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Here’s a list of 25 best baby development toys for the first year. The essential baby toys that help support babies as they change and develop new skills.
12 BEST TOYS FOR BABY’S FIRST YEAR: ONE TOY FOR EACH MONTH
There are a LOT of baby toys out there and it can be really hard to work out which are the best to buy.
Based on my experience as a mum, I’ve put together a list of the 12 best toys for baby’s first year. That’s one toy for each month.
Now you don’t necessarily need to buy one toy per month, but this list of the best baby toys will at least help guide you to the best toys for you to buy for your baby right now – or the best toy to give as a gift.
I’ve put together a quick buy list if you just want to grab and run. But do keep scrolling down if you’d like to read my tips on what to look for when choosing baby toys.
I give you the in-depth information on what a baby needs during each month of their first year, what their developmental milestones are and why each toy I have chosen is appropriate for that month in their development.
QUICK BUY LIST
- One-month old: Lamaze Gardenbug Wrist Rattles & Foot Finders
- Two-month-old: Bright Starts Floor Mirror
- Three-month-old: Fisher-Price Rainforest Baby Gym
- Four-month-old: Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle
- Five-month-old: Infantino 3-in-1 Spin & Stand Entertainer
- Six-month-old: Lamaze Rainbow Stacking Rings
- Seven-month-old: VTech Baby Turn and Learn Baby Activity Cube
- Eight-month-old: VTech Pull and Sing Puppy
- Nine-month-old: VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker
- Ten-month-old: Fisher-Price My First Fidget Cube
- 11-month-old: Green Toys Shape Sorter
- 12-month-old: Baby Einstein Magic Touch Piano Wooden
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A BABY TOY
In my experience as a mum, I’ve learned there are several important qualities that make a great baby toy.
The toy needs to be age-appropriate, it needs to support a baby’s development and learning, it must encourage some level of physical activity and most importantly, the toy needs to be engaging and FUN!!!
Bearing all these qualities in mind I have put together a list of 12 toys that I believe are really brilliant buys for a baby in their first 12 months.
To keep things simple I’ve included one toy for every one of the first 12 months.
Of course many of these toys can and will go on to be played with and enjoyed for many more months. Which is the sign of a really great value for money toy.
THE BEST BABY TOYS ARE THE TOYS YOUR BABY LOVES TO PLAY WITH
It’s very easy to either go for baby toys that look super cute and are the toy of the moment or to go all out for toys that the makers profess will turn your baby into a genius.
But the best baby toys, the toys that tend to be worth their weight in gold are the ones that your baby LOVES to play with.
Because if they don’t engage and excite your baby, the toy is really nothing more than an ornament!
BUY AGE-APPROPRIATE TOYS
One good rule of thumb that will ensure you end up with a toy box full of toys your baby loves is to introduce age-appropriate toys as your baby goes through their first months.
Babies don’t need a mountain of toys, they just need a few well-chosen toys that they will actually engage and play with.
Give a baby an age-appropriate developmental toy and you will usually find it captures their attention, plus it has the added benefit of developing some or all of their skills, like their gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive skills, language skills or social skills.
The majority of the toys that I’ve included on this list of the best baby toys have sensory qualities to them. Toys that stimulate some of all of your baby’s five senses. They have bright contrasting colors, interesting textures and sounds.
Ultimately, babies learn through play, so the more stimulating, interesting and appealing the toys are that we give to our babies, the more they will develop and hone their skills and senses and have a great deal of fun doing so.
So, here is my list of the best toys for baby’s first year, one for every month that is appropriate for the milestones they are reaching and the life skills they are learning.
It’s inspired by the toys that I found my daughter and her friends loved and got the most fun out of in the first 12 months of her life. I hope you find some future gems for your baby on this list.
12 BEST TOYS FOR BABY’S FIRST YEAR – MONTH BY MONTH GUIDE
1 MONTH OLD: WRIST RATTLES AND FOOT FINDERS
Babies spend their first few weeks learning to turn towards sound, follow stuff with their eyes and strengthening their neck muscles.
They aren’t exactly ready for toys, but there are toys that are super useful for helping them develop all these skills. One of the best toys you could buy for a newborn is a set of wrist rattles and foot finders.
LAMAZE GARDEN BUGS WRIST RATTLES AND FOOT FINDERS
My daughter had this exact set with bright friendly bugs on. I’d sit with her propped in the crook of my lap, with the rattles on her wrists and foot finders on her tiny feet and watch her face light up as she followed the sights and sounds as her hands and feet fidgeted.
