Best toys for babies

How to pick toys for babies

What should the best toy for babies do? Nothing at all.
World-renowned child therapist and infant specialist Magda Gerber once wrote that the last thing that parents need is to listen to the “frantic sales pitches for ‘new and better toys’ for ‘new and better babies’. The best toys for babies, she argued, aren’t toys that do anything – rather, they allow the child to interact with and influence the object, teaching them important lessons about the world.

“An active infant manipulates passive objects. In contrast, entertaining kinds of toys … cause a passive infant to watch an active toy.”

According to Gerber, children and babies should be allowed play patterns that enable them to develop naturally at their own pace. How? By encouraging spontaneity and a drive to learn and discover on their own.

Gerber, didn’t even like to call toys “toys”, but rather preferred to call them “play objects.” According to her, what is really important is that the child is manipulating an object – it doesn’t need lots of bells and whistles or flashing lights. In fact, these types of toys teach kids to expect to be amused and entertained, and may encourage later TV watching. Kids need an opportunity to explore items of different shapes, sizes, colors to encourage proper spacial reasoning and brain development.

“The best play objects for babies are those which allow them to be as active and competent as possible at every stage of development.”

Magda’s criteria: simple, sturdy and cleanable, and SAFE. (Source: Magda Gerber in Educaring, Spring 1986)

See our recommendations here:

Active Body Toys – Baby to Toddler

Ages 0-3 (Sensori-motor stage)
A period of rapid cognitive growth. Although 80% of brain development is already formed, sensory stimulation activities and kinesthetic learning promote additional brain and nervous system’s development

What’s important:
-toys that are easy to grasp, move, and manipulate
-toys that promote hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills and fine motor skills
-toys that engage active participation (rather than passive viewing

#10 – Rubbabu Naval Mine Ball
From the manufacturer:
” It’s knobby texture will feel good to the senses & easy to grasp, hold & throw.”
Why we love it:
The large, soft ball is tactile and easy for little hands to hold. Babies love the soft felted covering and the inside is all natural rubber.
Buy Rubbabu Mine Ball

#9 – Step2 All Star Sports Climber
From the manufacturer:
“Shoot, toss, climb and kick with the All Star Sports Climber.”
Why we love it:
This climber teaches children to toss, shoot, and kick at a young age. It’s a safe and easy challenge for young children that encourages them to stay active inside or out
Buy Step2 Climber

#8 – Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set
From the manufacturer:
“Bright colors and interesting textures make this fun ball set an imagination sensation! Perfect for sensory exploration and tactile development.”
Why we love it:
Touch and feel six uniquely textured balls in different shapes and sizes. Great for baby’s shape differentiation and developing visual acuity.
Buy Infantino Balls

#7 – Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether
From the manufacturer:
“Babies will love “Skwishing” it down and watching it return to its original shape – Skwish is a perfect clutching toy for developing gross motor skills.”
Why we love it:
This classic grasping activity toy is easy for little hands to grab, provides multi-sensory stimulation, and enhances gross motor skills.
Buy Skwish Rattle

#6 – OBall
From the manufacturer:
“It’s catchy! This flexible, bendable ball will quickly become baby’s favorite toy.”
Why we love it:
The Oball is soft and captivating for little hands – once they grasp it, they won’t want to put it down. Seriously.
Buy OBall

#5 – Kolcraft Tiny Steps 2-in-1 Activity Walker, Jubilee
From the manufacturer:
“The tiny steps 2-in-1 activity walker converts from a seated walker to a walk behind walker as baby grows.”
Why we love it:
We like that includes developmental activities to entertain baby and help develop motor skills, and that it folds flat! Since it easily converts from seated activity walker to a walk-behind walker, children get benefits from this set through multiple developmental stages.
Buy Tiny Steps Walker

#4 – Earlyears Roll ‘n Swirl Ball Ramp
From the manufacturer:
“Fun kids toys which will mesmerize your baby for hours as three whirly, swirly balls race down the multi-colored tower shoot.”
Why we love it:
A great way to encourage repeated play, and develop fine motor skills for any age.
Buy Ball Ramp

#3 – Green Toys Dump Truck
From the manufacturer:
“This award-winning, eco-designed toy truck has no metal axles and a workable dumper that encourages motor skill development.”
Why we love it:
Green Toys are made of food safe, 100% Recycled Plastic, dishwasher safe, and contain no BPA, phthalates, PVC, or external coatings.
Buy Green Toys Dump Truck

