Take it from a team of professional toy experts, there’s no greater cure for stress than playing with toys. When we hit the North American International Toy Fair, we were so consumed by play, that it was easy to forget we were at work. From sensory toys to fidget toys, activities, and everything in between, we took note of the best toys for kids (and adults!) to break out when they are high key stressed:

Worry Plaque (The Irish Fairy Door Co.)

No matter how badly a parent may wish they can take away their child’s worries, it’s not always the case. Fairies, however, know how to get the job done… or, at least in a child’s mind they do. Kids think of their worry, place their hands on the plaque, and then watch as it turns red. Once the fairies have heard the message, the plaque glows green to show that the worry has transferred to the fairies. Better yet, the energy of a worry is used to create wish-granting dust. Kids get to walk away stress-free and hopeful.

Wacky Links (Wacky Links)

Wacky Links’ lightweight and sleek packaging makes it a perfect throw-it-in-your-bag toy to take to school or work. Wacky Links are fun connectors that attach to soft, flexible tubes to make bracelets, armbands, headbands, and more. When kids need to cool down, they can let their silly side out with all kinds of unique creations. The line is available in different series, including Original, Ocean, Safari, Rock ‘n Roll, and Princess themes.

Insta-Snow (Be Amazing Toys)

I’ll be honest, walking the aisles at Toy Fair, the last place I expected to find a stress-relieving toy was at a science booth. Yet, low and behold, Be Amazing Toys proved me wrong. Unlike other snow-making kits, Insta-Snow doesn’t require tons of different ingredients to get the end result. All kids have to do is add water and watch as the compound transforms before their eyes. Not only is the process mesmerizing to watch, but in seconds it leaves you with a soft-to-touch mixture that you’ll want to fidget with all day.

BIG Bunny (Alilo)

Anyone who is familiar with Alilo knows about their adorable line of bunny products designed for infants and kids. The BIG Bunny comes with several different features, including an LCD screen, story mode, and music. Additionally, what may be easy to overlook but in my books is a steal, is the white noise option and the LED ears. For nights when kids are restless thinking of the monsters under their bed, parents can hit play on the calming white noise sounds, and let the bunny’s ears and face give off a warm and visually soothing glow.

Playmais (Playing Unlimited)

Playmais is a line of Styrofoam-like pieces that kids stick together with a dab of water on sponge to make for hours of play. The pieces are fun to touch and easy to make all kind of creations. Playmais is available in tubs, as well as themed sets. The new collections includes kits designed specifically for kids and adults in fashion and animal themes, 2-D and 3-D mosaics, and giant wall landscapes. It’s the perfect segue to open-ended play and distracts from whatever worries may be eating away at someone.

Linkt (Neat-Oh!)

Inspired by chainmaille, linkt is a new DIY accessory line from Neat-Oh!. The craft kits are designed for boys and girls, and includes styles such as Maille Bonding, Bonding Bracelets, Hoops and Loops, and more. Unlike most DIY jobs, the sets include everything kids need with step-by-step instructions. The repetition of the motions will help to wind down after a long and busy day. Best yet, once the craft is completed, kids can wear and display their creations.

Mad Matter (Relevant Play)

Mad Matter is a new doughy substance that never dries out. Kids can enjoy the sensation when they touch the matter in its original form, but then use the different molds to convert it into shapes and bricks. Best yet, the molds are compatible to most plastic bricks, so kids can use their own hand-made creations to add to their plastic build-ups. It’s a great way to combine the sensation of a touch-toy with the activity of a construction toy.

Rubber Fruit Set (Rubbabu)

The 100-percent natural rubber sets from Rubbabu are appealing to touch. Additionally, the sets make for a perfect stress ball, but appear realistic so that they can easily be camouflaged as décor. The rubber toys will be available this spring and can be purchased in a set of three or six.

About the author

Stephanie Grassullo

Stephanie Grassullo

Stephanie Grassullo is an associate editor at Adventure Publishing Group. In addition to handling toy and licensing news and updates for The Toy Book and The Licensing Book, Stephanie also writes toy reviews and commentaries for the Toy Insider. When she’s not binge-watching old episodes of Gossip Girl, Stephanie is always game for Boggle tournaments—she’s the titleholder Boggle champion in her family, and proud of it! Stephanie firmly believes that there is no awkward moment that can’t be remedied with the help of Bop It. To get to know her better, follow her on Twitter @steph_grass.