Toy Time

What appears as a simple toy to you and me is actually a wild sensory experience to a baby that helps him or her learn more about his world, says Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care.

Toys help babies learn how to move their limbs and control their reflexes. They expose your baby to new ideas, sights and sounds and they help her master new skills, like moving or stacking objects.

Most parents agree that too many toys can be overwhelming. The best practice seems to be to choose sturdy, safe, quality toys and offer a few at a time in a toy box, routinely rotating them with other toys you have stashed in a closet or high shelf away from baby’s exploration.

Books, rattles and squeaky toys in high-contrast colors are best for young babies, says Pantley, while older babies will enjoy chunkier toys like balls, blocks and playthings that stack and nest.

With so many toy recalls and concerns over lead in toys manufactured in China in recent years, you may want to consider “eco-friendly” or “green” toys made from sustainable materials and produced without harmful chemicals, plastics or paints and in ways that don’t impact the environment.

Toy Time: Top toys for every age

0-6 Months 6-12 Months 12-24 Months
Inspiration Plan Toys rattle mobile HABA Corella Clutching Toy Toys ‘R’ Us giraffe walker/sorter
How you can help Until baby can sit up and grasp things on her own, toys for newborns are all about watching and listening. Choose musical toys or toys that move to engage baby’s senses. Talk to baby about the toys; she’s learning language each time you speak to her. Now that baby can sit up and reach for things, it’s time to expand her world with toys that raise a reaction. Let her bang toy pots and pans or shake car keys (don’t use your own keys in case they contain lead in the paint or metal). Baby may now choose a favorite stuffed animal as a comforter. If baby’s not walking yet, he soon will be. Toys that help baby find his balance and move are popular with the toddler set.
Types of Toys
  • Mobiles
  • Soft books with high-contrast images and patterns
  • Sensory toys that light up or squeak
  • Wrist or ankle rattles
  • Baby-safe crib mirrors (these attach to the sides)
  • Stuffed animals or dolls (look for sewn, not plastic eyes)
  • Cloth or board books with flaps and sensory inserts
  • Soft or hard blocks for stacking, rolling and throwing
  • Rolling toys
  • Sensory toys that move on their own and play music
  • Push and pull toys
  • Walkers
  • Sensory bouncers or exersaucers
  • Toys that mimic adult devices, like phones and remotes
  • Books with flaps that pull out or pop-ups
  • Shape-sorting and nesting or stacking toys
  • Musical toys

Toy Time: We have other toy-related articles that you may like; Get Safe, Eco-Friendly Toys is a good place to start. Tech trends; how smart is your baby’s nursery and Hit These Milestones are also both well worth a read. Remember to check back at our news section to keep up to date with any product recalls.


The Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) promotes the health of women and newborns.

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