#2 – Earlyears Deluxe Fill ‘n Fun Water Mat Baby Toy
From the manufacturer:
“Inflate the outside border with air and the inner chamber with water. Perfect for tummy time and beyond!”
Why we love it:
This indoor energy burner allows babyes to play with water while staying dry. A great tummy time activity that keeps baby active and engages their senses.
Buy TummyTime Water Mat

#1 – Magic Reflection Ball
From the manufacturer:
Use the magic reflection ball to keep your child amused and stimulated – The convex shape sparks your child’s curiosity as their reflection constantly changes.
Why we love it:
The suction cup mount affixes to most flat surfaces and holds the Magic Reflection Ball in place while your child holds, pulls and climbs around to create added visual stimulation.
Buy Magic Reflection Ball

Active Mind Toys for Babies to Toddlers

How to Pick Toys for Ages 0-3 (Sensori-motor stage)
Looking for baby brain development toys? During this age range, children are in period of rapid cognitive growth. Although 80% of brain development is already formed, sensory stimulation activities and kinesthetic learning promote additional brain and nervous system’s development

What’s important in toys for this age:
-a large variety of colors and shapes
-toys that promote hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills and find motor skills
-toys that engage active participation (rather than passive viewing)

By providing your children with toys that are developmentally appropriate, you are helping to give them an early boost!

#10 – Hape Double Bubble
From the manufacturer:
“There’s always a new way to scoot around this endless maze. Zig, zag, zoom”
Why we love it:
Nesting beads demonstrate the concept of “inside/outside” and offer peek-a-boo fun
Buy Double Bubble

#9 – Magic Relection Ball
From the manufacturer:
Use the magic reflection ball to keep your child amused and stimulated – The convex shape sparks your child’s curiosity as their reflection constantly changes.
Why we love it:
The suction cup mount affixes to most flat surfaces and holds the Magic Reflection Ball in place while your child holds, pulls and climbs around to create added visual stimulation.
Buy Magic Relection Ball

#8 – Skwish
From the manufacturer:
“Classic, multi-sensory clutching rattle encourages grasping and reaching which are important for gross motor skills.”
Why we love it:
Skwish is easy for little hands to grab and hold on to while rattling the beads that slide back and forth.
Buy Skwish

#7 – Fat Brain SpinAgain
From the manufacturer:
“Instills a sense of wonder as kids watch their builds twirl and spin! Basic shapes provide a great hand and finger exercise – provides challenges to a child’s developing abilities.”
Why we love it:
This is a truly great toy for baby’s gross motor skills and brain development. A simple concept, but it will keep them entertained while they explore. Encourages hand-eye coordination and baby engineering skills.
Buy SpinAgain

#6 – Hape Shape Sorter Pull Along Turtle
From the manufacturer:
“This multi-tasking sorter encourages counting, sorting, and color and shape identification.”
Why we love it:
This is a great way for developing minds to build familiarity with colors and shapes. Develops fine and gross motor skills, stimulates imagination, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, matching and spatial relationships.
Buy Shape Sorter

# 5 – Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether
From the manufacturer:
“This mesmerizing maze of safe, soft, continuous tubes is perfect for a teething baby to chew on”
Why we love it:
Visually fascinating, and it promotes clutching and two-handed play. The pleasing rattle sound keeps babies soothed and engaged
Buy Sensory Rattle and Teether

#4 – Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
From the manufacturer:
“For generations babies have delighted in this classic stacking toy – helps babies develop coordination as they learn to stack the easy-to-grasp rings in the proper order.”
Why we love it:
Bright colors, shiny reflections and swirling beads stimulate visual development.
Buy Rock-a-Stack

#3 – Baby Einstein Bendy Ball
From the manufacturer:
“Soft, flexible plastic make this ball both durable and fun and the Bendy Ball’s design makes it easy for little fingers to grasp and roll.”
Why we love it:
An additional rolling tattle ball inside adds additional sounds and visual stimulation, making this toy more engaging for babies.
Buy Bendy Ball

#2 – Hape Creative Peg Puzzle
From the manufacturer:
“Stimulates children through every stage of development and help nurture and develop their natural abilities.”
Why we love it:
Develops fine and gross motor skills as well as stimulates imagination. It’s a bonus that Hape toys promote fair and ethical working practices.
Buy Creative Peg Puzzle

#1 – Squeeze and Stack Block Set
From the manufacturer:
“Fun colors, numbers, animals and shapes are soft and squeezable and BPA free.”
Why we love it:
These squeezeable blocks are great for imaginative exploration.
Buy Squeeze and Stack Block Set

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No aggregators or algorithms – all best toys for baby brain development are hand picked! Please make sure to confirm manufacturer recommended age and other warnings. We may receive commission from certain affiliate links, which allows you to support our site’s mission at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure here. We strive to bring you the best!