Finding a gift for a little one can be tricky, yet this is the most straightforward time to find something they will be content with. If the little one you are shopping for is a baby or toddler, sensory toys are a great way to go!
Sensory toys are a superb option for a unique baby or toddler gift set because they are designed to encourage exploration, stimulate the senses, and promote cognitive and motor skill development. Plus, sensory toys do all of this without requiring batteries or driving parents crazy with noises and tunes!
Not all baby sensory toys are created equal, so here are a few tips on what to look for and why, as well as a few solid options and playful ways to make the gift set fun to unpack.
9 Unique Sensory Toy Gift Set Ideas
Sensory toys come in various shapes, sizes, materials, colors, and functions, making this a daunting world to venture into, especially online. Age-appropriate engagement is the key to finding a unique sensory toy gift set for a baby or toddler.
Little ones' brains develop rapidly from infancy to kindergarten. In fact, from 0 to 3 years old, a little one is creating 1 million new neural connections per minute (source)! And by 5, that mind will have created 90% of the neural connections it needs for adulthood (source)!
So, instead of buying a flashy, electric-disco noisemaker or yet another screen, why not invest in helping that little one make quality neural connections? Sensory toys, particularly Montessori-inspired sensory toys, are designed to get a wee one active in play. There's no "sit and watch" with these, precisely what little minds and bodies need!
1. Personalized Luxe Playtime Gift Set
Looking for something you cannot find at Target, Walmart, or Etsy? Check out Moonkie's Personalized Luxe Playtime Gift Set! Made with high-quality food-grade silicone, the variety of sensory baby toys in this set will surely delight the little one you have in mind through multiple stages of early development!
Within this gorgeous set, everything is "nommable," which is perfect for teething babies. The Koala 2-in-1 Teether is adorable and easily graspable with a textured top for soothing those sore gums. The Stacking Teething Rings each have a unique texture for baby to explore with her fingers and her mouth, and she can still get fun out of them through toddlerhood!
The UFO Silicone Pulling Toy is a sensory explorer's dream toy with all kinds of textures and things to push, pull, twist, and chew on. And don't worry, none of those pieces will come off without scissors or some other tool in more adept hands. Toddlers love playing with the UFO, too!
Other toys included in this beautiful and distinctive baby sensory toy set are our Fine Day Stacking Cups, which are a hit with babies and toddlers alike, our Silicone Phone Press Toy for riding in the car or sitting still, and a wooden bead Pacifier Clip that you can personalize at purchase.
All of these fun baby sensory toys come packaged in an elegantly designed gift box with a handle for carrying. Concerned about silicone? Don't be! Read all about it here: Pros and Cons of Silicone Baby Toys: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents.
2. Personalized Silicone Beach Toy Set
This 14-piece Personalized Silicone Beach Toy Set is as cute as it is engaging! Take little ones of all ages to the beach and build little cities, fruit baskets, and anything else that comes to mind with this plastic-free beach toy set.
Each silicone beach toy set comes with a sand bucket, hand shovel, hand rake, cotton mesh bag, five little building molds, and five little fruit molds. If you want to make this set even more unique, ask us to personalize it with a little one's name and add our chic gift-carrying case!
Like all of Moonkie's toys, these beach toys are made of high-quality food-grade silicone, which means they are non-toxic, durable, soft, and long-lasting. This set is an outstanding option for years of imaginative play!
3. Montessori-inspired Wooden Toy Set
We don't hide our admiration of Montessori toys at Moonkie. We just love that they are made of natural materials, designed for hands-on learning, and get little ones thinking and moving. Though we do not currently carry any Montessori-inspired wooden toy sets, they are well worth mentioning in a list of unique baby sensory toy sets!
Some of our favorite Montessori-inspired wooden toy sets that you can find in unique styles relatively easily are organized into the following table.
|Montessori-inspired Wooden Toy Set
|wooden rattle set
|wooden stacking ring set
|wooden bead maze set
|wooden shape sorters
|wooden ball and mallet set
|wooden block set
|wooden train and track set
|wooden tool set
The cool thing about wooden toys is that you can find them unpainted and unsealed, so you can paint them yourself! If you choose to do this, ensure you opt for a non-toxic paint that won't peel off very easily. Or, you can use beeswax (source)!
4. Quilted Sensory Play Mat Set
The most popular play mats on the market these days are loud and busy with a million things for a tiny person to do--no wonder they can be overwhelming! If shopping for a baby, consider finding a charming activity blanket made by a local quilter.
Hobby and small business quilters have a sharp eye for colors, patterns, and textures, so they are brilliant at creating beautifully crafted play mats that engage a baby's senses of touch and sight without being overwhelming.
A quilter will show you a range of patterns to choose from and have a neat idea of which fabric textures to use in the pattern you choose. They can even create some pocket blocks or blocks that stand up so that little hands can grasp, fold, or chew on them. Add a couple of small baby sensory toys to play with on the mat, and you'll have a cute gift set!
Moreover, buying from a local quilter will support a local artist, give a fun project to someone who sees less and less appreciation for their craft these days, and bless a baby with a fun, unique gift that will last for years with care.
5. Sensory Board Book Set
A love for reading is one of the most rewarding gifts an adult can give a child, but babies are just not that interested yet. You can get around this short attention span by gifting a set of sensory board books.
Sensory board books are sturdy baby books with patches of textured materials in printed pictures. For example, you can find a sensory book about animals. Each page will have an animal, reptile, or fish picture with a patch of fuzzy, furry, scaly, bumpy, sleek, or scratchy material for little hands to feel.
