Buying Guide: Toys for Babies

For babies and young children playtime is like work, and toys are their tools for getting the job done.  It more than just having fun when he coos at his rattle or tries his hand at stacking plastic “donuts.”

Playing helps to develop a baby’s social, intellectual, emotional, language, and problem-solving skills. Swatting at a mobile, rolling around a musical ball, or simply working with a rattle helps babies to learn about the world. Such play also helps them to connect sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell to objects, to recognize shapes, patterns, and colors, develop hand-eye coordination and memory, and to bond with you and others.

At this young age children grow and develop so quickly that you have to look at smaller age groups to find the appropriate toy.

Newborns to 3 months
At this age toys with high-contrast colors that make interesting noises are great, such as rattles and play keys. Musical crib mobiles with bright, primary-color objects or patterns that stimulate the baby’s sense of sight. (Remember to keep toys out of the crib.)

Here are some suggestions to get you started:


4-10 months old
By this age babies can reach and grasp for objects.  They are more interactive with their hand and feet and can search for the source of sounds.

Activity gyms that feature brightly-colored floor and hanging objects can work quite well.  Babies at this age also tend to enjoy balls with sounds or music inside, musical toys, washable baby books, and toys that have flaps and/or lids that can be opened and closed.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

9 months to 1 year old
Starting about 9 months, babies get a little more physical, including shaking, banging, throwing, and dropping toys. They enjoy searching for hidden objects, taking objects out of containers, poking their fingers into holes, stacking, sorting, and nesting.

Therefore look for lightweight balls, nesting and stacking blocks or cups with rounded edges, pop-up toys that require sliding, toggling, pulling, and turning, squeeze and bath toys, soft dolls, puppets, and baby books, musical toys, and toy telephones and push-pull playthings.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

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