Toys, toys everywhere — but which ones should you choose? Some have bright lights and music, others are colorful and super sensory, and the options go on (and on).
If you take a trip down the toy aisle at your local big box store, you may be totally and understandably overwhelmed. While many packages detail ages and stages, you may still wonder what’s truly best for the little ones in your life.
Well, you can breathe a sigh of relief. We’ve got you covered from toys that suit the youngest babies to ones that will grow with your child as they move and groove into their toddler years.
Best baby toys for 3 to 6 months
Your little one may start rolling over, reaching and grabbing, and babbling sometime between 4 and 6 months. Toys for this age should support these milestones, as well as other developing motor skills, like improved hand-eye coordination and — a biggie! — being able to sit upright unassisted (which may happen around their 6-month birthday, just FYI).
Safe to use from birth, this smart little rattle helps your baby hone their grasping and visual tracking skills with a light-up smiley face on one end and a mirror on the other.
The rest of the body is bumpy for tactile stimulation and contrasting black and white.
It was designed by a mom and early intervention specialist and comes with a booklet describing different ways to use it throughout your baby’s first year.
While this toy says it’s for ages 6 months and up, babies slightly younger are getting the hang of grasping things as well. (They grow fast, right?)
The cool thing about this ball set is that each one is a different color, shape, and texture. This excites your baby’s tactile senses and keeps them going back for more play. These BPA-free balls are great as your baby gets a bit older and starts chomping on everything during teething.
This musical cube is just the right play height (just under 6 inches) for babies who are learning to sit upright. It features instrument sounds of the harp, French horn, piano, flute, and violin in combination to make eight Mozart compositions.
The cube is bright colors, like yellow, green, and purple, and the side lights can also make the tempo faster.
Here are some tips for choosing a toy:
- Try choosing toys that promote imagination and interaction. Added points if you can find toys that help your child work on things like fine motor or gross motor skills.
- Understand that one of the biggest dangers with toys is choking hazards. Things that are choking hazards for babies include coins, marbles, toys that can be compressed by a baby’s mouth, small balls, button batteries, beads, and balloons.
- Check packaging or descriptions for age ranges on toys. Most will give you a general guideline for the ages it’s intended to suit. Beyond that, try using common sense. (That toy drone you put in your cart may be more for you than for your 5-month-old baby.)
- Don’t be too concerned with toys marketed for educational purposes. The goal for babies isn’t to drill them with ABCs or facts. Instead, it’s to give opportunities for interaction and bonding.
- Include plenty of books. These will help with building imagination and thought.
- Keep an eye out for toys that may promote stereotypes. These may be related to gender or race.
While there are many toys on this list, rest assured that your baby doesn’t need every gadget and gizmo to be happy and healthy.
Toys can certainly aid in development and make life fun, but resist getting lured by flashy features or marketing promises (for example, your baby likely won’t be recognizing letters or numbers in the first year). Sometimes the simplest toys are the best choices and the most loved by children.
Beyond that, toys are built for bonding. So, get down on the ground and start playing with your baby!