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Toys, toys everywhere — but which ones should you choose? Some have bright lights and music, others are colorful and super sensory, and the options go on (and on).
If you take a trip down the toy aisle at your local big box store, you may be totally and understandably overwhelmed. While many packages detail ages and stages, you may still wonder what’s truly best for the little ones in your life.
Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief. We’ve got you covered from toys that suit the youngest babies to ones that will grow with your child as they move and groove into their toddler years.
- Best for newborns: Jellycat Soother Security Blanket, Baby Einstein Flip for Art High Contrast Floor Activity, The First Years First Rattle
- Best baby toys for 0 to 3 months: Yookidoo Gymotion Robo Playland, Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby, Boppy Black and White Rainbow Tummy Time Pillow
- Best baby toys for 3 to 6 months: SmartNoggin NogginStik Light-Up Rattle, Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set, Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube
- Best for baby toys for 6 to 12 months: Vulli Sophie The Giraffe, Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Sensory Toy
- Best baby toys for new crawlers: Skip Hop Follow-Bee, Lovevery Organic Cotton Play Tunnel
- Best baby toys for new walkers: Melissa & Doug Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy, VTech Sit-To-Stand Learning Walker
- Best baby toys for on-the-go fun: Bright Starts Oball Classic, Lamaze Mortimer the Moose, Bright Starts Teethe & Read Play Book
- Best baby toys for bath time: Skip Hop Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets, Munchkin White Hot Ducky, Ubbi Interchangeable Bath Toys
- Classic baby toy favorites: Uncle Goose Classic ABC Blocks, Manhattan Toy Skwish Rattle and Teether, Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
Choosing the absolute “best” toys for babies is definitely a subjective topic. And new toys are hitting the market each and every day. Above all else, it’s important to pick things that are safe (avoid choking hazards), age appropriate (because babies change so much in the first year), and — of course — fun (they’re toys, after all!).
For this list, we consulted readers on Facebook, asked our staff for their top picks, examined bestselling items, considered guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and weighed overall value and customer reviews.
Keep in mind that the price ranges listed below are only estimates — exact prices can change depending on the time of year, sales, and other promotions.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$50
- $$$ = over $50
Newborns don’t really need toys. They’re too busy adjusting to the world around them and cuddling with parents and caregivers. With any objects at this age, it’s important to foster safe sleep habits, so remember: Along with placing baby on their back, there should be no stuffed animals or blankets in the crib during nap times or nights.
Jellycat Soother Security Blanket
Every baby needs a lovey — and, once you find the right one, maybe a backup just in case! These Jellycat cuties come in a variety of animal shapes, from bunnies to reindeer, complete with an attached, super soft 18- by 13-inch blanket.
This means they’re small enough to stash in a diaper bag when you’re traveling and your baby needs a reminder of home.
Baby Einstein Flip for Art High Contrast Floor Activity Mirror
You know your little one is the absolute cutest ever. Now you can let them see their adorableness, whether they’re on their bellies enjoying tummy time or you hold the mirror up to their face. You can also clip on the cards so your baby can view some interesting designs.
Bonus: This toy can grow with your little one until they are sitting up.
The First Years First Rattle
This rattle has plenty of soft knobs for baby to start grabbing on as they develop the ability to grip. You can also hold it in front of them for some visual interest. It has multiple textures, and certain parts make different sounds — including that oh-so-favorite baby crinkle sound.
And if your little one wants to mouth something soft, it’s a great toy for that.
Tummy time is of utmost importance with young babies up to 3 months. But laying on a plain blanket may be less than inspiring. Consider getting your baby a play gym to provide interesting things to look at.
You may also want to find some standalone visuals, like books or cards. Babies of this age respond well to bold, contrasting images — anything in black and white.
Yookidoo Gymotion Robo Playland
This colorful play gym by Yookidoo has plenty of black-and-white contrast to keep babies satisfied. It features a whopping 20 developmental activities, including things like a large mirror for gazing (many parents share that their babies love mirrors), rattles, a moving car for tracking, and adorable plush robot figures.
This gym grows with your child, with three playing modes: lay and play, tummy and play, and sit and play. The mat folds for easy storage or travel and can be used with or without music (requires batteries).
Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby
These beautiful black-and-white art cards by Wee Gallery come in a variety of animal prints and are suitable to share with your baby from birth. In fact, they were created with baby’s developing sight range — about 8 to 10 inches at this age — in mind.
Each of the six cards in a set is made from board book material, so they won’t rip when your baby starts exploring the world with their mouth. For added intrigue, one side is a white background with black image and the flip side is a black background with white image.
Boppy Black and White Rainbow Tummy Time Pillow
Tummy time is good for babies at any age, and this toy may help your little one stay face-down on the floor a little longer because it’s so engaging. They can rest on top of the pillow and be gently propped up while getting all the benefits of tummy time.
It looks like a nursing pillow, but it’s smaller — just for your baby. Plus, a crinkly-sound toy and a teething toy are attached to this machine-washable pillow.
Your little one may start rolling over, reaching and grabbing, and babbling sometime between 4 and 6 months. Toys for this age should support these milestones, as well as other developing motor skills, like improved hand-eye coordination and — a biggie! — being able to sit upright unassisted (which may happen around their 6-month birthday, just FYI).
Colors are also more important at this age. Experts share that by 5 months, your baby should have developed good color vision.
SmartNoggin NogginStik Light-Up Rattle
Safe to use from birth, this smart little rattle helps your baby hone their grasping and visual tracking skills with a light-up smiley face on one end and a mirror on the other.
The rest of the body is bumpy for tactile stimulation and contrasting black and white.
It was designed by a mom and early intervention specialist and comes with a booklet describing different ways to use it throughout your baby’s first year.
Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set
While this toy says it’s for ages 6 months and up, babies slightly younger are getting the hang of grasping things as well. (They grow fast, right?)
The cool thing about this ball set is that each one is a different color, shape, and texture. This excites your baby’s tactile senses and keeps them going back for more play. These BPA-free balls are great as your baby gets a bit older and starts chomping on everything during teething.
Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube
This musical cube is just the right play height (just under 6 inches) for babies who are learning to sit upright. It features instrument sounds of the harp, French horn, piano, flute, and violin in combination to make eight Mozart compositions.
The cube is bright colors, like yellow, green, and purple, and the side lights can also make the tempo faster.
Babies tend to get their first teeth sometime between 6 and 12 months, so chewable toys are definitely on the list at this stage. Otherwise, they’re hitting milestones like playing peekaboo, picking up objects with their thumb and pointer finger, and looking for hidden objects.
Oh, yeah. They’re also on the move, so get ready for it!
Vulli Sophie The Giraffe
Made from natural rubber, Sophie has been the gold standard of teething toys for more than 55 years. Her iconic shape, texture, and squeak lets little ones satisfy their urge to chew.
And no need to fret about this giraffe’s ears and hooves being all up in your child’s mouth: She’s BPA- and phthalates-free and is made using natural food paint (so, she may fade a bit over time).
Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Sensory Toy
A bestseller for babies 10 months and older, Dimpl is a sensory toy that lets your little one push and poke different colored silicone “bubbles” to their heart’s content. It’s the bubble wrap effect rolled into a stimulating baby toy.
The construction is BPA free and made from food-grade silicone.
This toy helps to engage your baby’s fine motor skills and provides an introduction to cause and effect.
Many 7- to 9-month-old babies can roll over in both directions. And as time goes on, they move on from sitting to crawling to standing to cruising (not necessarily in that order — all kids are different). Toys for crawling help your baby get used to this new skill and give them something to chase after.
Skip Hop Follow-Bee
This cute toy will keep your baby smiling and crawling all over the place. You can set it to pre-crawling, beginner crawler, and advanced crawler modes — each with different music, lights, and movement (like wobbling or circular pattern).
This toy even has a smart sensor to help it avoid obstacles. (Now, if only it would vacuum up all those Cheerios while it moves along the floor!)
Lovevery Organic Cotton Play Tunnel
There are lots of play tunnels you can find in many shapes and colors that will entertain your baby through the preschool years. This one by Lovevery is made from organic cotton and is just under 4-feet long, making it more suitable for younger kids (many are 6 or more feet).
