As a newborn, your baby might not show too much interest in baby toys, no matter how bright or noisy they may be, but fast forward a couple of weeks and they definitely will. As your baby becomes more alert, they’ll start to engage in their environment and enjoy looking at bright or high-contract colours, and listening to music.
How can baby toys help my baby's cognitive and physical development?
Of course, these toys aren’t just designed to look cute, they’ll help your baby’s development in a number of different ways:
- Developing sense of touch: The soft, cuddly toys designed for newborns will often be a lovely texture, that your baby will enjoy reaching out and touching.
- Developing listening skills: From around two-months-old, you’ll notice your baby will enjoy playing with soft rattles. It’s also a good idea to calm a grumbly baby with a cot mobile.
- Tummy time: From around three to four months, your baby will begin trying to grasp things around them. As their strength increases, encourage them to try and lift their heads during tummy time. Now is a good time to introduce a play mat, with plenty of different toys for your baby to engage with.
- Developing cause-and-effect: By around five-months-old, your baby will be starting to learn about cause-and-effect – if I hit this, it will make a noise, if I push this, it will move. Now is a good time to introduce musical toys.
- Developing hand-eye co-ordination: This develops at around six months old, so toys that involve your baby putting one object on or in another are great.
- Developing social skills: From around seven-months-old, your baby will start enjoying social interaction more. To help develop skills and ease any separation anxiety, use peek-a-boo toys that reassure your little one that even though something disappears, it comes back.
The best baby toys to buy:
To help you work out which baby toys are the best to buy, we’ve summed up our top picks:
If there’s one thing on your mind in those first few months with a newborn, it’s sleep! Luckily, there’s plenty of baby toys designed to help this. Ollie the Owl can be used from birth and is a soft toy, with four different in-built tunes, a nightlight and a cry sensor, which plays music to your baby if they wake during the night. It’s a lifesaver – not only does it look adorable, it’s very huggable and soothes even the most restless baby.
A great little all-rounder, Philip the Pelican has a number of different features that make him a best buy. With multiple colours and patterns for visual development, textures for tactile development, a peek-a-boo mirror for facial recognition and an opening beak aiding cause and effect learning, Philip also has a handy hook, making him great for clipping to the car seat or pushchair on the move. He’s safe from birth and will keep your baby entertained for months.
This soft, adorable Bunny Soother is perfect for your newborn baby. It’s a light colour whilst their eyes are still developing, and is made from a lovely tactile fabric for your baby to develop their senses. It’s suitable from birth, and strong enough to survive the test of time as your baby’s best friend.
A natural rubber teething toy that looks adorable, Gertie the Good Goose has been designed to fit perfectly in little hands! Soothing tender gums, your baby will love chewing on Gertie’s feet, tails and beak to relieve any teething pain. Suitable from birth, as well as being a teether Gertie makes a cute squeaking sound which helps develop cause and effect skills, and is a nice orange colour aiding visual development. Our panel of mum testers also loved how easy Gertie was to find in the car seat.
A toy that will last your baby a while, the Learn and Groove Musical Table from LeapFrog is a great investment. Suitable from six months, the colourful instruments and buttons activate a number of different songs and tunes, whilst teaching your baby about numbers, shapes and colours. It also has a French mode, which is great if you’re planning on teaching your tot a second language. Our panel of mum testers loved this toy, and the option to add legs – encouraging your tot to stand up and play as they get older.
A baby playmat is a great investment for your baby. Not only can you use it for tummy time, most will have a mobile full of bright, interactive toys, encouraging your baby to reach out and grab them. This playmat might seem expensive, but it grows with your child and can be used from birth till around 18-months-old. It’s got plenty of different colours and sounds to interact with, and encourages the development of fine and gross motor skills from birth to toddlerhood. We’ve taken a look at some of the other best baby playmats here.
These bright little musical rings will keep your baby entertained for hours, both at home and on the go. They are colourful and chunky, with each ring providing different sounds and textures for your baby to engage with. Easy for little hands to hold, the musical rings are suitable from three-months-old. Our panel of mum testers also found the rings to be super durable, withstanding the inevitable falls from the highchair!
As always with toys from Lamaze, this is far more than just a rattle! Freddie the Firefly is full of surprising features your baby will love, with his soft fabric head, with ribbon fillers, his colourful rotating wings and a see-through pod your baby can gaze at. The high-contract patterns are also perfect for developing your little one’s vision.
It might be more expensive than other mobiles on the market, but will last your baby until they are three-years-old. It has three different musical categories – nature, classic or lullabies, and nine different tunes and rotating characters on the ceiling. Once your baby outgrows the hanging toys, it converts into a music box and projector, then a bedside lamp with starry night projector. It’s super soothing, and in our opinion, worth the price tag.
A rubber duck with a difference, the Hevea Kawan Rubber Duck has no holes to let mould in. It’s easy for little hands to grip, it’s super hygienic for bathtime and it doubles up as a teether, killing two birds (or ducks?) with one stone! This cute rubber duck is suitable from birth and made from 100% natural rubber.