We are firm believers that no specific toy will make or break a child’s development. That being said, we definitely have some favorites that we love to incorporate into physical therapy activities. If you are looking for at home therapy ideas or good gifts, then you have come to the right place!
This tortle hat works wonders for babies who are developing a flat spot on the head due to torticollis or gross motor delay. The fin on the back of the hat helps rotate them off their flat spot to redirect pressure!
These elephant ears are a favorite addition to add to strollers for babies who have trouble with midline head due to torticollis or gross motor delay. The ears help them keep head in the middle, and look super cute too!
This is my all time favorite thing to pull out during tummy time! Babies love faces, and it is so encouraging to see their own cute faces during tummy time. This mirror is great for visual attention for the little ones because of the black and white colors included. They all love the rolling ball and crinkly leaves and wings too!
This pop up toy I love to incorporate for a lot of my little ones. Starting young I sometimes use it as an encouragement during tummy time for visual attention. Once the child is up and sitting it is a great encouragement to reach outside their base of support to close the animals back down and challenge that sitting balance.
My favorite way to use this toy is for my kiddos that are working towards standing away from a support surface. I usually have them cruise along the couch and then turn to reach the toy (trunk rotation time). Then we work on standing using the toy for support (while I hold it at their chest level). This way I can challenge their balance by standing at a more dynamic surface!
This tunnel is perfect for at home play, as it folds up nicely and is easy to pack away. I love to use this for little ones learning to crawl as an encouragement to stay up on hands and knees. The mesh top makes it easy to see the little one inside.
These snap-lock beads are great for babies to help develop grip strength and upper extremity strength. For babies who are independently sitting without arm support this is a fun activity to put them together and then have them try to pull apart. This is also a great bilateral coordination game. The pop also provides an excellent balance challenge!
This is such a fun toy for little ones to practice reaching and grasping with while on their backs. I love to put it on their feet when working on hands to feet skills on the back. I also use it to help with visual tracking when working with increasing neck range of motion due to torticollis. Also, when you pull on the rings it shakes, which is great fun and provides baby with sensory input.
My favorite thing about this set is the small bear prop pillow for baby’s chest. This is a great size for little ones who are struggling with tummy time to take away some of the challenge and provide extra lift. It is also nice for little ones who are working on pushing up with hands while on tummy.
An 18 inch exercise ball is a great tool to have at home for physical therapy practice. For little ones it is fun to practice tummy time on the ball, that way you can increase or decrease the challenge as needed by rolling the ball forward or backwards. For babies who are working on sitting balance you can practice sitting on the ball while supporting them at the hips, and by moving the ball can provide an excellent core/trunk control workout. This is also a must have for babies with torticollis as you can easily use the ball to weightshift in a variety of positions to provide a stretch.
This soft bolster is the perfect size for little ones who are working on increasing weight bearing through arms to get into a hands and knees position. They can practice with the bolster under their belly for extra support. For older babies it is fun to roll them into a more challenging wheelbarrow position over the bolster for extra upper extremity and core work.
This is my favorite toy for learning putting in and taking out. I love to use this with babies who are working on transitioning in/out of sitting and crawling. It is also great encouragement to pull to stand and cruise along a support surface.
Squigz have quickly become one of my most used toys during therapy sessions. They are easy to attach to a variety of surfaces for climbing, and make a fun popping sound. One of my favorite ways to use this toy is for my kiddos that are new standers and walkers.
For new standers I love to attach the squigz to a flat surface (wall, refrigerator, window, door) and have them try to pull them off. The pop of the pull off really challenges their balance reactions and is always a fun time!
For new walkers I love to attach them to the floor to encourage squatting from an independent stand position. This is a great way to increase their lower extremity and core strength!
This ball stack game is another favorite for my new standers and walkers. It is not only great for motor planning to stack it tall (with a little parent help of course), but once it is up it encourages standing in order to drop the ball in the top. Once the ball drops to the bottom they will work on that squat strength to bend down to get it. If they try to lean on the tower it will crash over, which is a huge motivation to try for that independent stand!
This is a bigger item for at home use, but will really grow with your child. Simple building block activities are great for motor planning skills, strength, and balance. For younger kiddos just squatting to pick up a block and stack them is great work. Then learning to balance one on top of another is great for controlling and grading movements!
