An occupational therapist on TikTok offers five toddler activities that can help young kids regulate themselves through sensory experiences
When you’re playing with your toddler, do you often find that they want to climb on you or push their body into yours? If so, that’s completely normal! Toddlers seek sensory experiences that help them explore the world and regulate themselves—and Courtney English, a pediatric occupational therapist, is offering five toddler activities you can do with your little ones to help encourage this kind of play in safe, fun ways in a new TikTok video.
Before we dive in, note that most of these exercises involve props. While you’re not required to get these by any means, if you’re looking for toys that serve a dual purpose (for example, both play and sensory stimulation), the ones used in this video could be great to add to your list.
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♬ Would That I (True that I saw her hair like the branch of a tree) – Hozier
The first activity English recommends is foot squeezes, which she says she uses before naps or bedtime to help her toddler relax and prepare for rest.
The second is a tactile balance disk, which has a pebbly surface for toddlers to stand on while they balance on the floor. English says they use this in two ways: either to pick up from the floor and toss into a bucket or to stand on, which stimulates multiple different senses at once.
The third toddler activity English recommends is balance pods, which she sets up as an obstacle course for her toddler to cross. While she has specific props for this, you could easily use household objects to create platforms for your toddler to balance on and recreate this activity.
Fourth is play couches, which are a popular toddler toy. English recommends using them to create obstacle courses to stimulate the senses while building motor skills.
Finally, the fifth toddler activity is tactile discs, which are similar to the balance disks used in the second activity but sit flat on the floor. These are great for toddlers to stand on while eating if they have a hard time sitting still, English says.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, all of these activities include movement and work to engage your toddler’s senses. So even if you don’t have the same toys English uses, you can definitely look for opportunities to recreate these activities using household items with different textures for your toddler to touch and feel as they play.