Your crawler will love moving through the tunnel again and again. And crawling is still important for motor development even after your baby has started walking. Bonus: This tunnel collapses into a handy carrying case for travel or storage.
That’s right! Your little one may very well take their first steps before their first birthday. There’s a lot going on in the latter half of your baby’s first year, that’s for sure.
Keep in mind the AAP does not support the use of walkers for babies due to the risk of serious injury from such devices.
Melissa & Doug Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy
There are lots of push toys on the market. What sets this one apart is its uniquely basic entertainment features for your new walker.
Wooden alligators chomp as your baby pushes this cart along. There are also brightly colored fish on the wheels and butterfly and ladybug beads to keep your baby engaged.
While this toy doesn’t require batteries and doesn’t have any flashing parts, it makes an irresistible clacking sound when it’s moved forward and back.
VTech Sit-To-Stand Learning Walker
Keep in mind that the walkers nixed by the AAP are those old-fashioned ones where a baby sits in the middle and glides around the floor. This is not that kind of walker at all because your little one is not seated inside of it (and therefore trapped).
A sit-to-stand walker is a smart investment because it will grow with your baby. It encourages them to engage with something while sitting, and there are plenty of elements to create noise, view lights, and feel different textures. And when baby is ready to stand up, they can grip on and push it like a shopping cart.
Your baby’s desire to play doesn’t necessarily wane when you’re out and about. Try finding portable toys that stash easily into a diaper bag and clip onto car seats, strollers, or high chairs so they’re not constantly falling on the ground. (And if you’re worried about germs, you can get these handy all-purpose wipes to quick cleaning sans sink.)
Bright Starts Oball Classic
At 4 inches in diameter, you can easily stash this Oball into your diaper bag for on-the-go entertainment.
Its 32 holes are great for grasping, rolling, and bouncing. Consider clipping it to your child’s car seat or high chair with a strand of Bright Starts Links or Baby Buddy Toy Straps.
Lamaze Mortimer the Moose
Mortimer the Moose is a favorite the world over. He hooks onto whatever you need him to and has a ton of sensory features in a very small package.
His tummy squeaks, his antlers are soft for chewing and teething, and his knotted legs crinkle and jingle. He’s basically your baby’s best friend because you can take him anywhere you need to be.
Bright Starts Teethe & Read Play Book
We love the concept of creating baby bookworms early on, and this book does double duty. It gives your little one a soft, fabric book to gaze at and interact with. And when your baby starts getting fierce in the teething department, they can use the binding area as a teether, as well as the corners of some of the fabric pages.
Plus, when they start gripping, they can hang on to the handle and take it anywhere. Most importantly, it can easily clip on to a stroller or car seat, or be stashed in a bag for on-the-go amusement.
Water is a particularly fun sensory experience, so play often continues when it’s time for a bath. Toys for tub play can be super simple, like a plastic cup for scooping and pouring, or super basic, like a floating rubber duck. Save more complicated stuff for the toddler years.
Skip Hop Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets
This set of five small buckets features different colors and animal designs with handles for grasping. They can scoop water and then sprinkle it with different speeds (each has a unique set of holes in the bottom).
You can even stack them away for easy storage. The manufacturer recommends these buckets for babies 9 months old and up.
Munchkin White Hot Ducky
Rubber ducks may be the most classic bath toy there is. This yellow friend is small enough for babies to pick up and float around (or, you know, chew). It’s also affordable enough that you can even buy a few for ultimate bath playtime.
It also includes an added feature: a disk on the base of the duck that reveals the word “hot” in white if the water is too toasty.
Ubbi Interchangeable Bath Toys
Bath toys are always fun — until, that is, they start getting moldy from all the water. These mix-and-match bath toys open up so you can easily clean them. You can even toss them into the dishwasher to ensure they are clean.
Now on to the fun: Each half of the critter snaps together for interchangeable enjoyment. And they come in four colors, with cute faces to boot.
Speaking of classics, there are some toys that truly stand the test of time. Think streamlined toys that don’t have extra bells and whistles. The benefit of these longtime favorites is that they promote open-ended play that kids have loved for generations.