You can find several topics for sensory board books; these don't tear as easily as pop-up or pull-tab books. Save those for the pre-k year. Speaking of tearing, sensory books don't have to just be board books; they can also be quilted books! Etsy is a convenient place to find unique quilted baby sensory books that can also be washed in a washing machine.
6. Bath Toy Set
Yet another unique baby sensory toy set you can put together is a bath toy set. These are entertaining for parents because playing in the water is exciting for little ones! Though you could go for the generic bath toys at Walmart, you could be more creative by combining several different items that make water move interestingly.
For example, you can add a waterproof stacking cup set, a kitchen funnel, a scoop, and a silicone ball or two. Little things like this promote productive play during bathtime for babies and toddlers alike!
As a sidenote: don't get too many things because bath toys are definitely in the way outside of bathtime. Add a little waterproof basket that corrals those toys and allows them to drain to be extra parent-friendly.
7. Musical Toy Set
Okay, not all baby gift sets can be free of noise; kids love making noise! And who can blame them? They've got to experiment with sound to learn and develop their hearing skills. A set of musical toys with different sounds and textures will do just that!
Invest in musical toys with natural material bases, like wood or leather. Plastic is cheap, but it can be destroyed pretty quickly and create a choking hazard or sharp edges.
Some options here include:
- rain sticks
- egg shakers
Musical instruments help little ones learn to associate sounds with rhythm, motion, and materials. Furthermore, this exploration can help promote language development, problem-solving skills, cause-and-effect relationship identification, fine motor skills, and sensory exploration through feeling, seeing, and hearing.
8. Sensory Bin Set
Kids love to stick their hands in bins with many tiny things, like uncooked rice, dried beans, or sand, because these stimulate sight, touch, and hearing. Creating a sensory bin kit for parents to set up as a sensory activity is a unique baby sensory toy set that little ones will love!
Even better, if you are buying gifts for a sibling group, you can make a sensory bin set for each kid that they can either play with alone or share with siblings! The keys are choosing age-appropriate sensory activities and getting the proper bin for each type of activity.
Here is a chart of some sensory bin kit ideas:
|Sensory Bin Kit
|uncooked rice, uncooked pasta, uncooked oatmeal, dried corn, or dried bean bin
|scoops, cups, funnels, weighted balls, cotton pouch, chopsticks, spoons, toy bugs, plastic tweezers
|scoops, cups, weighted balls, chopsticks, spoons, cars, pastry scraper, sand molds
|flour, cornstarch, or cornmeal bin
|6x8" tray, scoops, cups, funnels, chopsticks, spoons, pastry scraper, cars, flour sifter, straw, egg carton
|scoops, cups, wide funnels, chopsticks, spoons, blocks, construction toys
|scoops, spoons, cars, spatula, popsicle sticks
|scoops, chopsticks, spoons, pastry scraper, plastic butter knife, forks, blocks
Of course, you can combine all kinds of things in sensory bins; you don't have to stick with the ideas above! This list ought to spark some ideas for you!
9. Sensory Ball Set
Sensory balls can be big, soft balls with different textured fabric hexagons on the surface or heavy, smooth silicone balls full of sand. There is such a range here that you can easily collect interesting ball toys made for babies and toddlers of various colors, textures, materials, weights, hardness, and flexibility for a gift set.
For example, you can find a beautifully painted wooden ball, a small, sand-filled silicone handball, a bouncy racketball, a hacky sack, a baseball, and a football for a baby already crawling around. The range of weights, materials, and textures will be just as entertaining as they are educational!
Want more to know more about Montessori toys and sensory toys? Check out our article Are Montessori and Sensory Toys the Same Thing?
Creative Ways to Make the Gift Set Fun to Unpack
Now for the creative part: wrapping the gift set in a fun way to unpack! Whether physically present to behold the entertainment or hearing of it later, taking the time to make opening a gift set creative is well worth the time and may become a quirky family tradition.
Here are a few ideas:
The first option is an oldie but a goodie: parcel packaging. You can take the smallest item, wrap it, put another item on the other wrapped item, and then cover that.
Keep going until all the gift set items are wrapped up as one multi-layered parcel. Make unwrapping a game of only tearing off a layer when the music stops!
Nesting Doll Packaging
Another amusing way to package a gift set is in a "nesting doll" style, but this will only work if you have containers. For example, you can put the smallest toys, scoops, and cups into a little box with a sensory bin set.
Then, set that box into a box full of sensory stuff (dried beans, rice, little Ziplock bags of flour, etc.). You can then place that box into the container, which you fill with larger tools and toys. Finally, you can wrap the whole thing up in a giant box.
The best thing about this option is that the little one will have plenty of boxes to color and play in for a couple of days.
Littles love ribbons! Luckily, you can find spools of lovely ribbons in the clearance bin nearly any time of year. Pick a few colors and textures and tie them to various items in the gift set. For toddlers, you can tie the other end to other items or to the basket or box to make getting the toys out a slight challenge.
Just ensure that little ones are not able to play with those ribbons alone! They are a choking and strangulation hazard for unsupervised kiddos.
Yet another fun way to give a gift set is by scattering the different items throughout the house and setting up a scavenger hunt with the whole family. This one definitely takes some planning beforehand, but it is a lot of fun for toddlers and young children!
Even teenagers get into this one, which makes it a fantastic option for sibling groups or large family Christmas gatherings.
In a Nutshell
A sensory gift set is a unique and thoughtful gift option. By choosing Montessori-inspired gift options, you are giving a toy that will aid a little one's cognitive and motor skill development for years to come. And by wrapping it creatively, you could make opening the gift set a unique game in itself!