This list of toys has been put together in response to requests from the Baby Toy Guide. While that piece was more general as to type of toys to look for, this piece lists some of the favorites available today. If you’re planning to give any of these as gifts, check with the parents first to make sure you’re not duplicating something already in their house.
Good from birth on up, the Musical Inchworm is a good early toy for younger babies. It’s made of soft velour and designed to have many textures and bright color patterns for baby to explore. With you babies in mind, it is safe to chew on and has different sound toys built into the different segments of its body. It also plays “If You’re Happy and You Know It” when you squeeze its head.
Play gyms are versatile and usable from within the first month of life. This play gym offers not only the dangling toys, but it also has a battery-powered sun that attaches to it. When turned on, the sun flashes lights and plays short little snippets of popular children songs like “Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me,” and “Alouette.” The makers were thinking ahead, because the music automatically shuts off after a while, ensuring that you don’t drain your batteries entertaining an empty room once you’ve had to pick up a fussy baby and leave.
This playmat uses lots of bright and contrasting colors in its design and toys, depicting animals like pandas, lions, kangaroos, parrots and penguins. The cartoon-type animals, as well as photos of actual animals, help distract baby when it’s time to do tummy time. It incorporates several different types of toys and has lots of extra cloth tabs from which you can hang additional favorites of your child.
The Around the World Play Gym is also great portable entertainment. The bendable arms can swivel towards one another, creating an over-the shoulder carrying handle, and the mat can either stay attached to the base, or be removed and rolled up to fit into a bag. The removability also makes cleaning the mat a breeze. Simply remove the base from the hooks and toss it into the washing machine.
Lamaze makes great toys for babies, they are all designed with development in mind. While Lamaze makes many great animal toys for babies, Mortimer made the list.
Like all of the Lamaze animals, Mortimer isn’t just a stuffed animal. He has bells, a rattle and crinkle paper in his feet which little ones love as they start to explore sound and cause and effect. His legs are floppy, which allow them to be easily grabbed and manipulated by little hands. His “tail” is made of two plastic rings, again great for little hands to be able to grab and shake him.
Mortimer wears a scarf, and babies love grabbing such “tags.” Aside from his soft and fuzzy brown fur, Mortimer is brightly colored. His eyes and mouth are embroidered so there is no choking hazard, and his big purple antlers are designed to be teethers. He also comes with his own clip, which makes him perfect for dangling from a playmat or being clipped to a diaper bag so mom has ready for of entertainment.
Most babies hate tummy time, but they also love looking at their reflection. So, in a stroke of genius, Lamaze created a baby mirror that can be used during tummy time. The mirror is made from a plyable reflective plastic, so there is no risk of a broken mirror. Then, they framed the mirror in bright cloth, and attached it with tabs to a cloth-covered foam wedge. The result is a safe mirror that that can be put on the ground in a number of different angles to accommodate your baby whether he’s sitting, on his tummy, or practicing rolling over.
The mirror magnifies your baby’s face enough, so that it can be clearly seen from a little distance, and unlike many of the other safety mirrors, there is minimal distortion of the reflection if any. By placing the mirror in front of your baby while he’s on his tummy, he will be so distracted by his reflection that more time will pass before he starts to protest.
The Chewbie is a wonderful melding of many different toys that result in a baby favorite. Take the animal-headed security blankets that have overwhelmed the market, make the animal a little smaller as to be manageable by a 3 month-old, give it arms that are just the right size for tiny hands to hold, and then add fun things to the corners of the blanket, and you have a Chewbie.
The stuffed animal is situated in the center of the blanket so it looks like it’s wearing a dress. Of the 4 corners of the blanket, one has a rattle, one has a triangular plastic ring, one has a knotted tag, and the last have a rubber teether. Aside from making it easy to grab for a baby, the triangular ring makes a great place to slip a clip through and attach it to the side of a stroller or car seat.
Unlike so many of the larger blanket animals, this one is small enough to be easily handled by a young baby. Being that it is intended to go into the mouths of little ones, the facial features are embroidered to prevent any choking hazard, and the many textures give baby a tactile world to explore.
The Fisher-Price Rainforest Kick ‘N Play Piano is designed to look like a short segment of a piano with rainforest animals adorning the sides. It has five jumbo keys that, when kicked or hit, play a short tune. In coordination with the music, there are a handful of small lights that flash, and at the end of the tune an animal makes a sound. Whether it’s the ribbit of a frog or the chirp of a bird, the sound adds a little surprise at the end of the tune.
