Do you have a child who chews through their shirts or hats? Or a child who loves putting everything in their mouth? Although chewing sugar free gum may be a good option for older children, it may not be a viable option when they are at school.
Oral Motor Seeker
Your child might be an oral seeker, meaning they need additional sensory input in their mouths. Instead of chewing on non food items, having a chew toy can help your child meet their sensory needs in a more consistent and hygenic manner.
Although chew toys are often thought to be for oral motor seekers, children with oral hypersensitivity may also benefit from a sensory chew. A sensory chew can help these children become less sensitive to having things in their mouths.
Children who are hypersensitive have sensory issues and may be picky eaters. Reducing their oral motor sensitivity can encourage oral stimulation and gradually increase exploration of different textures.
Who are chew toys suitable for?
Chew toys can be suitable for children with or without a diagnosis. Occupational Therapists often work with children who are oral sensory seekers, oral defensiveness, anxiety, Sensory Processing difficulties, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. And chew toys have been used with all these conditions.
Most chew toys are not suitable for those younger than 3 years old. Regardless of age, it is important for adults to monitor the use of chew toys throughout the day.
How do I know which is best chew toy for my child?
There are so many to choose from! The best chew toy for your child depends on many factors including:
- their age,
- how much sensory oral input their need,
- if they are a sensory seeker or have sensory hypersensitivity, and
- if they easily misplace belongings.
Sensory Seekers v Sensory Sensitivity
For seekers, they need additional stimulation, therefore textured chewing surfaces, reach their back teeth, and harder toughness may be more suitable. In contrast, children who have sensory hypersensitivity may prefer a smoother surface and only need a sensory chew for their front teeth.
There are different strengths of chewy available. For most children, they might only need soft or medium. However, if your child is constantly chewing through their clothes, then they might need higher strength chewy.
Chewable jewelry options are great for those who lose things easily. Whether you want a bracelet, bangle or necklace, all these options are available. This option can also be more discreet for children who are aware of other people’s thoughts. Most necklaces have a breakaway clasp.
Wearable chewy may be great options for a young child who may pick up non food items or other people’s belongings. Having a constant sensory chew on them can encourage them to chew on their own sensory chew.
Pencil Chew Toppers
Pencil chew toppers are great for older children who want to be subtle in needing a sensory chew. Children who experience anxiety or require additional oral stimulation to focus can benefit from a pencil topper.
Consider your child
Apart from taking your child’s sensory needs into consideration, it is also important to think about their interests, favorite color, and how much they consider other people’s thoughts. Many of the sensory chew toys below are available in a variety of colors. There are also different shapes available. So consider your child’s interest and color when choosing the best one for them. You might even want to ask them which one they want.
Below is a round-up of the best chew tools for kids on the market right now. These are not ranked in order, but simply a list of the best options out there. It is important for you to consider your child’s needs and select the best product for them.
- Reaches to back molars
- Textured for additional sensory input
- Can be confused with real Lego bricks
- Only one size is available
ARK’s Brick Stick can be used as a necklace or handheld. The 6cm long pendant allows it to reach the child’s back teeth, especially for those who have sensory processing disorder and seek additional deep pressure proprioceptive input.
Created by ARK in the USA, the Brick Stick is available in 3 different toughness levels, depending on your child’s needs. Medical grade level TPE with FDA compliance. The medical grade TPE is similar to silicon but more durable. The sensory chew is still non-toxic and BPA, PVC, latex, lead, cadmium and phthalate free.
Younger children may confuse this chew tool with real Lego pieces. This is unsafe for children who cannot tell the difference. However, if your kids love Lego, then this may be a great option.
- Two different shapes for different needs
- Specifically designed for young children
- Not available in the textured surface
- Available in these two letters
Created to support the development of biting and chewing skills, the P and Q provide different opportunities for toddlers and young children to explore through biting and tongue exploration.
The P shape reaches back to the molar area for additional proprioceptive input. The Q shape helps develop jaw closure and tongue exploration.
The P and Q shaped sensory chew toys are solid and therefore provide a firm chewing surface for children.
Used by young infants, the P and Q are lead free and latex free, and does not contain PVC or Phthalates.
- Provides three different textures
- Available in different toughness
- Handheld so can be easily misplaced
- Short extensions can be more difficult to reach back molars
The Y Chews created by ARK provides three different chewy textures along the three chewy tubes or extensions of the Y shape. Suitable for children who are oral seekers, the Y Chew can be used to provide sensory stimulation and provide valuable sensory input orally.
The chewy tube can help those who need to practice biting and chewing skills without the risk of choking.
