Whether you have a baby or are expecting, you’ve probably noticed the hundreds of thousands of toys on the market designed for infants. With so much to choose from, how could any parent be expected to know which toys are the best for their baby, let alone know which ones are the safest?
As a parent, you want to ensure that your child has fun, engaging toys that aid in their development. At the same time, you want to know that there are no harmful chemicals in their construction. As parents ourselves, we understand your concerns. That’s why we decided to create this list.
We’ve scoured the internet to find toys that are not only safe but actively foster healthy development in young minds while keeping them occupied at the same time. Here are a group of products that we consider to be the best baby toys on the market.
Do Babies Need Toys?
Yes and no. Newborns don’t need toys and are rarely interested in them. Their primary concerns are eating and sleeping, so it’s rare to see a young baby want to play with any of the toys on the market. Around the three-month mark, however, that changes.
From three months onward, babies take a great interest in their surroundings. You’ll find them eager to touch objects, pick things up, and especially place them in their mouths. Since this stage in their life is one of great cognitive development, it is an excellent time to encourage that growth through a variety of toys.
While toys are not considered essential for your baby, studies show that they provide some benefits for your child. A variety of toys with different functions foster a baby’s social, intellectual, and problem-solving skills. Key aspects of development aided by toys include:
- Exploring shapes
- Hand-eye coordination
- Pattern and color recognition
- Spatial concepts
- Defining similarities and differences
- Fostering curiosity
- Understanding cause and effect
- Intonation and other child-directed speech patterns
- Motor skills
- And object permanence
Babies are happy to play with anything from a wooden spoon to a button on your shirt, so never feel as though you need to break the bank to provide your child with the stimulation they need. When shopping around, the best baby toys to choose are vibrant in color and offer engaging textures. Also, make sure the toy is something they can safely place into their mouths.
How We Chose Our Ratings
We take great care in creating all of our product lists, but we wanted to give particular attention to our list of best baby toys. To do that, we considered a few extra things.
As always, we start with customer reviews and testimonials. Parents know best whether their children liked a specific toy or not, and give the best insights into how a toy performs. Brand reputation also plays a factor since several companies have produced high-quality baby toys for decades.
After that, we look into data surrounding the product. This is where we looked at a few extra aspects of each toy such as safety, the materials used, and how the toy aides in child development. Our goal is to bring you a list of top-notch products, not try to sell you anything or showcase items we consider sub-par.
The 9 Best Baby Toys
After hours of research, we’ve gathered nine products that excel in each area of our criteria for best baby toys. This list is a little different than usual. Instead of ranking each out of five, we’ve only selected products that received a five-star ranking based on our rating system. Why? Simple, every baby deserves the best.
1. Manhattan Toy – Toy Winkel
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Manhattan Toy’s “Winkel” is a unique looking product. It features a central square with a variety of colorful tubes looping in and out from the square’s faces. The solid construction keeps the tubes firmly in place, ensuring there’s no choking hazard.
The Winkel can be refrigerated, providing a cooling sensation that aides in teething. When shaken, the toy makes a rattling sound sure to mesmerize your little one. The lightweight build also allows babies to pick this object up and move it around.
The bright colors are sure to intrigue any infant, too. This toy aides in several areas of development from hand-eye coordination to pattern and color recognition. With numerous positive reviews, it’s safe to say that this toy is a smash hit amongst babies.
2. Lamaze – Jacque The Peacock
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Jacque the Peacock is an adorable toy designed to aid in your child’s sensory development. It’s colorful design, and crinkly feathers provide ample stimulation, while the different features on each of its tail feathers offer a different way your baby can play with it.
A squeaker in one engages your baby’s auditory senses, while another’s rattle makes this a fun toy to shake. A non-glass mirror allows them to develop their ability to focus while exploring the features of their face and picking up the ability to track images. Finally, a knotted design on one wing is excellent for chewing.
Jacque has outstanding reviews from parents, many of whom appreciate the attached clip for mobiles and car seats. Plus, Lamaze is well known for creating high-quality toys specially designed to foster development.
3. Lamaze – Octotunes Musical Toy
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Equally as adorable as Jacque, this plush octopus helps babies learn how to focus. This is crucial for healthy eye development and hand-eye coordination. Its multitude of bright, dazzling colors is sure to entertain, but its musical capabilities are the main draw.
Each tentacle of the Octotunes toy plays a separate musical tune, offering countless hours of fun for your baby. Lamaze’s toy also includes a color-coded songbook, which allows parents to work on reading skills with their little one as they grow older.
4. Skip Hop – Musical Egg Shaker Trio
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This tow is a three-in-one, featuring an owl, hedgehog, and fox. Each creates a different rattling sound when shaken, as well as a textured stomach to keep your baby occupied. This product, like all Skip Hop toys, is 100% phthalate free.
