Contrary to popular believe, it was revered child psychologist Jean Piaget, not Mr. Rogers, who said that play was the work of childhood. And that play can start with babies, as their little brains begin to develop at warp speeds. Here are the best baby toys we’ve found to help them play, learn and grow.
Though it may seem that babies don’t necessarily *do* much in the beginning but eat, sleep and poop, it’s not long before they’re actually reaching and grasping and wanting to play. And that’s a good thing, as that’s how their brains develop. They are naturally curious and their little brains are creating neural connections like it’s their job.
For babies, every new shape, color and taste or texture is a new way they learn and grow and integrate their primitive reflexes. Their sensory systems grow too, and the baby toys we give them need to be stimulating but safe. They need to be ones that help them discover senses in safe and non-toxic ways.
Some baby favorites are always rattles or toys that make some sort of noise. And, as they develop their sight, toys with contrasting colors are mesmerizing.You can start with toys that stimulate the senses, and then move on to those that help your little one develop hand-eye coordination. The older your baby gets, the more interactive the toys can become, and the more you can introduce toys that improve problem-solving skills too.
What are some things to think about as you search for the right toys for your baby? And what are some of the top options to consider buying when you want to give your child a range of toys that he or she is sure to love? Check out our tips below, along with our list of five recommendations that can help you get started.
Things to Consider When Shopping for Baby Toys
Shopping for toys for your baby might seem simple, but there are certain things to consider before deciding to put a toy in your cart. Not all toys are created equal, and some might even be hazardous to babies. That’s why taking your time, and really considering the quality of a toy, is wise.
When you’re looking for the best toys for your little one, keep the following in mind:
- Take a close look at a toy to determine its quality. Does it look like it was made with higher quality parts that won’t come apart and pose a risk to your baby? For example, a stuffed toy should be stitched together well, and plastic toys should be durable so they won’t break easily. You can rarely go wrong with sustainable wood that’s colored with organic, water-based dyes.
- Babies like to put things in their mouth, which is a choking hazard, so it’s best to purchase toys that have parts that are too large for your little one’s mouth.
- Read the label to look for any safety warnings, and to be sure the toy isn’t made with any toxic materials (look for a statement that the product is non-toxic). If you’re at all concerned about your child’s well-being while playing with that toy, keep looking for one that will be safer for your baby. Again, stick with clean companies you can trust.
The Best Types of Toys for Babies
Throughout your baby’s first year, there are a variety of toys, from blocks and stackers to mobiles and portable toys that make sounds, that you can use to promote healthy development and learning.
With so many different toys to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones are worth adding to your baby’s collection. To help you in this area, here are a couple of tips on what to look for in a toy:
- You may think that a toy has to be full of lights and sounds and noises to be engaging, but that’s false. Will they be engaging? SURE. But so will Montessori based toys that are often wooden and exploratory. Don’t fall for the lie that it has to be flashy to keep your child’s attention. When your baby has basic toys to explore? Their sensory systems thrive.
- As your baby grows, look for toys that offer a bit of a challenge. This can help them learn how to solve problems, and it can stimulate their minds and their creativity and imagination.
- Many toys are designed to grow with your baby, which is great because they can help you save money. Basically, the same toy can be used in different ways to keep challenging your little one as he or she develops new skills. That’s one more reason we love Montessori-type toys.
How Many Toys Does Your Baby Need?
The number of toys that you want to get for your baby is really up to you. Having a good variety of toys is a good idea. But, again, you also want to shop for your baby’s age so you can use the toys to help support healthy development. Here are some examples to show you what we mean:
- When your baby is 0 to 4 months old, you can provide smooth toys that are easy to grab, along with a simple rattle can also help your baby build a strong grip. A toy that has a mirror can help your baby’s eyes focus better on faces, toys that hang overhead promote reaching and grabbing, and playmats are great for tummy play.
- When your baby is 4 to 6 months old, you can look for toys that also work as teethers to provide relief when the teeth start growing in. And you can also add toys that your baby can easily squeeze to help develop the ability to grasp things.
- When your baby is 6 to 9 months old, you can use toys, such as blocks, that are designed to help develop your little one’s motor skills, as well as toys that encourage your baby to crawl.
- When your baby is 9 to 12 months old, you can provide toys that help develop gross motor skills and fine motor skills, as well as tactile skills. Toys that also help improve coordination are also a good idea at this stage. Sensory balls are just one example of the types of toys that can be good for this stage.