Unlike many musical toys that just entertain baby with unprompted lights and sounds, this toy required interaction from the baby in order to produce any effects, thus teaching cause and effect. Once your baby has had a chance to get familiar with the different song the piano plays on each key, you will notice that he has favorites and as you hear some more than others.
This is a great toy that can be either tied to the side of a crib or placed flat on the ground. Placing it in the crib is best for younger babies who can’t sit up yet, as they have more control over their feet and can entertain themselves. When in the crib, it creates an environment where the baby can safely play with unsupervised, which may just afford mom enough time to jump into the shower, empty the dishwasher, or cook dinner.
It’s also small and light-weight enough that it can easily be thrown into a duffle bag and taken on trips.
The saying goes, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” and Sophie the Giraffe’s manufacturers have taken that to heart. She’s been exactly the same since 1961.
There’s a good reason Sophie has been around for so long. Whether He’s teething or not, somewhere around 3 months everything goes into baby’s mouth. He is learning about his world through his senses, including sense of taste. Sophie was made with this baby tendency in mind.
Sophie was specifically designed to stimulate all five of baby’s developing senses. The spots on a giraffe are high contrast, which is great for the limited visually spectrum and acuity of a 3 month-old. Sophie squeaks when she’s squeezed. She’s made of all natural rubber and food paint, so she’s made to go into a baby’s mouth, and the rubber also has a distinctive scent. Finally, the long neck and legs of a giraffe are perfect for little hands to grab onto, and she’s light enough for a young baby to manipulate.
For parents, this is a great toy since you don’t have to worry about the safety of it going into your baby’s mouth - no lead paint here. And Sophie is easy to clean. Just throw her in the sink with a little dish soap and rinse.
Once baby can get a grip on his toys, his next favorite game is to drop them. The Melissa and Doug Bug Jug Fill and Spill capitalizes on this form of play. Starting around 6 months, this is a great toy.
The jug comes with four plush bugs, and not ones that are creepy. They are brightly colored, friendly-faced animals: a grasshopper, a ladybug, a spider, and a butterfly. Each toy makes a different sound, either a jingle, a rattle, a crinkle, or a squeak, and there are lots of legs to grab. It also helps develop hand-eye coordination as baby tries to get the bugs in and out of the jug.
There is a mesh lid to help contain all the “bug buddies” when not being played with, which also makes this a great to-go toy.
Once your baby has a little more upper body control (manufacturer suggests 4 months or older), it might be time to graduate from the bouncy seat to a jumper. There are many out there on the market, but the Evenflo combines the compact nature of a Johnny-Jump-Up with toys contained on the larger floor jumpers.
The Jump & Go is suspended in a doorway so you don’t have to find space for another toy with a large footprint. The height can be adjusted to accommodate baby as he grows and get longer.
It also combines the toy element that the larger floor jumpers have, but not as many so it’s not overwhelming, leaving the focus on developing those tiny leg muscles. Spinning and bouncing in this jumper distract babies for longer periods of time, giving mom and dad some hands free time.
This is rated for babies up to 24lbs, so if you have a heavier baby, you may not get as much use out of it as those parents with smaller children. Just like any mobile toy, babies should be supervised when in the jumper and not left unattended.
LeapFrog Learn & Groove Alphabet Drum (Bilingual English/Spanish)
As baby starts to develop his motor skills, one of the first things he love to do is bang on things. Used upright, the drum is the perfect toy to practice those banging skills and help with motor skill development. Each tap of the drum produces an effect, whether it is introducing your baby to the alphabet or playing music, thus teaching him cause and effect. With three modes – alphabet, music, and dance – baby is sure to be engaged and to learn.
Once your baby has figured out rolling over, it’s onto crawling, and what better motivation is there then trying to reach a toy? Turned on its side, the drum is a rolling toy that lights up, and its roll-along song entices baby to crawl to reach the drum to make the song continue.
For parent sanity, there is a volume control, and it automatically switches off if it hasn’t been used in a while to save battery life. It gets extra points for being bilingual, using both English and Spanish.
The manufacturer states this is a good toy for 6 months to 3 years, but really, as soon as your child can sit this becomes a good option.
The best part about all these toys is that they have been made to specifically address baby’s development in key areas. So you know with any of these options that the toy you get is doing more than just entertaining your child. It’s helping them develop new skills as well.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.