Baby toys run the gamut from simple and soothing, to music and lights. There are lots of options to keep your baby entertained, and even safe household objects have their place in the toddler’s learning universe. Just try to avoid screen time as an easy distraction. New research shows that looking at phones, tablets or televisions rewires the brains of children under two and can interfere with high-order cognitive skills. Toys that stimulate curiosity and encourage discovery are best. To help you sort through the hundreds of options on the market, we’ve compiled a list of the top five best baby toys, according to 14 experts.
Books, activity cards or toys with high-contrast black and white patterns attract a baby’s attention because they are easier for them to see. It’s a good idea to add some of these to your list to help develop your baby’s concentration, attention span and eyesight. Mirrors are great for keeping them occupied in the car or during tummy time, and don’t forget the clip-on toys for stroller, crib and car seat! There are lots of toys to make bath time fun as well and reading to your baby (even before you think they can understand) is, in fact, beneficial.
That being said, a recent study conducted at Princeton University’s baby lab shows that when you play with your baby, your brains “sync up” and share the same wavelengths, which is believed to contribute to language skills and social development. And if you’re speaking “baby talk” while interacting with your baby, another study shows you’ll also speed up their vocabulary development. The repetitive and melodic sounds used in baby talk help infants learn new words faster. Babies may also imitate the songs and music they hear, so choose some toys with musical tunes you don’t mind hearing often!
If you’re looking for the perfect gift or a collection of the best baby toys to start your child out right, we’ve got you covered. Don’t see your babe’s favorite on the list? Give other parents the scoop in the comments section below!
The List: Top 5 Baby Toys, According To Experts
1. Fisher Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym
A play gym for pre-crawling babies is a must, and MomJunction loves the versatility and room to grow with this one. “Fisher-Price brings you the Deluxe Kick ‘n Play Piano Gym that grows with your infant and allows them to play in four ways—lay and play, tummy time, sit and play, and take along. It is designed with the Smart Stages technology, where your munchkin can enjoy different content at different stages. The activity kit features five-light-up piano keys, a detachable keyboard, a repositionable toy arch, five hanging toys, including a teether and a mirror, and a padded mat. Invest in this gym to develop your baby’s sensory and gross motor skills and spark their curiosity.”
It’s a great learning tool even into toddlerhood. “When she gets bigger still, the Kick & Play’s piano detaches and can be used for musical games that teach colors, shapes, and numbers and even allow her to compose her own tunes,” adds BabyCenter.
SFGATE raves, “With 4.8 stars and more than 20,000 ratings on Amazon, the Kick n’ Play Piano Gym is a little stimulation hub for rapidly expanding minds.”
2. The First Years Stack N Count Cups
This classic toy has been around for ages, with good reason. It’s simple and fun for a variety of settings and activities. “Your baby will love to play with this set of eight colorful cups, featuring numbers that correspond with the number of holes in the bottom. Your little one might want to stack or unstack the cups, hide things underneath them, pour water out of them during bath time, or take them to the sandbox or the beach,” says Pampers.
“‘A tower can be mastered quickly, giving tots a sense of confidence,’ says Meredith Sinclair, ambassador for The Genius of Play, an initiative of the Toy Industry Association,” writes Parents.
For BabyGearLab, it’s all about making bath time easier: “Bath time can be fun or anxiety-inducing, depending on your experience or knowledge level. But with the right baby gifts, you can make bathing a baby a more enjoyable experience for parents and little ones.”
3. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy
If you’re looking for the perfect baby gift, this one appears on most lists. Verywell Family writes, “Suitable for babies from 0 to 24 months old, this toy is a mesmerizing maze of safe, soft, and continuous tubes. For gummy little ones, it’s a perfect baby teething toy and great for clutching and promoting two-handed play. We think you’ll love how easy the toy clips onto a stroller, so your little one can play while on the go, too.”
“Not only is it visually stimulating, but the Winkel Infant Toy is both a teether and a rattle. Babies can grasp it, suck on it and shake it. They absolutely love this toy!” enthuses Parade.
Parents touts its role in developing fine motor skills. “‘First you shake it, then one day your baby will grab it and wave it, honing fine motor skills,’ says Ahren Hoffman, director of education and training for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.”
4. Baby Einstein Flip for Art High Contrast Floor Activity Mirror
Not sure where to begin with tummy time? According to What to Expect, you should start right away. “‘No, your newborn isn’t too young for tummy time. The AAP recommends newborns start tummy time as soon as they’re home from the hospital (supervised and for short increments of time, of course). Giving your newborn a toy during tummy time, like this Baby Einstein activity mirror, will encourage her to stay there longer,’ Caplan-Colon notes. The toy features a baby-safe mirror framed with contrasting black-and-white and primary-color images and patterns, all of which will help develop baby’s vision.”
The Spruce lists baby-safe mirrors among the best baby toys for ages 0 to 6 months. They make a great distraction on car rides, too. “You can also strap them to a car seat, giving your baby a reflection to babble to.”
Add it to the list of toys that grow with your child. (Definitely a parent’s measure of a top toy!) “You know your little one is the absolute cutest ever. Now you can let them see their adorableness, whether they’re on their bellies enjoying tummy time or you hold the mirror up to their face. You can also clip on the cards so your baby can view some interesting designs. Bonus: This toy can grow with your little one until they are sitting up,” says Healthline.
5. Lamaze Clip & Go Stroller Toys
Motherhood Community says Freddie the Firefly meets the mark when it comes to interest and versatility! “This soft toy also doubles as a teether and an on-the-go activity center. It features a baby-safe mirror hidden in the firefly’s wing and a clip to attach the toy to your baby’s car seat, stroller, crib, or diaper bag. The firefly toy also has bright, colorful parts with different patterns, stripes, and colors.”
Babylist names Lamaze Clip & Go Stroller Toys among the best toys for babies, writing, “These toys easily attach to strollers and car seats for lots of fun on the go.”
WonderBaby likes the many bright design options of this multifaceted baby toy: “Choose from several different options, including a firefly, squid, koala, or jellyfish.” Let’s not forget the moose, octopus, llama, dragon, peacock, bear, rooster, dog, doll, tractor, orange, apple, banana and corn. Corn? Whew!
We can’t wait to hear which toys you choose for baby’s first playtime. Let us know in the comments below!
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- Verywell Family
- What to Expect
- The Spruce
- Motherhood Community
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