Newborns and infants have specific needs for their playtime and learning, and our guide to the best baby toys can help you find the perfect gift!
The first few years of your newborn baby's life will be full of surprises, but there's something that won't be much of a surprise: that infants will start to acquire a taste for play. Once they do, toys can add a lot of enjoyment to your baby's life as they begin to learn more about how to interact with the world.
However, you can't just pick out any toy; you need to have the right ones for your baby's age. Baby toys will allow for a lot of interaction and development of skills, like practicing basic motor skills and further developing their senses like sight, sound, and touch. And while every baby will have their interests, picking out the right toys can help them both have fun and grow!
To ensure you have toys that are fun, safe, engaging, and even stimulating enough to help with development, we've built the complete guide to the best baby toys you can get for the child in your life!
Best Baby Toys for Newborns and Infants: Comparison Table
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
Babies love interacting with sounds and lights as a part of exploring the world around them, and this colorful toy brings both of those into one gadget. Fitting for the Baby Einstein brand name, the Take Along Tunes toy plays seven different classical songs from composers like Mozart and Chopin. At the press of a button, a song will play, and lights will flash in tune.
Aside from the proposed developmental benefits of listening to classical music, babies can start to learn about cause and effect as their actions start the music. The giraffe sidebar is both cute and comfortable for infants to get a grip on, and the compact size of this toy makes it suitable for traveling on the go, as does the volume control. It comes with the two AA batteries required for it to work, as well!
Our Top Picks of the Best Baby Toys
Teething is an unfortunate process of the first few years of life, and young children can have a hard time getting through the associated pains. Having a teether on hand is essential for getting through these challenging times, and Sophie the Giraffe toy is an excellent option. The entire toy's body is a soft rubber, making it easy for babies to bite and bend the neck and legs.
The toy also squeaks, which is sure to delight your kids as they play with it. Even the aesthetic design of the spots is beneficial, as babies can tell them apart from the rest of the body. You will have to be a little careful as you clean Sophie to keep water from getting in the hole that lets out air for the squeaking effect, but overall this giraffe is triumphant as a top-tier infant toy!
Activity mats are excellent toys for both newborns and older children. This activity mat has plenty of toys, including a mirror that will help develop visual senses, as well as many other options, all in bright colors. Because your baby will ultimately need tummy time to build their muscles, these types of mats provide both comfort and entertainment in one package.
This mat also includes arches that have hanging toys; you'll want to hold back on how many you hang up for a newborn, though, as they can become overstimulating for very young children. You can even wholly detach the arches if you like, plus the whole mat folds for storage when it's not in use.
Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball | Easy to Grasp Bumps Help Develop...
- Multiple textures & materials engage baby's developing tactile sensitivity & teach baby about variety
- Chunky sized bumps encourage reaching, grasping, and transferring from one hand to the other
- Gentle rattle sounds create neural connections in babies brains from birth through 3 years
Very young children are adjusting to the world and developing their senses in even the first few years of life, and sensory toys can be some of the best options for this time. This bumpy ball toy from Sassy Developmental has all sorts of fabrics with various textures, large bumps for babies to grab onto, and is even safe for chewing. When shaken, the whole ball rattles, which helps develop hearing as well.
Babies learning their motor skills will still be able to handle this toy, and they'll want to thanks to the attractive colors and patterns. The plastic on the different bumps makes them durable enough to serve as a teething toy as well. As your baby starts to grow, they'll also likely discover throwing, which helps teach other motor skills.
While the plastic nubs make for a durable teething material, they do prevent this toy from going in the washing machine, which can make it somewhat tricky to clean.
Skip Hop Silver Lining Cloud Rattle Moon Stroller Toy, Multi
- Skip Hop Zoo plush characters featuring a textured surface bandana teething toy
- A soft baby toy and teether filled with textures, patterns and sounds! Little hands stay active as baby explores...
- Bandana Buddies are the perfect infant toy for multi-sensory play, this cute companion is ideal for fun at home...