If these don’t catch your eye, there’s a whole rainbow array of different versions to choose from.
TWO MONTHS OLD: FLOOR MIRROR
Around two months is when you will really start to notice your baby staying awake for longer stretches – especially if you are finding it hard to stay awake yourself!!
So it’s great to have toys to hand that can mesmerise a baby and keep them occupied… enter the floor mirror!! A two-month-old baby won’t recognise themselves yet, but they will find their own reflection fascinating.
GREAT STARTS FLOOR MIRROR
This Bright Starts Floor Mirror is perfect to introduce during tummy-time (something it is important to do with your baby from the day they are born) to let your baby discover their face in, plus I love that the mirror is surrounded by fabric that crinkles – oh and I love that it folds flat, great for popping in your baby bag for when you’re outside your home.
3 MONTHS OLD: BABY GYM
Whilst a three-month-old baby won’t make full use of a baby gym, it is a great time to introduce one. A lot of parents have them from birth, but it is easy to over-stimulate very young babies, so I think it is worth waiting until your baby is around three months to get the best from it.
This is the exact baby gym that my daughter had and she ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. We have some beautiful video of her happily guggling away whilst playing and experiencing this gym.
FISHER-PRICE RAINFOREST BABY GYM
The gym is the Rainforest Baby Gym by Fisher-Price. The gym has hanging activity toys, lights and sounds to give your baby a sensory experience that encourages them to push up during tummy time.
This particular baby gym is great because you can move the hanging toys to different heights, dependent on what stage your baby is at.
The mat itself makes crinkle sounds when the baby is on certain parts of it and has a lovely satiny border, which is a sensory delight for babies.
4 MONTHS OLD: GRABBABLE TOY
By four months old a baby can usually raise their arms up when they’re on their tummy, it’s also around this age that babies are able to roll over fully by themselves and reach for objects. This is a great time to introduce a squishy, grabbable ball-shaped toy.
MANHATTAN TOY WINKEL RATTLE & SENSORY TEETHER
The Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether from Manhattan Toy Company has intertwined brightly coloured soft tubes that make it eminently grabbable, which is great for developing fine motor-skills, chewable, great for teething, which can start as young as four months old (it is BPA-free) and the WInkel is easy to shake and the rattle has a lovely satisfying rattling sound.
The Winkel is yet another Manhattan Toy that has won a ton of awards, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award. In short, it’s a design classic that any four-month-old baby will love.
5 MONTHS OLD: ACTIVITY CENTRE
Whilst it’s super important to spend plenty of time each day playing with your baby, stimulating them, encouraging their motor-skill development and of course simply enjoying spending time with them.
It is also at around the five month point that you will also really value having somewhere that your baby can play safely and amuse themselves for short bursts of time, so that you can actually get some stuff done!
INFANTINO 3-IN-1 SPIN & STAND ENTERTAINER
Whilst I can wholeheartedly recommend the Jumperoo, as mentioned in my big list of baby development toys, I’m including the Infantino 3-in-1 Sping & Stand Entertainer as my recomendation for an activity centre here.
I think the Sit & Stand Entertainer is particularly great because it converts from something babies sit and play in, to something that they can cruise around and play with. So, you will actually get even more use out of it.
6 MONTHS OLD: STACKING TOYS
Six-month-old babies are super keen to interact with the world around them. Things they can generally do at this age include sitting up with support, beginning to push up to a crawling position and picking up an object and pass it from one hand to another.
Six-month olds are also rapidly ticking off cognitive milestones, this is the time when everything they grab goes to their mouths to try and make sense of it, they will reach for anything and everything and they move in the direction they want to go.
FISHER PRICE STACKING RINGS
So I think that six-months is the perfect age to introduce your baby to stacking toys. They can be blocks, cups or boxes or rings.
My suggestion for the best baby toy for a six-month-old is the Fisher Price Stacking Rings because they are supremely grabbable and an absolute classic.
Babies won’t be able to stack by themselves at this age, but they will have lots of fun grabbing them, watching you stack them for them and of course, knocking them down, which will undoubtedly bring on a bout of giggles.
You can also use stacking toys to start tuning your baby’s ear to counting as you stack and you can also use them to start teaching your baby how to take turns.
7-MONTHS OLD: ACTIVITY CUBE
When my daughter got to around seven months I started to focus more on helping her to play independently, which is great for a baby’s development. You can’t really expect independent play to last more than ten minutes at this stage, but it really does help to develop their confidence and independence.