- Available in bracelet and necklace form
- Easy to take on and off, even for children with poor fine motor skills
- Does not provide a high toughness
- Overtime can be stretched
These chewlery bracelet and necklace blends in as jewelry and are not an obvious sensory chew option. Suitable for children who do not require a lot of oral input and may enjoy a softer toy throughout the day. The chewy jewelry can help relieve anxiety and provide added sensory stimulation throughout the day.
This sensory chew is non-toxic, latex free, lead free and does not contain harmful phthalates.
- Pencil toppers are more discreet sensory chews
- Different textures on both sides of the pencil toppers
- Not suitable for those who require additional sensory input
A safe alternative for those who often chew on their pencils. Suitable to be used a most pencils, the chewable pencil toppers are a discreet chewy for those who require some calming strategy while they focus while doing schoolwork.
Many parents may be more open to use chewy pencil toppers as it is a safer options for sensory seeking children, but also provide the child an option to self regulate in the classroom.
Created by Jellystone Designs, you know that it is made by 100% non-toxic, food grade silicone with no Phthalates, cadmium and lead.
- Provides additional vibration sensation
- Can buy alternative tube tips
- Handheld which can be easily dropped and misplaced
Not only is the ARK’s Z-Grabber a chew toy, it also provides vibration sensation. This is a good self regulation tool for children who require additional sensory oral input where chewing only may not be sufficient oral motor input for them.
Children who need additional stimulation may benefit from the Z-Grabber. Easy to grab loop allows children to easily grab onto the Z-Grabber.
You can purchase alternative tube tips, whether your child prefers smooth or textured tips. The length of the tube tips with the Z-Grabber allows your child to reach to their back teeth.
However, as it is a handheld chewy, it can be easily misplaced and replacement of this chewy is more expensive compared to its alternatives.
- Glow in the dark
- Only available in one strength
- One size available
Suitable for moderate chewers, this glow in the dark bangle makes chewlery stylish. Many children will love this chewy on this fact alone. One important factor in choosing sensory chew toys for your child is that your child will use them, so it is important to find one that they will use and wear.
The tread on the bangle provides a textured chewable surface. The wearable jewelry means it may not be as easily misplaced.
However, as it is only available in one size, it may not be suitable for all wrist sizes and therefore it is important to ensure it is just the right size for your child.
Made using non-toxic, food safe, medical grade silicone, Chewigems are also BPA, PVC, lead, latex and Phthalate free.
- Provides 4 different textures
- Canb also be used as a fidget
- Handheld chewy which means it can easily be dropped and lost by the child
The Tetra Bite allow 4 different types of textures for children to choose from! You have circular bumps, zigzag bumps, ribs and lines chewable surfaces. This is suitable for heavy chewers who enjoy a range of textures.
You even have the middle ring section that you can put your finger in and spin it around like a fidget! Available in 3 toughness levels, there is surely one suitable for your child!
- Absorbent cloth to soak up drool
- Can look like a bib
Unlike plastic chew toy necklaces, the bite bands use super absorbent cloth to help soak up drool. These are suitable for moderate chewers and those who drool. It is a great alternative for those who enjoy chewing on their clothing.
It can be used for children with autism and other special needs children who might have low muscle tone in their mouths and therefore are more prone to drooling. The highly absorbent cloth can help wipe up the drool in a easy manner.
- Smooth textured chewable surface
- Available in one size
The ARK chew tags are 2.5cm wide, 5cm tall and 0.7 cm thick and available in a range of colors. This means children can wear it as a necklace, with an adjustable breakaway clasp. The thinness and smooth texture makes it suitable for those who prefer chewing with their front teeth and prefer a smoother texture. Children who are orally sensitive may prefer the smoother option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are sensory chew toys safe?
There are various sensory chew toys available on the internet. However, not all are made to the same level of quality. In this article, we have highlighted sensory chew toys we recommend. When choosing it is important to consider the material the chewy is made from. As your child is putting these toys in their mouth, it is important that they are medical grade level safe and does not have any additional industrial chemical in there.
How do I wash my child’s sensory chew toy?
Most sensory chew toys can be washed with warm soapy water. If you aren’t sure, check the manufacturer’s website for additional information regarding washing.
Consider having a cleaning schedule for your child’s sensory chew toys to make sure it is still safe and hygienic for your child to use.
Should I use a sensory chew toy for my child with sensory processing disorder (SPD)?
Each child with SPD requires a different level of sensory input to meet their needs. This is the same for children with autism. If your child requires additional oral sensory stimulation, then they may benefit from a chewy. Similarly, if they are hypersensitive to oral input, then slowly introducing them to a sensory chew toy can help them desensitize.
If your child needs added sensory input, it is better to use a personalized sensory chew toy rather than them chewing on other objects.