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Sensory Strategies for Toddlers

Every child can benefit from sensory-rich experiences and environments; however, not all suggestions and strategies are appropriate and individualized for your child. Some children are sensitive to sensations while others are sensory seeking. Here are some tips of what to look for in your child:

  • Active children tend to be sensory seekers and are always on the go. They might crave intense forms of sensory experiences and engage in movement activities such as jumping, falling, crashing, and pushing.

  • Sensitive, fearful, or avoidable children tend to be sensory avoidant and have a difficult time participating in every day routines. They might be fearful of falling, state that a tag on their shirt is painful, avoid certain textures or smells of foods, or walks on their tip toes.


Calming Activities

  • Breathing exercises such as blowing out candles or blowing up balloons.

  • Stretching. Have your child reach the sky or touch their toes.

  • Motion can at times calm a child. Have the child rock on a horse, swing on a swing, or slow down their walk pace by having them walk on a balance beam.

  • Hugging. Firm hugs help sooth children. If a child does not like to be touched, have the child lie on a blanket and pull them for a carpet ride; this gives even pressure to the whole body.

  • Reading. Reading provides language and cognitive stimulation, but also contact with the parent.


  • Lighting. Provide a dimly-lit area with calming music.

  • Reduce Stimulation. Dim the lights in the room and reduce the noise in the room.

  • White noise such as background music or nature sound recordings can help calm and sooth a child.

“Heavy Work”

  • Scooping, dumping, pouring sand, water, dry foods (e.g., noodles, beans, rice, jellybeans, etc.) can help children organize.

  • Physical activity such as jumping, running, and skipping; carrying “heavy” materials such as books or a carton of milk; and digging in dirt or sand helps children develop sensory motor skills.


Boy covering his ears [image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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