Best Baby Toys of 2021
Best Baby Toys of 2021
November 3, 2021

Best Baby Toys of 2021

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Best Baby Toys of 2021.
Photo by @msvaniarios
These colorful and simple toys can help kick off your baby's development and keep them entertained.Best Baby Toys of 2021

Do Babies Need Toys?

Newborns don’t actually need toys, since sleeping and eating are really their main interests. But around the three-month mark, many parents see their babies “wake up” and become more interested in the world around them; this is a great time to introduce them to fun toys and activities to help them with important development stages (and keep them entertained).

Which Kinds of Toys Should Babies Play With?

Realistically, babies are happy playing with household items like wooden spoons and plastic food containers, so don’t feel obligated to break the bank on toys. The best toys for babies have features that help with developing eyesight, fine motor skills and an ever-growing curiosity about their world—and, of course, are very safe.

Here are some features to consider when choosing toys for your little one:

  • Contrasting colors and patterns. A baby’s vision isn’t fully developed until they’re around five months old. To help them see and focus on objects, look for toys that have high contrast in colors and patterns; black and white is best for newborns (stripes, checkerboard, or simple images are easiest to focus on), while older babies love looking at brighter colors.
  • Varying soft textures. Toys with strips of satiny, velvety, rubbery, bumpy or fluffy material are an absolute delight for tiny, grabby fingers. Babies are working on their fine motor skills from about three months and up, and interesting textures make it super fun to develop those skills.
  • Safe for chewing. Babies want to put everything in their mouths. Everything. The time will eventually come when your curious bub will try to eat something not so great (pet food, a dirty rag, carpet fuzz, etc.), but you can make up for it by making sure some things are actually OK to gnaw, like toys and teethers that are free of harmful chemicals and made with one-piece construction (no small parts to break off and choke on).
  • Easy to clean. Toys that are machine washable and dishwasher safe are great when you don’t want to spend a ton of time washing toys by hand (we understand, you don’t want to be cleaning all day). It’s also a good idea to check if a toy has trouble drying all the way—plastic, silicone and rubber are especially susceptible to mold, so those toys should be thoroughly cleaned and dried fairly often.
  • Audible. Rattles, bells, crinkles, lullabies—if it makes a sound, your little one will pay attention to it. Babies love making things make noise, and you can encourage their curiosity with toys that respond audibly to their actions. They’ll be fully entertained if it jingles when they shake it or squeaks when they squeeze it (admit it, you may be a little entertained, too). And if your baby is Deaf or hard of hearing, they may still be able to sense vibrations or certain pitches of sound, so it’s a good idea to still experiment with audible toys.

A few fun and bright toys will come in handy to distract a fussy baby or make tummy time more enjoyable. Whether you are looking for simple hand held toys for play time or soothing amusement for bedtime, we have a variety of great picks for you to choose from.

Baby's First Subscription

The baby stage technically only lasts for 12 months (then they become toddlers), but a lot happens in that first year. Infants seem to move from developmental stage to developmental stage at the speed of light, but this subscription from Lovevery makes it easy to keep up. Your little one will receive one box full of toys chosen specifically for their current age and stage every other month, so you know their toys are always developmentally appropriate and will support the skills they’re ready to master, whether it’s grasping and object permanence or sorting and stacking. We especially love that the kits include toys made from sustainably sourced wood and use lots of organic materials. Keep in mind: Purchasing one order from the Babylist store will get you a six-month subscription (three boxes), so be sure to purchase two to get a full 12 months worth of toys.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0 months+

A High-Contrast Toy

From the newborn days up through about three or four months, babies’ eyesight isn’t fully developed to differentiate colors or low-contrast patterns, so it’s important to show them high-contrast (especially black and white) images to help them learn to focus their vision. These little panels feature exactly what the youngest babies need for their developing vision, but that’s not all—soft, squishy shapes, gentle crinkles and fun textures are also super useful for encouraging baby’s sense of touch and hearing. The small size of the panels makes them easy to toss your stroller or diaper bag, and you can either keep them separate for an individual experience or attach them to form a soft booklet.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0 months+
Dimensions 6.25” x 6.25” (2.5” when attached together as a booklet)

A Teether (with More!)

A teething toy is a must for any baby with new teeth coming in. The 100% food-grade silicone that this teether is made of is extra gentle on gums and can be chilled to relieve soreness. The teethers from Loulou Lollipop come in lots of different fun and whimsical designs, and we love the bonus feature of the beaded string that clips to clothes (so it won’t fall on the floor and get all yucky!).