Any baby that heads out into the world is bound to spend a lot of time in a stroller before they can walk, and if you're lucky, your child will merely sleep during that time. However, that's not always the case, and keeping a kid entertained during that time can be a challenge, and a toy has a risk of getting tossed out of the stroller if it's unlucky. So what's the solution?
Hangable stroller toys answer both of these problems: one, they're entertainment; and two, they stay hooked to the top of a stroller, so you don't have to worry about losing it. This toy looks like a moon and has a rattle and neon colored rings with different textures. Fresh newborns will love the sight of it, while slightly older kids will have fun making noises and using the rings as a teether for more engaged play.
LAMAZE, Octotunes, Musical Octopus Stuffed Baby Toy to Support Early...
- MUSICAL OCTOPUS: Make merry music together with this classic toy designed for helping babies big or small learn through...
- SEE, TOUCH AND LEARN: Bright patterns and a big friendly smile help your little one's visual development; Interesting...
- DISCOVER A TUNE: Squeezing each tentacle plays a unique musical note, encouraging older babies to explore and learn to...
Lamaze's line of plush toys always has something exciting and developmental for babies, but we're going to call attention to this stuffed octopus offering. The smiling face of this toy is cute, and each tentacle has a different color pattern and design, making a near rainbow. Some limbs even have different textures to them, encouraging play.
But that's not all this toy can do: each tentacle plays a different musical tune, allowing for eight different songs in one toy. There's also a songbook that comes with the plush that you can read to your baby or they can enjoy once they learn to read. Overall, this toy will stimulate hearing, feeling, and visuals, and it's suitable for even newborns of zero months to use.
Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile for Cribs
- From Manhattan Toy's award winning Wimmer-Ferguson infant collection - the original innovator of black and white...
- Introduces baby to high contrast images and colors for early visual development; Surface wash only
- Ten interchangeable cards offer a range of simple to more complex colored patterns and graphics
Mobiles are another great type of toy for babies in the first few years of life, especially since they can help stimulate auditory and visual growth. This mobile happens to focus on the latter, as it has numerous cards to hang from the toy. While the papers aren't very colorful, the pure black and white designs are high contrast, which will attract little ones' attention.
We like how much you can adjust this toy to suit your baby's age. First off, the different cards come with age indicators, so you know when to trade them off to better stimulate your child's developing vision. Similarly, you can also change the position of the cord, both to give a better visual challenge and to keep it out of arms' reach once your baby starts to grab at the world around them.
Another fun floor and tummy toy we enjoy comes from Fisher Price. This playset has a design with both a mat and a headboard, which has a piano design with working buttons. If you put the keys in reach of your baby's feet, they can enjoy kicking the different options and having fun with the sounds that play, which include different classical music and children's songs.
While the piano is one of the main distinguishing features, the mat also has various animal-designed toys, such as a hippo shaped teether and an elephant clacker, to name a few. These toys hang from an arch, so your child can enjoy reaching for them and the different activities. With so many options available, this mat is perfect for both play and naptimes.
Even though we love all the different things this piano mat has to offer, the frame can come apart somewhat quickly, so you'll want to keep an eye on it.
Bath time can be an adventure in its own right when it comes to your baby, and how they handle it can vary from kid to kid. However, adding a bit of fun to the tub can make it easier, and this penguin toy is the perfect addition to the water. The cute design of a penguin with goggles is sure to delight, and it's a fun option for any child nine months or older.
Aside from floating in the water, you can wind this penguin pal up so that it can swim across the surface of the bathtub. Since you turn it through the flappers, even children can handle making it work, while letting them practice hand-eye coordination and motor skills. It's also inexpensive, allowing for hours of entertainment for a reasonable price.
WubbaNub Infant Pacifier - Giraffe
- WubbaNub Brand- The Original Pacifier/Plush Animal combination
- Durable one piece construction is both functional and stylish. Patented design makes it easy for baby to grasp.
- Distributed in hospitals, NICU and well-baby units nationwide.
