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The Best Infant Toys and Baby Toys, According to Child Development Experts

Because you don't have time for hours of peek-a-boo.

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. The best developmental toys for babies 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.  

You secure these rattles to any surface with suction cups. And when your baby or toddler rattles them, the turtle, octopus, and whale each make a unique sound. Cause and effect for the win.

Babies are drawn to high-contrast patterns, and this trio is made up of different shapes. Each one features visually stimulating colors and sensory stimuli, such as crinkle paper, a rattle, and a chime.

What's more fun than stacking stuff? It's knocking stuff down. Both actions help babies work on their motor skills. These soft blocks are easy for young children to lift and manipulate, and help them learn about colors, animals, and numbers.

So simple yet so perfect: Children work hard to grasp the shapes, and work even harder to put them into the correct slots. It's a lesson in dexterity.

A sensory cube, made up of bright primary colors, that encourages babies to work on their motor skills. There are ribbons, crinkled paper, a rattle, a squeaker, and a baby-safe mirror. All to keep your child engaged and encourage her to explore.

Bright colors, coupled with an elastic band, give babies endless opportunities for manipulating the pieces and thus working on their gross motor skill training.

Babies love looking at themselves. Hence the mirror in the middle of this puzzle, which is made up of textured animal pieces that stand up and boost both color and shape recognition and motor skills.

Not only is this bead maze a celebration of colors and shapes, but it helps with hand-eye coordination as they use their fingers to manipulate and move the beads around.

The simplest toys are sometimes the most fulfilling. Such is the case with this set of eight stackable cups, which babies can use in the bath or out. They learn about balance and problem-solving as they figure out what cup goes where.

Babies recognize race-based differences as early as six months. So get your child this wonderful soft doll, which has a magnetic pacifier, life-like toes, fingers, and belly button, and is ideal for cuddling and nurturing. Plus she's washable.

These rattles, which are made from rice-based materials, give your child's hand-eye coordination a nice workout. The rattles contain a wooden bead, a bell, and plastic beads, all of which make noises when your baby shakes them. Plus, they double as stacking toys.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kids work on their hand-eye coordination as they figure out what shape and color goes where.

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