Sure, babies can play with their feet or your nose for hours. And if you have time for repeat sessions of peek-a-boo, you’re an unsung hero. But baby toys and infant toys have a key place in children’s lives, too, as long as you choose ones that help them develop their fine and gross motor skills, and allow them to safely explore and make sense of what they see around them.
“Babies from their birth day to their first birthday are learning all about how this new and amazing world works. Young babies enjoy easy-to-grasp objects they can safely explore with their hands and mouths. Rattles, maracas, or textured teethers are perfect. Starting at about 6-9 months old, they enjoy toys that give them the thrill of cause-and effect—think about a busy box with buttons to push, a drum or toy piano to bang or plink, or bubbles for you to blow and them to pop,” says Rebecca Parlakian, the senior director of programs at Zero to Three.
Choose toys in bold, contrasting colors that are perfect for developing eyes. Different textures encourage your baby to reach out and grab their playthings and learn about their world through play. And don’t buy into any claims that battery-operated toys make babies smarter. In fact, as a rule of thumb: The more stuff a toy does, the less stuff your child has to do to engage with it.
Snuggly, soft, and colorful, this teether doubles as a rattle. The different fabrics have various textures, to keep kids interested, and make all sorts of sounds they love. Plus, it's machine washable.
This sweet little wood bird teaches babies about motion as they push it back and forth.
Another crowdpleaser, this soft ball is made up of eight fabrics, each a different texture and color to stimulate our baby's senses and provide a rich sensory play experience.
The eternally popular textured teether is made from rubber, has two rings with different textures for baby exploration, and is flexible enough for baby hands to squeeze and hold.
Each of these tumblers has a different texture inside, and makes a different sound. Babies practice fine motor skills and learn about color recognition.
When your baby shakes this gorgeous wood rattle, he or she will be mesmerized by the beads floating around in it, and by the fact that it makes sounds like a gentle rainfall. It's both a musical toy, and a sensory toy.
Colorful woodland creatures that double as maracas, each of these makes its own unique sound when a baby shakes it. They learn about cause and effect and hone their motor skills.
Sweet, simple, and basic, this soft toy is a solid way to let bigger babies and younger toddlers engage in pretend play. Babies can carry it around, move it from place to place, and feed it dinner.
Easy on the eyes, if not the ears, this drum teaches babies about rhythm. Babies use the drumsticks to bang, bang, and bang some more. Yes, it's loud. But it also helps develop essential motor skills. There's an electronic option as well, but your kid doesn't need it anytime soon.
Babies use this puppy as a push toy. Once your baby is mobile, this pull toy encourages him or her to be more active and practice walking.
This beautiful wooden shape sorter helps babies with their developmental skills and enables them to start recognize colors and shapes.
Another fantastic stacking toy, this one introduces babies to different-sized rings, all of which come together to create a very cute creature.
This baby toy is the gold standard. Babies explore, touch, play, and get their dose of tummy time. The toys are removable and washable. And when your baby grows out of it, it converts into a play fort.
This baby toy set, made entirely from recycled plastic, encourages babies to problem-solve by stacking stuff. It's also how they start to figure out just how things works.
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