I’ve seen a lot on the internet about what are the best baby toys out there to buy. There are so many cute, fun, flashy toys…why wouldn’t we want them all? Parents will recommend what their babies like or liked, and every toy manufacturer will tell you how their products are the best. But what makes a toy the “best” toy for your baby? As a pediatric physical therapist, I will help you pick toys that are truly best for your baby’s physical and intellectual development.
Babies need to move to learn.
From birth to six months of age, babies are working on laying down the foundation for physical development, which will then allow for cognitive development. In other words, babies need to move to learn. They are learning about their environment through gravity, skin sensations, and vestibular input.(Think movement on a swing or roller coaster.) Newborn babies are very easily overstimulated by too much visual or auditory input (similar to how you as an adult might feel walking into Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us)
So here are a few of my recommendations, and why they are good for your baby ages 0-6 months. (PS–there are no affiliate links in this post.)
The 7 Best Baby Toys for 0-6 months:
Keep a variety of lightweight, breathable blankets with various textures. (The ones with taggies are a big hit.) Your baby will show you which textures they like that are soothing and interesting to them. Solid, pale/pastel colors are best.
2. Texture Toys
I think texture toys (including crinkle toys, taggies, etc.) are the best toys for babies when they are working on tummy time, or during diaper changes or when they are alone in their car seat in the car. If you are wanting to “occupy” or “entertain” an infant, give them a toy that develops their sense of touch rather than overstimulating them with bright sights and sounds.
Babies begin to use their hands to interact with their environment at around 3-5 months of age. Very simple, easy to grasp rattles go a long way. Keep colors and noises to a minimum. A quite rattle is all a baby needs to begin to understand cause and effect. When I move it, it rattles. When I grab it, it feels hard/soft/cold/heavy in my hand. I can bring it to my mouth to explore it even more.
If you’ve read 10 Reasons Pacifiers are Good for Babies, you know I’m a fan of pacifiers in the first 6 months of life. But, for convenience and portability, we are buying things to keep the pacifier attached to the baby. (Do you wash the paci after it falls on the floor, or do you brush off the dirt and stick it back in their mouth? Ha!) Leashes and clip on pacifier do-dads still make me a little nervous. The chances of strangulation are high with these. (I know, I’m a party pooper. But I don’t want anyone to have to go through the loss of a child if they can prevent it.) But I do love Pacimals! They are easy for baby to hold on to making it easier to get the pacifier into their mouth with less risk of dropping it. Win-win!
Teethers have existed since the beginning of time. These, too, can be very simple. A wet washcloth stored in the freezer goes a long way. But if you need something portable and convenient, find a few teethers with different textures that are easy for a new baby to hold on to.
I’m sure you’ve heard that newborns can see 8-18 inches from their face. That is by design, so babies can interact and bond with their primary caregivers. What they see is blurry, but they learn to discern human faces from any other object. Mirrors are nice for baby to be able to study their own face when mom, dad, brother or sister are not nearby. It’s easy to set up a cheap door mirror lengthwise against a wall or couch while baby is doing tummy time. But remember, too much visual input can be overstimulating. If they are looking away from the mirror or get fussy after looking at it for a little while, it’s time to take it away.
When babies are using both hands to interact with a toy (or bottle), they are developing midline orientation (the concept that the two halves of their brains and bodies meet in the middle to work together)
Have you seen a trend in my recommendations?
Yes! The simpler the baby toy, the better for their development! The images represent some examples of the types of toys I recommend. There are many toys out there that fit my descriptions. None of them are exactly what I think you should buy, except maybe Sophie the Giraffe. Every baby I know loves her!
Thanks for reading! Do you have any favorite toys that fit these descriptions and where do you buy them?