For kids that will use them, pacifiers can be excellent for calming down a crying infant or giving them something soft to chew on as they like. Since they're relatively small, however, they can become lost far too quickly, but attaching one to a stuffed animal makes them much easier to keep track of while also giving some extra enjoyment and stimulation to your child.
This line of pacifier plushes from WubbaNub comes in various kinds, like giraffes and elephants, all made with soft materials. The pacifier itself is a soft rubber, which can stimulate chewing as well. Parents that have bought these toys for their children enjoy that they can quickly locate a pacifier in times when it's necessary. WubbaNub recommends this toy for infants between zero and six months old.
This toy brings two baby must-haves into one: a rattler and a teether! The colorful beads are enjoyable and fun for babies to look at, plus the finish on them helps protect the toy for the long run while also being non-toxic, so you don't need to worry about letting your baby chew on this toy whenever their teeth start to come through.
When your child shakes this toy, they'll enjoy the rattling sounds, which help with hearing development, as well as teaching how cause and effect works. We also like this teether/rattle because you can rearrange it into different patterns, which is sure to delight your baby and catch their interest, even before and after they need to worry about their teeth pushing through the gums.
Fisher-Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse, Pink
- A gentle hug from baby activates soft, glowing light and soothing sounds & music
- Plays for up to 5 minutes, plus volume control
- 8 different lullaby & classical tunes, plus ocean sounds
While there are plenty of sound-based toys out there for infants, this seahorse is ready to help your little one settle down to sleep. The plush toy is soft, and kids love to cuddle up with it. As they rest, the seahorse will glow and play either a classical song or soothing ocean sounds. Both of these effects fade after about five minutes, so they can help kids get to sleep and then let them rest.
If you find that the lights or the sounds or even both don't do much for helping your baby fall asleep, you can change the volume and brightness settings, and even turn them off if you need to, so they can still enjoy the toy. Cleaning is also convenient for busy parents, as you can take off the cloth cover of the toy and toss it in the washer without needing to worry about ruining the technology inside.
What to Think About When Purchasing Baby Toys
Most babies won't be picky when you hand them a toy. Once they start becoming more alert and aware of their surroundings, almost anything can turn into something for amusement. Even so, it's best for both their safety and their development to give infants age-appropriate toys that they can pick up and interact with as they hold it.
Our list of the best baby toys considers both age level and safety, but knowing how to identify good toys on your own is still excellent information for a caregiver to have. Here are some tips to ensure your child's safety and engagement.
Age appropriateness will be something to keep in mind as your child continues to grow, but what does that phrase mean for infants? Aside from safety (which we'll talk about later), the toys you give to your children should match up with their stage of development—and the first few years of childhood before the toddler years have no shortage of those.
For example, a newborn will spend most of their time (aside from sleeping, eating, and crying) adjusting to their senses. Mobiles can be an excellent choice for this time, since the lights, sounds, and movements will catch an infant's attention without them needing to interact with it. If you install a mobile, be sure to do so safely and keep it out of grasp once your baby starts to grab at things.
Between eight weeks and three months is when other developmental aspects start to kick in, and babies will practice their basic motor skills. They don't have a lot of muscle, so lighter and squishy toys are for the best. Rattles and other sound makers are fun, textures help develop a sense of touch, and anything that can also serve as a teething toy is extra functional.
When kids start to sit up, hand-eye coordination happens. Balls, blocks, and anything that pops up/has large buttons can help teach cause and effect. As children start to learn to stand, such walkers can give necessary balance.
All caregivers want their children to stay safe while playing. Common concerns are:
It can also be worthwhile to pay attention to hand-me-down toys, especially those that have been in storage for a long time. While they can have sentimental and family value, they can also potentially have harmful bacteria on them that could harm your infant's health.
Once a toy has passed all safety concerns, and it enters your home, it's also critical to regularly look for your child's playthings to ensure they haven't broken in harmful ways.
The early years of life have a lot of joyful moments in store for parents and newborns alike, and part of that joy comes from enjoying playtime with your child. To get the most out of these moments, it's important to think about safety and age-appropriateness—and we hope that our guide to the best baby toys has given you plenty of options!
Featured image via Pixabay