When your little one is under six months, your baby might not show too much interest in baby toys, no matter how bright or noisy they may be, but fast forward a few weeks and they definitely will so you may want to think about choosing toys for them. As your baby becomes more alert, they’ll start to engage in their environment and enjoy looking at bright colours with high-contrast, and listening to music.
How can baby toys help my baby's cognitive and physical development?
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 which is great for child development. Now is a good time to introduce musical toys.
Developing fine motor skills: This involves using the smaller muscle of your little one's hands and is commonly in activities including using pencils or construction.
Developing hand-eye coordination: 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.
According to Dr. Amanda Gummer from www.goodplayguide.com, toys are great for your newborn's development.
'The right toys are great for newborns - they stimulate baby's senses and make the adults and other children in the room more inclined to be playful and interact with the baby. They can help children develop skills and interact with the world around them.'
12 of the best baby toys for 6 months and under:
To help you work out which baby toys are the best to buy, we’ve summed up our top picks:
The best baby toy to help your baby sleep: Ollie the Owl
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.
Review: "This is an amazing product and much better priced than some of the others. I would really recommend it. Wish I had bought it for my first two children and would have had much better sleep.
"It makes white noise, water sounds, calming music and a heartbeat sound. They are all quite good but the white noise is great to help sleep in the night. It also has 3 volume settings for each sound."
The best baby toy for on-the-go fun: Sprinkles The Jellyfish
A great little all-rounder, Sprinkles The Jellyfish has a number of different features that make him a best buy. Brightly coloured with patterns for visual development and different textures for tactile development. Sprinkles The Jellyfish 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.
Review: "I love these toys and Sprinkles The Jellyfish is very fun. Great colours and textures. Good quality. Good clip for fixing to the pushchair."
The best baby toy to comfort your baby: Jellycat Bredita Bunny Soother
After a soft toy for your little one? This 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, is machine washable and is strong enough to survive the test of time as your baby’s best friend.
Review: "This bunny is the second one I bought for my baby. She uses it as a comforter during every nap and bedtime. When one is chewed enough times, it goes in the wash and is replaced by the second bunny which she takes with no problems.
"My baby loves holding and looking at it, shaking it, chewing and covering her face with the bunny, and she doesn't get bored of it although we have had it since she was born. Excellent!"
The best baby toy for music under £20: Halilit Musical Rings
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!
Review: "Bought these after seeing them win a vote for one of the best baby toys - my twins love them - thought they were too big to grab but at 6 months they’re managing just fine! Bright colours, nice and noisy- perfect rattles - I’m impressed!"
The best baby rattle toy: Lamaze Freddie the Firefly Rattle Baby Toy
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 bright colours and high-contrast patterns are also perfect for developing your little one’s vision.
'Playing with different textures encourages curiosity and strengthens hand and finger strength (known as fine motor control). Holding Freddie close to little ones encourages them to reach out and grasp for the toy, improving hand-eye coordination and arm strength.' Says Dr. Amanda.
Review: "I bought this when my baby was 4.5 months and she absolutely loves playing with it. When lying on her back (or sides) she would play with this toy for 45 minutes non-stop by herself. It can be held with one or with both hands and baby enjoys the instant crinkling noise of the wings."
The best baby toy for the cot: Tiny Love Magical Night Mobile
It might be more expensive than other mobiles on the market but it 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 a starry night projector. It’s super soothing, and in our opinion, worth the price tag.
Review: "We bought this mobile before our daughter was born. She loved it from day one and was very interested in looking at it. After three months of playing with it literally every day (at least once a day) she still loves it and hasn't gotten bored with it."
The best baby activity gym: Skip Hop Activity Gym
This play gym and activity mat has lots of sensory toys to keep babies entertained, with a mix of music, noises, movement, lights and colours. This sensory stimulation helps capture baby’s attention, improving concentration. The mirror also develops emotional understanding, as babies can see their expressions (such as their smiles).
Review: "I wanted to purchase an activity gym for my baby, so had a look online. What I mainly wanted was something that can grow with my baby and have lots of eye-catching parts, with movement and sound. Upon an extensive search online I found this skip hop activity gym.
"It came with a heavy price tag compared to others on the market. However this one had so much going for it. The vibrant colours and the arch seemed really big with the ability to be used when the baby can sit up too."
The best baby blocks: Galt Toys Baby Soft Blocks
Young children love throwing the blocks and knocking over stacks. Knocking over the towers is accessible to very young children as it doesn’t require much coordination and can teach very young children cause and effect. As they get a bit older, they can try stacking the blocks themselves developing their coordination and muscle control.
Review: "This is the third set of these blocks that I have bought: the first set was for my first grandson, back in 2007. He loved them and they were passed on to his younger brother.
"The second set live at my house for visiting children. This most recent set was a birthday gift for a boy of one. They are perfect for little ones."
The best baby playset: Infantino Baby's 1st Playset
This box set of baby toys contains 11 colourful toys, including blocks, characters, balls and wheels, and vehicles. Your baby will love exploring the shapes and textures, and the colours will excite them once they're beyond the black-and-white vision stage.
Review: "Nice and bright colours and different textures for my little boy to play with and explore. Also like that there’s balls, cubes, cars and figures to play with."
The best baby board book: Peter Rabbit Finger Puppet Book
This sweet finger puppet book features Beatrix Potter's classic character, Peter Rabbit. The simple counting book comes with a cleverly stitched in soft finger puppet of Peter Rabbit that will really help you to bring storytime alive.
Review: "I love Beatrix Potter and this is a very cute little book for babies and toddlers. My girl loves the wiggly rabbit and tries to grab him all the time. She's not too interested in the drawings yet but she will be as she gets older."
The best baby shape sorter: Fisher-Price Baby's First Blocks
These Fisher-price building blocks help to introduce your baby to colours and shapes and includes ten colourful blocks to stack and sort. The easy-carry handle means you can take the fun anywhere for take-along play.
Review: "This product is possibly smaller than I was expecting, but that is not a problem for my 9-month-old granddaughter. You get 2 of every shape and she loves knocking them together, letting me build a tower of shapes so she can knock them down and put them in and out of the container."
The best baby teething toy: Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy
This unique toy features a mesmerizing maze of soft, BPA-free teething tubes. It can even be refrigerated for additional soothing comfort.
Review: "Gave this on Christmas day and my nephew (7 months) immediately loved it. The shape makes it perfect to hold and there's a nice range of textures to feel with the mouth and chew on."