As the child gets older they can be incorporated into kicking and throwing activities to challenge coordination. I also love to practice running while holding a block, because holding with both hands triggers trunk rotation. Since they are soft they are also fun to crash into or on top of for fun sensory input.
These balance pads are perfect to challenge toddlers balance when learning to step up and down off of a change in surface height. They can also be fun to stand on at a support surface to challenge balance reactions.
This rody toy can be so much fun while the little one works on balance, core strength, motor planning, and postural control. They get to practice motor planning while learning to get on/off of the Rody. Once on the toy bouncing and balancing to stay seated is great work! Also, if you create a safe space around the Rody is is fun for kids to practice crashing/falling off for sensory input and to work on protective reactions when falling.
This ride on toy can be great for new walkers to work on pushing in order to increase strength. Once they are older they can sit and push themselves forward, which is a great balance, strengthening, and motor planning activity. Always use with supervision!
A trampoline with a handle is great for little ones to challenge balance and work on pre-jumping and jumping skills. Always use with supervision.
For toddlers this tunnel is great to incorporate into an at home obstacle course for strengthening. Crawling and climbing is so important at all ages to help develop strong core and shoulder stability for a stable base with handwriting skills. To increase the challenge for older kids I recommend putting the tunnel over pillows or couch cushions on the floor for a bumpy surface.
An easel is a great toy to introduce once your toddler is up and exploring. Practicing with magnets, painting, and drawing at a vertical surface is great for strengthening shoulder, arms, and grip. This will give them a strong foundation for fine motor skills once they hit school age.
This non slip step is perfect to help toddlers work on stepping up and down on higher surfaces. You can start with practicing while holding both of the child’s hands, and work up to doing it all by themselves. Remember to practice leading with both legs for symmetry.
These yoga cards are great to incorporate into your child’s exercise routine for strength, motor planning, and range of motion. Talk with your physical therapist to see which cards would be best for your child to practice to work towards their PT goals.
This is another fun yoga game that incorporates a spinner to make the exercises more fun. Playing this game in a group as a family or with friends is so much fun!
This wedge I love for several reasons! I give this as a classroom tool for my kiddos who are really struggling with postural endurance and frequently fall into a rounded back/slouched posture. The slope of the wedge helps put kids into a more active sitting position by adjusting pelvic tilt. It easily fits into classroom chairs, or can be used on the floor.
I also love this product for my toe walkers. Standing on this wedge not only provides a stretch of calf muscles, but also gives great sensory feedback through the bottoms of the feet!
This is my favorite home product for my kiddos who w-sit. This gives them a target to sit on and challenges their postural and core muscles. It is also great for providing sensory feedback for little ones who have trouble sitting still during circle time or seated activities.
Another great use for this is to work on standing balance and lower extremity strength. Have the child practice standing on the disk with both feet first. You can then progress to squatting to pick up an object from the floor. This is hard work, and make sure you are in an open space safe for falls if they happen.
This zoom ball is great for upper extremity, back, and shoulder girdle strength. It also requires the use of bilateral coordination and challenges motor planning skills. So much fun!
This game is a classic! This is a great way to challenge your child’s strength, body awareness, and motor planning. Also great for learning right and left sides. Getting the whole family involved can be so much fun!
This is such a great game to challenge hand/eye coordination and bilateral upper extremity use. You can play it with the ball that comes with it or use a balloon for beginner kids so that they can track the slower movement of the balloon first and work up to the ball.
This is a nice 24 piece starter set which is great for building structures with. One of my favorite ways to use this set is with my kiddos with poor grip strength. I have them make a large structure or chain and then work those grip muscles by pulling and popping them all apart.
Another fun activity is to attach them underneath a table or chair. Have the child lay on their back underneath and reach up to pull the squigz off. This is great for shoulder girdle strength which is so important for handwriting skills!
This scooterboard is made for 2 kids, but the great thing about its longer length is that it is perfect for laying on belly and using arms to push forward. This helps build strength in arms, shoulder girdle, and core. They can also sit on it as pictured and use legs to scoot forward for lower extremity and core strength.