legs, back and tummy to help desensitize his skin to different textures.

6. Swing: The very first thing I ever learned from Wesley’s occupational therapist was that pushing him in a swing helps calm his body.  So immediately after this discovery, I started taking Wesley to the park every single day to spend at least 30 minutes on the swings. Eventually I realized it would be very convenient to have a swing in our backyard (so we got this one). Swings are an important part of sensory integration therapy.  It is the rhythmic input that can calm a child and give them the vestibular (movement) input their bodies need.  You may have even noticed this in an inconsolable infant–sometimes the swing is the most successful activity in calming a crying baby.

7. Hoppity Ball: Similar to the trampoline, the hoppity ball provides the same sensory input in the form of repetitive stimulation. Rather than sitting on the couch to watch their favorite tv show, you can have your child sit and bounce on the hoppity ball to work off extra energy and receive the input they need.

*Note: Many of the links to recommended products in this post are affiliate links. I always link to products that I wholeheartedly endorse–and products that I have tried or that can be found on my ever-growing wish list. 

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  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve been wanting to look into a trampoline like this one, I think my boy would love it

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

    #4….that’s what I need!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    That skuut bike looks fun. Much better than a tricycle and all the frustration that comes along with pedaling. TFS

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    great suggestions Ashley! we own most of these toys, like little Wesley, my Benny needs the sensory input they provide and then some. every time i read your blog i feel less alone in our SPD/OT/Speech journey. my friends kinda look at me funny if i try to explain Ben’s “quirks”, but I know that SPD is a new and different concept to understand. thank you for your open honesty and dedication to your sweet boy. i’m sure everyone that reads your blog thinks this, but we would have lots to talk about if we ever met. every time I read a post about W, i think, “that’s so Benny!” 🙂 you are such a good mom and an inspiration to all of us!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    I am a preschool/kindergarten teacher. It is so important for parents to do all they can to help their child, giving them the best start. Education is the end to situations like Ashley’s lil W experiences. Meaning, by educating herself, Ashley and her husband can make their home more peaceful by learning what makes W tick.
    That being said, being at home helps children like W. I know people need to work, but I believe in most cases you can cut back financially to live off one salary for the benefit of your kids. However, times have changes and people can work from home. Ashley makes money off her posts and her writing and promoting things that can be helpful, how is this different from making money from working at Starbucks.
    Way to go Ashley for helping other parents!

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Even though I’m sure there is a weight limit on the Plasma Car, adults can totally ride them. Both my husband and I have ridden onet and it’s really fun and the car was strong enough for us! Try it! You’ll love it! 🙂

  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have a very energetic boy – who I sometimes call “crazy” he is definitely a handful. I am always looking for new toys to keep him active and busy.

    xoxo, Misty

  • Reply
    March 12, 2013 at 2:05 am

    I love all your toy suggestions! I am an occupational therapist and its interesting to hear a parents prospective. If you’re interested you should look into a program called the Alert Program. It works on teaching kids self-regulation stratigies. I really feel like as a child grows this is the most important thing you can teach them. Good luck to you and your boys.

  • Reply
    March 12, 2013 at 2:26 am

    I agree with Jennifer – the plasma car is super fun for adults! (and the weight limit is super high so you don’t have to worry!. 🙂 )

  • Reply
    March 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Such great ideas! My little guy could use a few of these. I especially love the trampoline and the tunnel.

  • Reply
    Cam | Bibs & Baubles
    March 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I’ll take them ALL… two of them! HA! My three year old is a ball of energy. These would all come in handy!

  • Reply
    Erin @ Axell's Kitchen
    March 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Love all of these suggestions! The trampoline looks so fun for them!

  • Reply
    March 13, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    The Skuut bike is similar to what my daughter has and she loves it! She is almost three and will race around on that thing. Now I just need to find something for my one-year-old so that I am not chasing after her carrying 25 pounds on my hip. A wagon, perhaps? Hmmm….

  • Reply
    March 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    That trampoline is pretty much the only toy my kids don’t have!

  • Reply
    Alicia Peterson
    March 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    My kids were always fans of ride on toys. They would love the plasma car, it looks like a lot of fun!

  • Reply
    Dani Dickinson
    April 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Such fantastic ideas! And not tech oriented. Real old fashioned get up and go motor skill toys! Great read! Great blog!

  • Reply
    Amanda Brian
    February 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    You have given me some great ideas for my little toddler son. Thanks for sharing this valuable piece

  • Reply
    February 3, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Plasma Car is perfect for my 3 year old boy. He always love to play and never get tired. 🙂 Lol

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