Baby toys help to teach tiny humans about their new world. The best baby toys come in all shapes and textures and entice a little one to stretch, crawl, grab and touch. This type of play is vital to developing a child’s motor and cognitive skills— encouraging babies to explore their environment.
Many baby toys incorporate lights and music to get an infant’s attention. Now, a new study finds babies enjoy live music just as much as adults do. Scientists at the University of Toronto report that while watching a live performance of a “baby opera,” infants’ heart rates synchronized, and were significantly more engaged than other babies who watched an identical recording of the same show.
These results indicate that even infants feel the influence of attending a live show, through musicians’ interactions with an audience and the social experience of being in a crowd. Professor Laura Cirelli, assistant professor in the department of psychology at U of T Scarborough and co-author of the study explains that at certain moments during the performance, a calm would sweep over the babies. Meanwhile, at other times, when a change in pitch or vocal riff occurred for example, all the babies would become excited simultaneously.
When choosing baby toys, it’s important to consider ones that fit both a child’s age and level of development. That’s why StudyFinds put together a list of the top brands from ten expert websites, to find the best toys for your baby. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!
The List: Best Baby Toys, According to Experts
BabyGearLab crowns this play gym the overall best, adding that “the mat has five development zones (learning to focus, making sounds, exploring how things feel, hiding and finding, and colors). You can control what you would like your baby to experience by unfolding any zone or folding them up to help prevent overstimulation.”
It features four detachable activity toys and four sets of cards. Plus, “the play space converts into a baby play mat and fort for toddlers,” notes Motherhood Community. One potential drawback? This play gym doesn’t fold, so make sure you have the space for it.
This tummy time activity toy is a hit with reviewers. “Because of its shape, the mirror stands up so a baby can play with it while they’re laying on their stomach. And it’s soft, so they won’t hurt themselves on any sharp corners,” according to New York Magazine.
“The cute toy has a little monkey and a colorful palette, but your newborn will likely focus on the faces they see in the mirror at first. As they grow, they may enjoy reaching toward the crinkly leaves,” adds POPSUGAR.
Kidspot suggests, “this angled mirror toy is a perfect option for tummy time or for sitting practice with your six-month-old bub. The large baby-safe mirror will help them discover their sweet little smile for the first time, and also folds flat for easy storage when it’s not in use.”
WonderBaby.org calls this one of the best toys for babies because, “this toy will grow with your baby. If you’re planning ahead and looking for something that will last from birth through the toddler years, this is the best option.”
Reviewers highlight this playmat’s versatility. It features five repositionable toys including a self-discovery mirror, elephant teether, crinkle panda, lion rattle & monkey cymbal clackers. “Fun for newborns on up, this easy-to-assemble toy is appropriate for so many phases of newborn development. Use it as a playmat, a kick-at musical instrument, and then later a piano for sitting babies,” suggests Verywell Family.
“Whether the baby is lying on their back or stomach, they can use their feet to play the little keyboard at the base of the gym, or look up at the adjustable toy arch, or even sit up when they’re able,” according to New York Magazine.
“Babies love activity cubes that allow them to learn and explore, like this VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube. This one is loaded with interactive features like buttons and spinners that will keep your baby’s attention and boost sensory development,” notes WonderBaby.org.
It features volume control, and an automatic shut-off to help conserve battery life. “The five sides all play to a different skill; some sides light up, others play music when buttons slide to the side, and some do both,” adds Woman’s Day. Plus, it’s small enough to take with you to a playdate.
Last on our list, is a popular teething toy. “The adorable giraffe is flexible and easy for tiny hands to hold on to—plus, gently squeaks when squeezed. And for your peace of mind, the teether is made from natural rubber and food-grade paints that are BPA-, PVC- and phthalate-free,” points out The Bump.
You might also be interested in:
- Motherhood Community
- New York Magazine
- Verywell Family
- Woman’s Day
- The Bump
- Expert Reviews
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.