At least once a week, I get asked “What toys are good for babies?” and “How do I choose toys that help my baby’s development?”
Having so many options to choose from can be incredibly overwhelming, and chances are, after wading through the sea of toys available and finally choosing something you think your baby will like, they’re more interested in the packaging it came in than the toy itself.
More often than not, many of the toys you have at home just end up collecting dust in a corner because your baby has little to no interest in it. Think cluttered space and money wasted.
Would it be helpful if you had an idea of what to look for when choosing toys that are fun and engaging for your baby? What if these baby toys could grow with your little one so you don’t have to constantly buy new toys at each new developmental stage?
Below are my top 10 ECE recommended baby toys.
- Toys that are engaging and educational without being overstimulating.
- Toys that will keep your baby’s attention for longer than 10 seconds.
- Toys that can help your baby develop early executive function skills (ie. focusing attention, problem solving)
1. Life-size baby doll 2. Personalized photo book 3. Sensory balls | Whiffle balls
4. Beach ball 5. Stack & roll cups 6. Montessori wooden toy set
7. Stainless steel sauce cups | Wooden spoons | Mini silicone bowls
8. Musical instruments 9. Ball pool 10. Rainbow wooden sound blocks
1. Life-size baby doll: Babies love other babies, and this realistic looking life-size doll offers your baby the chance to practice socialization. Non-mobile babies can have a buddy to practice tummy time with. Mobile babies can practice being gentle with the doll. You may even catch your baby chatting up the doll or even giving it kisses.
Tip: Size matters! Choose a doll that is at least 20" so it actually looks and feels real to your baby.
2. Personalized photo book: Drool-proof, durable, and easy to clean. This book has clear pockets for you to create your own picture book. Young babies under 4 months will love the high contrast patterns on each page. Older babies loooove looking at pictures of family members or familiar items, and it's also a great way to foster early literacy skills.
3. Sensory balls | Whiffle balls: Balls. Balls. Balls. This one is an ALL-TIME favourite for babies. Look for balls with different textures and of different sizes. This is a great toy to promote movement and coordination, no matter if your little one is at the stage of rocking on all fours but not quite crawling yet, or a full-on mover and shaker.
4. Beach ball: Adding on to #3, beach balls are light weight and can be adjusted to match your baby's developmental stage. For non-mobile babies, don't inflate the ball completely so it's easier to grip and grasp and so it won't roll too far away out of reach which can be incredibly frustrating for littles. For crawling babies, the fully inflated ball will be a challenge to catch so babies will get a chance to practice problem solving, persistence and patience.
5. Stack & roll cups: Stacking cups, nesting cups, balls, shaker, bowls.....this one toy can be played with in so many ways it will keep your baby occupied for a long time. Combine this toy with other items like a scarf and thread the scarf through the hole in the cup, or hide the scarf inside 2 cups snapped together like a ball for your baby to play hide and seek.
6. Montessori wooden toy set: Natural wood and different parts to manipulate and grip/grasp, this set is a great toy for practicing fine motor skills.
7. Stainless steel sauce cups | Wooden spoons | Mini silicone bowls: Small kitchen items with different textures are another all-time favourite for babies. Stubby wooden spoons help babies practice hand-eye coordination as they venture into the world of solid foods, and stainless steel cups not only offer a fun reflective surface but the cool steel is also great for teething.
8. Musical instruments: Babies love hearing different sounds, and musical instruments that are see-through helps babies see where the sound is coming from as they work on coordinating their body to play music.
9. Ball pool: A mini kiddie pool filled with balls is endless hours of fun. Choose an inflatable pool that is low enough for non-mobile babies to do some tummy time on, and for crawlers and walkers to get in and out of on their own to promote independence. Add in some water with a couple of floating balls and you've got an entirely new toy (with supervision of course!).
10. Rainbow wooden sound blocks: Colours, sounds and textures. This set of blocks offers an array of sensory stimulation. Younger babies can use each individual block as a shaker. Older babies can practice stacking/banging them together and exploring the rainbow of colours for added visual stimulation.
Hopefully that gives you some ideas on what babies can and will do with these toys. The brilliant thing about these 10 baby toy recommendations is that they can grow with your baby as they find more complex uses for each item when they reach a new developmental stage.
If you're still looking for more, I've got a BONUS GUIDE describing the 4 things to look for when choosing brain stimulating toys so that you can make an informed decision without being worried whether your baby is getting anything out of playing with it.