Uncle Goose Classic ABC Blocks
Large square wooden blocks are a hit in the baby world. They’re easy to handle, have letters on them for budding recognition, and can stack to build and support different stages development beyond the baby years.
Made of sustainable Michigan basswood, Uncle Goose blocks are particularly giftable because their alphabet print (with nontoxic paint) has a timeless heirloom quality.
Manhattan Toy Skwish Rattle and Teether
The Skwish has been a favorite toy for more than 30 years. It’s made for grasping, rattling, and teething. The elastic ties that hold it together allow baby to squish it down and have it return to its original shape.
The classic version of this toy has a nontoxic, water-based color finish featuring primary colors but also comes in natural wood and other finishes to match your home’s decor.
Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube
While this toy says it’s for ages 2 and up, babies may enjoy playing with a shape sorter with the help of older siblings and caregivers.
Placing the shapes into their corresponding holes speaks to the object permanence that babies start working on between ages 4 to 7 months and continue to develop over the first year.
The AAP encourages parents and caregivers to “go back to the basics” when it comes to toys for babies. Flashing screens and digital gadgets may seem like the coolest new thing, but they may not be good for your baby’s developing brain and body.
Here are some tips for choosing a toy:
- Try choosing toys that promote imagination and interaction. Added points if you can find toys that help your child work on things like fine motor or gross motor skills.
- Understand that one of the biggest dangers with toys is choking hazards. Things that are choking hazards for babies include coins, marbles, toys that can be compressed by a baby’s mouth, small balls, button batteries, beads, and balloons.
- No toys, particularly soft toys and blankets, should be placed in a sleep space with baby. The AAP says to keep soft objects and bedding out of baby’s crib until they are at least 1 year old.
- Check packaging or descriptions for age ranges on toys. Most will give you a general guideline for the ages it’s intended to suit. Beyond that, try using common sense. (That toy drone you put in your cart may be more for you than for your 5-month-old baby.)
- Remember that babies put pretty much everything in their mouths. Double check to make sure whatever you’re buying is made from natural materials whenever possible and is free from BPA and other questionable materials.
- Don’t be too concerned with toys marketed for educational purposes. The goal for babies isn’t to drill them with ABCs or facts. Instead, it’s to give opportunities for interaction and bonding.
- Include plenty of books. These will help with building imagination and thought.
- Keep an eye out for toys that may promote stereotypes. These may be related to gender or race.
Toys that appeal to babies, depending on age and ability, include:
- sensory toys (rattles, teething toys, mobiles)
- pop-up toys (with a surprise element, like a jack-in-the-box)
- pretend toys (play food)
- rolling vehicles
- dolls and stuffed animals
- board books
Do babies need toys?
Babies can see best when things are 8 to12 inches away. They don’t only see in black and white for the first few months, so don’t exclude colorful toys.
While newborns may be sleeping a lot, your baby will become more interactive within a few weeks. Toys can be a great way to engage them and let them feel different textures while hearing different sounds.
Keep in mind that baby isn’t really able to grip or control toys for a while, which is why toys should be relatively simple in nature.
What toys are good for a 1-year-old?
By the time baby reaches age 1, they are learning to walk or may already be walking. Toys that encourage them to stand — or those that can be put couch-level so they can “cruise” — are a good choice. And because your baby is likely able to sit up by now, you can get something that can sit on the floor with them.
When should I introduce toys to a newborn?
It’s never too soon to show your newborn a toy. They may be more interested in your company at first, but they’ll start to interact with toys more as they grow.
When can you put toys in a baby’s crib?
It’s best to keep toys out of your baby’s crib until you know that they absolutely cannot suffocate or get injured by them and the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has decreased. This generally started decreasing around 6 months.
The AAP notes that hanging crib toys should be out of the baby’s reach and removed when the baby starts pushing up on hands and knees, around 5 months.
While there are many toys on this list, rest assured that your baby doesn’t need every gadget and gizmo to be happy and healthy.
Toys can certainly aid in development and make life fun, but resist getting lured by flashy features or marketing promises (for example, your baby likely won’t be recognizing letters or numbers in the first year). Sometimes the simplest toys are the best choices and the most loved by children.
Beyond that, toys are built for bonding. So, get down on the ground and start playing with your baby!