I found that one of the best toys to keep by then baby daughter engaged, and therefore my must-have suggestion for a seven-month-old, is an activity cube.
VTECH BABY TURN AND LEARN ACTIVITY CUBE
Now I love a wooden activity cube, but I have to confess that this VTech Baby Turn and Learn Activity Cube is pretty brilliant.
The great thing about activity cubes is that babies, toddlers and preschoolers all love them – that’s why they can often be found in doctor surgery waiting rooms and the like!! So they are great value for money.
8 MONTHS OLD: PULL TOY
Most babies will be crawling by 8 months, they are keen to explore and have great little imaginations. This is a great age to introduce a pull toy, which will encourage them to move around, hone fine motor skills (grasping the string) and teach them cause and effect, especially if the toy has sounds and extra things moving on it when it is pulled.
VTECH PULL AND SING PUPPY
We had a classic wooden pull toy, but I absolutely love this VTEch Pull and Sing Puppy and can totally understand why it gets such positive reviews on Amazon.
The puppy plays music when it is pushed or pulled – it’s little nose lights up with the music, which is so cute. The puppy has buttons to push and really encourages interactivity and imaginary play.
9 MONTHS OLD: PUSH WALKER
At nine-months babies are well and truly into the cruising stage, pulling themselves up, cruising around holding onto furniture and whatever they can find. So I think a must-have is a push walker.
You’ll want a walker that is both sturdy and that your baby can get a good grip on. I’d also suggest you go for one that does more than just allow your baby to push it around.
VTech SIT-TO-STAND LEARNING WALKER
With all the above in mind, my suggestion is to go for this Amazon best-seller, the VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker, which encourages interactive play and imitative play with its fun gadgets (which baby doesn’t love a phone to imitate their parents?!) music and lights.
10 MONTHS OLD: FIDGET TOY
Ten month old babies are usually sitting upright, crawling, standing up and cruising, making sounds oh and they will put ANYTHING in their mouth!!
Ten-months is a great time to encourage your baby to play with toys that help a combination of their fine motor skills and cognitive skills.
FISHER-PRICE MY FIRST FIDGET CUBE
The great thing about the Fisher-Price My First Fidget Cube is that it is great for chucking in your bag as something to entertain your baby when you’re out. The cube has got different activities on each of its sides, things to click things to toggle, things to press, in short, lots of things to keep give your baby’s fine motor skills a workout alongside giving their cognitive skills a boost. There are sounds that accompany all the activities, so this is a thoroughly entertaining toy for a ten-month-old.
11 MONTHS OLD: SHAPE SORTER
By eleven months babies are usually able to pick up small objects using their thumb and forefinger, this is a great time to introduce a sorting toy.
GREEN TOYS SHAPE SORTER
This Green Toys Shape Sorter will help stimulate your baby’s fine motor skills and cognitive skills as they try to fit the shapes through the correct shaped holes.
I particularly love Green Toys because they use 100% recycled plastic in their toys.
12 MONTHS OLD: MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
Wow, we’re at 12 months, a whole year old!! It’s amazing to think how much a baby changes and grows in their first year of life.
One of our daughter’s favourite and most-used first birthday gifts was a little red piano. I can’t say we always loved the sounds that came from her efforts, but oh my she had fun!!
So yes, 12 months is a great age to introduce a musical toy your baby’s toy armoury.
BABY EINSTEIN MAGIC TOUCH WOODEN PIANO
The Baby Einstein Magic Touch Wooden Piano is simply magical. The great thing about this piano is that babies can either create their own music or play along to classic tunes. And a big plus is that it has a special LOW VOLUME for when you need a little quiet in the house and a HIGH VOLUME for big performances!!!!
MORE BABY TOY CONTENT
I really hope my list of the best toys for baby’s first year has proved useful to you.
One other thing that I wanted to add is that you could always pop some of the toys on your baby shower wish list, that way you wouldn’t have to rely on buying them all yourself or hoping that someone will buy you one as a gift.
Finding yourself fascinated by baby toys?! I do have an even more in-depth post on the best developmental baby toys for the first 12 months of your baby’s life. I’ve also put together a post on the best building toys for babies up to preschoolers.
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Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists. She has written about all aspects of organising family life for ten years. Her main areas of expertise are family finance and budgeting, simplifying housekeeping and family admin and kids’ party planning. Read more.