Sure, babies can play with their feet or your nose for hours. But baby toys have a place in their lives, too. According to the CDC, babies from birth to the age of one learn to focus their vision, reach out, explore, and learn about the things that are around them. They start to babble, and truly bond with the people in their lives.
Keeping babies entertained and engaged is easy—if you’ve got all the time in the world to play peek-a-boo or make goofy faces at them. But if you’re like most parents and have plenty of other things on your to-do list, you need top-tier baby gear to make baby smile while you’re otherwise occupied.
See more: Best Toys For One Year Olds
According to experts, the best toys for babies boast bold, contrasting colors which are perfect for developing eyes. A variety of textures encourages baby to reach out and grab their playthings with those adorable, dimpled little hands.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, opt for toys that help build developmental skills, meaning toys such as shape sorters, stacking blocks, and baby-safe puzzles. Make sure all toys are age-appropriate, and that your baby uses them under supervision.And, as anyone who’s ever met a baby knows, most items are going to make their way into your little one’s mouth, so all toys need to be safe should baby decide to munch on them. These are the best baby toys for your infant.
If you'd rather avoid plastic (and really, who would blame you?), this wood stacking toy has your name on it. Made from sustainably-harvested wood, this rabbit stacker includes six bright rings and a bunny head with felt ears. It's a classic that also happens to help build problem-solving skills.
Older babies can learn hand-eye coordination and problem solving by stacking rings onto this innocuous and friendly bunny.
We love HABA toys, because their quality speaks for itself. This baby toy, for tots six months and older, is meant for grabbing and rattling. It has a built-in bell and when babies shake this ray of sunshine, the ray wiggle around.
Bonus: This wood rattle is made from wood that’s sustainably harvested in Germany. All the paints are water-based, and this toy is just noisy enough to keep babies engaged, without driving their parents nuts.
Babies roll the 12 balls over one another, and shake them. Which may sound boring to you, but keeps babies very, very engaged. This baby toy is hand-made in Germany from wood harvested from sustainably managed European forests.
Not only is this toy great for babies of any age, it’s also perfect for teething because the colors are all water-based. Infants can shake the toy, have the balls roll over each other, and bang it to their heart’s desire.
Toys get boring, fast. Which means your baby needs this interactive hub, which has a crawl-through door, porch light, a mailbox that opens and closes, and a shape-sorter recycling bin. It's basically the Xanadu of baby toys.
Ideal for babies six months and older, this mansion also has a drop-through rain gutter, a home-office area that its own light, a kitchen area, and can communicate in four languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin and French. But you want more, you say? Well, how about 200 songs, sounds and phrases that help your kiddo learn his or her numbers, colors, shapes, and letters.
Each of the soft animals has a rattle, chime and squeaker inside it to encourage cause and effect learning. And by putting the animals inside the canoe, babies learn gross motor skills.
Your baby can squeeze, throw and shake these three soft animals, which all make noises, and then gently place (we mean shove) them into their canoe.
Babies have a blast with this friendly octopus by squeezing each tentacle and hearing a unique musical note. As little ones grow into curious toddlers, they can learn to make their own simple songs or follow the how-to guide, which is included, play some basic tunes. Tots enjoy the sensory experience that comes from touching this octopus’ interesting textures as well.
Crinkly and soft, the cute octopus gives babies their first taste of cause and effect as they control the sounds the toy produces. Because it only makes noise when baby squeezes it, parents don’t have to deal with turning it on or off. Thanks to its sturdy tentacles, the octopus can stand on his own. It arrives with a “delightful vanilla scent.”
This colorful flip fish is a squeaking, crinkling, and multi-textured soft toy with bold facial features and pictures hidden beneath the scales. Machine washable, this Melissa & Doug favorite is certain to last a lot longer than a real goldfish.
Perfect for a game of peek-a-boo, the fish is oversized for tiny hands and features several good teething areas. Infinitely portable, you can bring it in the car or let baby enjoy it during tummy time. Kids love the crinkling and squeaking sounds while parents think it’s a great value for the price. Well-made, the fish is a hit with babies as young as 2 months of age.
Older babies can get their puzzle game on with this three-piece puzzle, which features extra-thick pieces easy for small hands to hold. It encourages hand-eye coordination and visual perception skills.
Melissa & Doug’s wood baby puzzles are the gold standard. They’re easy for little hands to hold and maneuver, and they are safe when babies mouth them. Which they will do. Plus, they’re easy to wipe down.
This 16-block set features eight colored blocks and eight black and white ones, which will hold baby’s interest and encourage building and imaginative play. Made from soft but surface-washable fabric, some blocks make crinkle noises while others rattle or have bells sewn inside.
Babies enjoy opening the cloth windows to peek at what’s beneath. Engage budding builders by designing towers with these square and triangle shaped blocks. The lack of sharp edges makes them safe should baby tumble on top of them. They’re big enough for little hands to grasp on their own. This set comes in its own plastic carrying case for easy picking up and putting away.
Parents and babies alike love this adorable sheep who makes eight soothing sounds including, Mothers Heartbeat, Spring Showers, Ocean Surf, Whale Songs, Twinkle Twinkle, Rockabye Baby. Remove the soundbox and this toy can be machine washed and dried. It’s the winner of several industry awards, including the National Parenting Council's Seal of Approval and the iParenting Media Award.
This animal has kids snoozing in no time, parents note. Thanks to two sleep timer options, you can set this sheep to play for either 23 or 45 minutes, then it automatically shuts off. It attaches to the side of the crib and the volume can be adjusted with a dial, giving more options than if it had preset levels. Babies like the womb and whale sounds, while older kids (and parents) like the rain and the ocean settings. Just make sure it doesn’t get into the crib, because a baby should be in his or her sleep space solo.
Featuring threes modes, this toy grows right along with baby. Dance ‘n Move: Fun features energizing music that encourages baby to move around. Learning & Games gets baby familiar with the ABCs, colors, and counting.
Baby’s actions make this little guy move, which is a fun way to teach cause and effect, and get plenty of giggles in the process. Kids never lose interest in this toy, which also has a “Freeze Dance” setting and even lets you record your own song or message.
Though this toy can function as a walker once your baby starts cruising, little ones can enjoy the removable play panel during their crawling phase. It features more than 70 sing-along songs, music, sound effects, and fun phrases. Babies can also make their own tunes with the five piano keys. Its wheels work on carpeting as well as hard floors.
The toy phone encourages imaginative play, while the lights and music are a big hit with younger tots. The wheels have a lock so kids won’t fall if they’re just learning to walk. Plus, it’s cheaper than an actual cell phone.
This five-sided block toy is made of BPA-free plastic, and has adjustable volume, as well as an auto shut-off. The four light-up buttons introduce animal names, animal sounds, and shapes.
Affordable and safe, this encourages babies to sit up and play. No assembly is required so you can open it and let the fun begin. It holds little ones’ attention for ages and remains a favorite well into the toddler years.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.