The bright colors and textures work to stimulate your child’s senses, aiding them in both auditory and visual development. The use of three animals also helps them create associations with objects over time.
5. Baby Einstein – Take Along Tunes
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Baby Einstein is a significant name in the industry, well known for producing some of the best baby toys on the market. Take Along Tunes looks like a cartoonish MP3 player, which plays classical pieces from the likes of Chopin and Rossini.
Each tune is accompanied by bright lights and a variety of colors, making this an incredibly entertaining toy. As your baby plays with the device, they develop an understanding of cause and effect. Throw in moving rings on an easy-to-hold handle, and you have an excellent toy for any car ride.
6. Skip Hop – Stroller and Car Seat Toy
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Skip Hop’s stroller/car seat toy is a cute carryon featuring a cloud, sun, star, and rain. They can tug an pull any of the various plush parts, but tugging on the handle in the middle causes the cloud to vibrate gently.
The toy helps them understand cause and effect while also working on their motor skills through grip. As they grow older, identifying the shapes of this toy is another developmental benefit. The clip on the top allows you to easily attach this toy to any stroller, car seat, or crib.
7. WubbaNub – Pacifier
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Part plush stuffed animal, part pacifier, this simplistic toy is beneficial for both parents and babies. The design allows your child to fully grab hold of the pacifier while giving them a stuffed toy to play with. At the same time, the attached animal makes it easy for you to find the pacifier when it inevitably gets flung across the room.
You can choose from a variety of animals, including an elephant and a giraffe. Parents have noted in reviews that this product comes in handy during the middle of the night, the hardest time to find a pacifier that has gone M.I.A. It also helps to foster motor control skills.
8. Cloud B – Plush Sleep Sheep Sound Machine
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Sleep machines have come under controversy over the past few years with many claiming they may be too loud for a baby’s developing ears. Cloud B took those findings into consideration when developing Sleep Sheep, an award winner that underwent extensive testing before coming to market.
Sleep Sheep plays eight different melodies as well as white noise sounds such as heartbeat and ocean waves. Its volume is lowered, providing the same soothing effects as other devices without the harsh decibel count. A 45-minute sleep timer saves on batteries, and the plush design makes it a safe play toy to snuggle.
9. Vulli – Sophie the Giraffe Teether
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Sophie is designed with teething and vision recognition in mind. Her spots and colored marking are easily visible to children from a young age, while her pliable design is as soft on gums as is it virtually indestructible. Parents rave over how attached to this toy their children become, loving it from the moment Sophie leaves her box.
The toy squeaks when your baby squeezes it or bites down, offering another level of interactive fun. Every aspect of this product’s construction is centered around safety first. So, you don’t have to worry about letting your child play freely and chew Sophie up.
While we consider the products on this list to be the best, there are still hundreds of fantastic toys to choose from. To aid you in your search for baby-friendly toys, we’ve put together this helpful buyer’s guide.
What Your Baby Wants
Without the ability to speak (and no real talent at charades, yet), it isn’t always to tell what your baby wants. You can, however, pick out a toy that they will love without their help.
From the moment they enter the world to around one year, babies explore the world through their developing senses. Sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste are everything to them. Since those senses are still in development, babies have a limited ability to experience them in full.
So, your child is going to gravitate towards bright, primary, and high-contrast colors. They notice simplistic designs, small changes in sound, and anything with texture after the three-month mark. Since their ability to reach out and grab hold of objects doesn’t develop initially, mobiles and noise machines are best for zero to two months.
After three months, your baby is ready for soft toys they can squeeze, bite, and shake. Stick with the same color and texture patterns but give them a little more to play with on their own. Anything that makes noise is excellent during this period, as are toys they can chew freely.
Growth and Development
Now that you know what babies enjoy during their first year, the next step is to find toy designs that also encourage development. Hand-eye coordination and motor skills are the primary areas of mental growth from around six months onwards. Cause and effect toys, the kind they can operate, are highly favored during this time.
There are numerous mental developments within the first year. So, look to see what different baby toys are designed for. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to do a quick internet search to see what aspects of a toy are created for different aspects of development.
Last, but not least, a toy needs to be safe. A good rule of thumb is not to give your baby anything that can fit into a toilet paper tube (1.75 inches). If the toy is larger than that, your baby cannot swallow it.
Next, the toy needs to be chemical free. Specifically, you want to check for phthalates that could potentially harm their hormonal growth. Lead and other toxins were removed from baby toys a long time ago, but it never hurts to read the material list anyway. If there are no materials listed, look for “recycling #3” on the box to rule phthalates out.