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Best fidget toys 2022: Soothe anxiety and restlessness with our favourite playthings

Matt Reed
11 Jan 2022
Best fidget toys
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Fiddle, pop and spin these sensory tools to help restlessness by keeping your hands busy in work, school and beyond

Fidgeting is something we all do, to varying degrees, but what if we could channel that energy through fidget toys? The best fidget toys are known to help calm and relax the most restless, nervous or anxious individuals by engaging both body and mind. And with more people now working from home, leg shaking, head-scratching and phone-checking have become more prevalent across the board.

Fortunately, fidget toys offer a cheerful – and mostly cheap – way to soothe all kinds of fidgeting behaviour. From discreet playthings for your keychain to the boldest of toys, there’s a range of unique fidgeting devices, beyond the notorious fidget spinner, to suit your fiddling style.

To make things simple, we’ve made a guide on how fidget toys can aid concentration and soothe your emotions, while also picking out our favourite fidget toys.

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How to choose the best fidget toy for you

Who are fidget toys for?

Fidget toys are for everyone. We all get stressed now and then, and fidget toys are proven to help us out when we do.

When stressed, our bodies release hormones such as adrenaline or cortisol, which provide an immediate burst of energy. It’s believed this stems from the “fight or flight” response required of early humans who were more regularly in danger of dying. Today, most of our stress is psychological rather than physical – perhaps from work or school tasks or our social interactions – meaning this energy isn’t used up and simply stews within, causing a tightening of the body.

Fortunately, fidget toys can provide an outlet for this spare energy and have been doing so for a few decades. The humble stress ball has been known to the masses since the 1980s and acts as a tactile stress release for those temporary bouts of anxiety at any age. More recently, fidget toys have also been known to provide great sensory stimulation, especially for younger children or those with sensory conditions, with putty often being used by therapists. Similarly, they can help develop fine motor skills, concentration and general tactile awareness through play.

As the toys are often a fun form of energy release, the stimulation can be a little overwhelming or distracting for some kids, so moderation is the operative word when it comes to using fidget toys.

These twiddly playthings aren’t just for children, though, as more and more adults have taken to fidget toys in efforts to calm restless behaviour or manage stress levels in a discreet way. In particular, there’s a social benefit since fidgeters are often assumed by others to be nervous, immature or not paying attention, even if none of those things is true. So, discreetly squeezing a toy in your pocket may help make a better impression in your next job interview.

In fact, simply having a fidget toy on your desk, tied to your keys or back at home can provide a brief respite on a hectic or stressful day for just about anyone and for any reason.

Do fidget toys help people with autism or ADHD?

Everybody has self-stimulatory behaviours, often called “stimming”, such as nail-biting or leg swinging. Stimming isn’t a bad thing needing to be stopped; however, it can interfere with an individual’s quality of life or their learning in school and be disruptive to others.

For people with autism, these self-stimulating behaviours can be more full-bodied and regular. Similarly, a trait in people with ADHD is hyperactive movements. As such, channelling an increased amount of energy or self-stimulating movements through fidget toys can be beneficial on a case-by-case basis.

Nonetheless, it’s important to stress that there is no definitive answer on the utility of fidget toys for people with autism or ADHD. It may be best to try a range of toys, given the generally low cost and the endless list of available toys, and see which works best for you or your child in different settings.

What type of fidget toy should I buy?

Choosing the right fidget toy depends on your motivations and your fidgeting environment. Everyone has a different fidgeting impulse. Foot-tappers may want something to occupy their feet. Nail-biters may want something for their hands. Those that want or need their senses stimulated may want a more tactile toy.

Meanwhile, for office workers or school students, a more subtle and portable toy may work best to avoid distracting others. At home, larger toys – which tend to have more features – could be a better option.

Read on to find the best fidget toy to suit your needs.

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Best fidget toys to buy 2022

1. Fidget pop bubble: The best fidget toy for home

Price: £13 | Buy now from Amazon

The Pop It Fidget is the latest craze and has an undeniable appeal. It works on the same sensations that are elicited when popping bubble wrap, but is housed in a silicone mould with 225 bubbles to pop. With a sound released upon each bubble being clicked into place, the experience is very tactile and satisfying. Once one side is complete, simply turn over to continue all over again – but with so many bubbles, it might take a while.