The Best Baby Toys For Every Little One’s Toy Box
Are you ready to start shopping for an assortment of toys that will help your baby learn while having loads of fun? Check out our list of five recommendations below to get an idea of the many different products that are out there for babies of all ages. Remember: as your baby grows, introducing new toys will keep him or her engaged, and the more complex toys will further help with your little one’s development.
HABA has been a leader in quality toys for children for decades. They’re family-owned and run and have been since World War II. The HABA family has a sense of social responsibility and believes that quality products for children help better the world by helping baby’s brain develop through quality play. HABA has been an industry leader in sustainable and safe toys for children for decades and they give back and continues to create jobs in economically disadvantaged regions.
HABA is one of the few companies that uses reforested trees, and they’re PEFC so you can trust they’re taking the environment seriously. They use water-based solvents that are lacquered on, not painted, because they know babies like to chew and gnaw, and that’s one of the reasons we love these Fun With Sounds Discovery Blocks. Using Montessori theory of self-exploration, these bright and colorful toys will engage your wee one and they’ll squeal with delight at the sounds they make.
BRIO has been delighting children of all ages for over 130 years, and that’s especially true for babies with their safe and colorful toys that are eco-friendly and engaging. BRIO products are made exclusively from clear-grained, kiln-dried, toxin – and insecticide-free Birch and Beechwood, and they’re designed to keep your baby entertained, engaged and always developing with fun.
This happy and colorful clown is made from 9 wooden stacking pieces and will help promote their manual dexterity, sequencing and coordination skills in a safe way!
The first thing that jumps out when you see toys from Plan Toys is that they’re all about sustainable play.
And when they say ‘sustainable,’ they mean it. Plan Toys uses reclaimed rubber woods to enhance the first five formative years of your child’s life. These early years are when parents should encourage their children to experience freedom in playing and being part of nature.
Plan Toys was formed in the ’80s when several University graduates got together to change the world. The wood they use is otherwise useless in its native land of Thailand. And while the rubberwood trees no longer produce latex, the founders of Plan Toys figured out how to use all the parts of reclaimed trees. That includes the sawdust, which is what this incredible little submarine bath toy is made of.
Plan Toys founders figured out how to use every last bit of these reclaimed tree to inspire children all over the world. Plan Toys has a mission to create a sustainable world, and it’s obvious in every product they produce. They believe sustainable play fosters creative minds to learn about how nature gives back to them, and how they, in turn, can give to nature as they grow. This fun little bathtub toy is made with sustainable materials, with sustainable manufacturing processes. There’s no formaldehyde and the paints are water-based and organic. Perfect for littles who like to gnaw on their toys.
We totally dig Monti Kids. You can buy things through their subscription or individually, and we’re telling you, this Activity Gym is where.it’s.at when it comes to engaging your little one with Montessori based products. All the Monti Kids toys are age-appropriate, safe and non-toxic to your children. All toys in the Monti Kids line are made from food-grade silicone, non-toxic inks and/or sustainably forested wood so they’re entirely safe for your little one.
About 85% of a little one’s brain is formed by the time she’s three years old, so having stimulating, engaging toys that are also safe is a must. That’s one of the best reasons you’ll want to say hello to the Monti Kids Activity Gym. It’s designed to develop your baby’s attention, visual focus, concentration, shape recognition and color discrimination with simple but purposed and safe toys. It will help develop their gross and fine motor skills as well as their natural reflexes as they develop grip, strength, motor skills and body control. It’s safety-certified, and the packaging is 100% recyclable.
EverEarth’s vision is to teach families more about our environment. They do that with incredible products that parents and children love. They focus their business on sustainability and they use FSC-certified wood. They preserve forests as part of their Plant-a-Tree Campaign. They believe the best baby toys are ones that are made with sustainable practices (like solar-cells and wind power) and they want children and parents to be inspired to be closer to nature.
The makers at EverEarth care about our children because they’re parents too, and they want to help preserver Mother Nature for us all.
This adorable wooden grasping toy will teach your baby about so many different things, but she’ll just think she’s playing with her favorite toy. It teaches holding and grasping skills, and as they grow, you can work in patterns and shapes that will help develop their fine motor skills and spacial recognition. They’re safe for baby to gnaw away on (because we know they do) and fun too.
The Best Baby Toys Are The Ones That Your Child Plays With And Grows With
Shopping for toys for your baby can be fun because you’re picking out products that can put a big smile on your baby’s face, and they can help your bundle of joy learn new things too. We hope the suggestions above help you find some great toys for your little one. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice little collection of toys, and the variety will help keep things interesting and exciting every day.
Photo: Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock