Best Toys for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Child Development, Featured, Tips for Parents

Young boy playing with child-size guitar

When you’re raising a child with cerebral palsy, the toys they play with need to promote the development of fine and gross motor skills, communication skills and intellectual growth—which means they should be carefully chosen to accommodate your child’s unique abilities. But they should also be a safe and fun way to help your child build new skills. Keep reading for some of our favorite toys for children with cerebral palsy.

Kinetic Sand

Remember the fun of sculpting masterpieces with Play-Doh as a kid? Or the satisfaction of scooping and releasing fistfuls of sand in the sandbox? Kinetic sand yields both of those small joys in one product. Plus, it’s great for children with cerebral palsy because it encourages creative thinking while also helping to develop fine motor skills and hand strength. In fact, it’s routinely used in schools and in therapy as a way to help kids focus, relax and improve sensory stimulation. And even though it’s easy to mold, like wet sand, it’s completely dry and not sticky—something parents can definitely appreciate.

Sit ’n Spin

This classic toy is ideal for children with cerebral palsy because it’s a fun and easy way to build sitting balance. Keeping themselves upright and spinning requires engaging the muscles to grip the wheel. This also stimulates their vestibular system, which helps develop not just balance but spatial awareness, too.

Musical Toys and Instruments

There’s nothing like the gift of music to help kids tap into their creative side, express emotions, and engage both physical and mental stimulation. Researchers say that for children with cerebral palsy, learning to play a musical instrument helps trigger the neuroplasticity—the brain’s ability to adapt—necessary for the development of sensorimotor skills.

For older kids, child-size versions of instruments such as keyboards or ukuleles are a perfect start. For younger ones, or those with more limited movement, keep it easy with hand drums, maracas or tambourines. They can practice grabbing, shaking and tapping movements to create different sounds.

Kitchen Playsets

Playing make-believe is a hallmark of childhood games, but the practice of real-world tasks during playtime is what proves most beneficial for children with CP. Pretending to cook or bake helps bolster confidence, coordination, and motor skills—and best of all, it’s fun. Soft play food is a must and can still work well without a full play-kitchen setup.

Fold & Go Trampoline

What could be a better outlet for a kid’s boundless energy than a trampoline? A normal trampoline isn’t designed for children with cerebral palsy. But a Fold & Go trampoline is a smaller version that’s equipped with a graspable balance bar, which makes it safe for many kids with CP. Not only will it help promote balance, but it will also strengthen the legs and help kids become accustomed to bearing their weight.

Stacking and Building Blocks with Large Pieces

Building blocks and toys like LEGO are important for building coordination and motor skills, as well as stimulating the imagination. But children with cerebral palsy may have involuntary movements or may not have the coordination and dexterity to work with such small pieces. Try game and puzzle sets with larger pieces, such as LEGO Duplo Basic Bricks or other large building blocks. You can encourage your child to build and stack basic patterns, or just let them build free-form shapes on their own, which helps spark imagination and develop spatial recognition skills.

Raising a child with cerebral palsy often requires extra consideration and thoughtful planning, but there are resources to help you. For additional information and support, please visit our Cerebral Palsy Resource Directory. There you’ll find hundreds of local and nationwide organizations that can help you support your child’s education and development. Or, for legal help, you can contact the lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs directly for more information.

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