Besides being environmentally sound, the Pop It Fidget is easy to clean in a dishwasher, making it ideal for any young or mess-prone users.

Key specs – Material: Silicone; Weight: 10g; Size: 30 x 30 x 1.5cm; Noise: Yes

2. Feel Flux Original Copper: The best fidget toy for adults

Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon

The Feel Flux is a toy that can impress any onlooker. Just drop the ball through the tube and watch it defy gravity. The magnetic field of the falling ball interacts with the metallic tubes to cause a slowing effect called Lenz’s law. Scientific explanations aside, this creates a smooth, satisfying drop of the ball ready to be caught at the other end.

Even though the tubes are beautifully made with aluminium or copper adorned in leather, and the ball contains magnets capable of carrying up to 15kg, the Feel Flux is a little on the expensive side for a fidget toy. But if you see yourself fidgeting for the long term, want to avoid the brash colours of most fidget toys and even impress friends and family with your magic abilities, the Feel Flux is a great buy that’s built to last.

Key specs – Material: Aluminium/neodymium; Weight: 365g; Size: 6 x 6 x 6cm; Noise: Yes

3. RosewineC Chewable Pen Toppers: The best chewable fidget toy

Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

For younger fidgeters or those with a penchant for chewing, these pencil caps might do the trick. At just under £6 for a pack of six (in six different colours), the silicone toppers can provide enjoyable oral stimulation for those with sensory conditions, as well as being useful for younger children with teething pain. On one side there are large studs and on the other there are small bumps to give the full, textural experience.

The silicone material is easy to clean for continual re-use. Crucially, it’s non-toxic and without any dangerous additives so you can be sure that the pen toppers are safe to chew to your heart's content.

Key specs – Material: Silicone; Weight: 95g; Size: 7.1 x 2 x 1.3cm; Noise: No

4. Squeeze-a-Bean: The best budget fidget toy

Price: £2 | Buy now from Amazon

Something for the on-the-go fidgeter are the Squeeze-a-Bean pouches by ZhengYue. These three peas in a pod pop out of their cover when pinched and provide a discreet, quiet way to fidget on the go.

Made from PVC material, it will stay stuck between your fingers and not fly off anywhere. In fact, each bean is attached to its respective pod to make sure nothing comes loose when squeezed, and the beans simply pop back in when released. It also comes with a chain attached to one end of the pouch so it can be secured to any wallet, handbag or backpack when out and about.

Coming in a pack of three, the Squeeze-a-Bean pouches are a cost-effective and portable option for all.

Key specs – Material: PVC; Weight: 10g; Size: 6 x 4 x 3cm; Noise: Minimal

5. Latex Bands: The best fidget toy for your feet

Price: £15 (for 5) | Buy now from Amazon

You may have thought resistance bands were just for exercise and stretching, but they also work amazingly for any desk-based foot fidgeter. Often when we’ve been sitting for a long time, our bodies have spare amounts of energy it wants to use up. This is especially true of kids, and with these bands coming in a pack of five, it may be the perfect set-up to help provide classroom focus for those children with wandering minds – and legs.

Bearing tension of up 7kg, the latex bands can be strapped around chairs or table legs to give a springy, silent conduit for any fidgeting needs while working on the desk above. Super light, portable and cheap, these bands are great options for those new to the possibilities of fidget toys. And if you don’t like them you can always use the bands for exercise!

Key specs – Material: Latex; Weight: 80g; Size: 26.6 x 23cm x 1.2cm; Noise: Minimal

6. Mini Zen Sand Garden Kit by Artcome: The best fidget for the office

Price: £37 | Buy now from Amazon

There is something about running your fingers through sand that is instantly relaxing. Coming in a 7.5in wide and 11in tall bamboo tray, the Mini Zen Sand Garden Kit can supply the soothing, physical sensations of touching sand from the comfort of your office chair. By drawing in the sand, you can wash away any lingering anxieties or simply provide something to fiddle with while in creative flow.

The great benefit of the sand garden is it looks the part. With a bright, wooden base to house all the sand and accessories, the square or circle sand garden can act as a decorative ornament just as much as a tool for fidgeting, mindfulness, and relaxation. It even comes with a bamboo fence for one corner if you wish to rake in privacy.

Key specs Material: Wood/Plastic; Weight: 1.09kg; Size: 31.8 x 20.8 x 5.2cm; Noise: Minimal

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