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0+

Shape Sorter with a Twist

Shape sorters are a classic baby toy (you probably had one when you were little!) since they teach shapes, hand-eye coordination and problem solving—they’re basically baby’s first puzzle. There are dozens of different kinds out there, but this one adds the bonus of being eco-friendly. It’s made from recycled plastic milk jugs, so it’s extra durable, too.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months+
Dimensions 8” x 8” x 5.25”

An Open-Ended Toy

Stackers are another classic toy for babies, and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. There are lots of stacking toys out there with rings or blocks, but we love this one with arches for its potential to turn into other things! The 10 arches can stack together to make a rainbow, or they can become bridges and ramps for toy cars, see-saws and rocking chairs for dolls or laid out to create whatever design your little one can come up with. But the best part of this set in particular is that it’s made entirely of silicone, so it even works as a teether for babies with sore gums (or who just like to chew on things) and as a water-safe bath toy!

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0 months+
Dimensions 7.8” x 3.9” x 1.7” when stacked together

A Mirror

Babies love looking at other babies, and what better baby to look at than themselves? This soft-sided mirror isn’t fragile (it’s made from acrylic) and measures about one square foot, making it extremely portable. To help baby enjoy tummy time, lean the mirror against a wall or another object, or use the ties to hang it from a play gym or the side of a playard.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0+
Dimensions 14” x 10” x 0.25”

A Developmental Play Gym

A play gym is a must-have for making tummy time entertaining (and bearable) for baby, and thousands of parents love The Play Gym by Lovevery as their tummy time go-to because it’s backed by science and research. It’s designed by child development experts to include activities and play zones for each of baby’s developmental stages through the first 12 months, and even comes with a Play Guide with lots of ideas to help parents interact with baby, too.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0 months+
Dimensions 24” x 38” x 43” with mat zones closed; 24” x 50” x 47” with mat zones open

A Gentle Rattle

There’s no shortage of baby rattles out there, and most of them are made from harder materials or can have harsh sounds. That’s why we love the handmade rattles from Estella—the 100% organic cotton ensures that it’s gentle enough for even the youngest babies to wave around, and the chimes inside produce a soft, melodic jingle that won’t start to irritate grown-ups after only a few minutes. And just look at how cute and whimsical the designs are!

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0+

An All-In-One Toy

Technically an octopus, not a squid, Captain Calamari has eight knotted legs for your baby to touch and chew. Bright colors and a mirror stimulate vision, while a crinkly hat, clanking rings and a rattle engage baby’s ears. Designed to clip onto the playpen, stroller or carrier, this silly pirate is well-loved both at home and on the go. Lamaze makes lots of multi-sensory toys like this, including a firefly, a moose and a dragon.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Ages 0+
Dimensions 5” x 4” x 10”

A Rattle

Skip Hop’s cute little shakers come with an owl, hedgehog and fox that make original rattle sounds. Each character has a different textured belly for little hands to grip and hold, and all of Skip Hop’s products are phthalate free. With bright colors and distinctive textures, these rattles are sure to stimulate your baby’s senses for healthy auditory and visual development.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Ages 3 months+

A Pacifier

This simple concept soother is an adorable plush toy attached to a Soothie pacifier. The easy-to-grab animals come in different options like elephant or giraffe, and even if your baby doesn’t like a pacifier, some like to chew on the soft rubber section. Since regular pacifiers are small, they notoriously get lost when flung out of a stroller or car seat, but the animal part of this soother makes it easy to keep track of.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: 0–6 months

A Soft Book

Encourage an early love of books with these soft, multi-textured pages. The lift-the-flap peek-a-boo images in this book are perfect for inspring giggles during playtime, and its portability makes it an easy option for distracting a fussy baby on the go.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months+
Dimensions 6.8” x 7.5”

A Musical Toy

This may look like a cartoon version of an iPod, but babies really do love this musical toy. Your baby will hear versions of classical Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin and Rossini along with seeing bright lights and colors. Plus, it’s a great size to throw in a diaper bag, and your little one can hold on to it by its caterpillar handle.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines: Ages 3–36 months

An Activity Mat

This activity mat can grow with your baby. Use it for tummy time, batting at the hanging animals, kicking the piano keys and, when baby is ready to sit up, turn the keyboard upright for a (slightly) more realistic piano experience. Each animal has their own exciting feature, so there’s a lot to do in this gym.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0–36 months
Dimensions 27” x 36” x 18”

A Doll That Gives Back

If your baby loves to snuggle, they’re sure to love a soft stuffed friend to cuddle with. And this is one stuffed animal that everyone can feel good about. Hand-knit using 100% cotton and filled with hypoallergenic polyfill, it’s super soft and non-toxic for baby. And since Cuddle + Kind donates 10 meals to children in North America with every purchase, you’ll know you’ve helped give to other kiddos, too. Keep in mind: Stuffed animals and other toys should be kept out of the crib and away from baby while they’re sleeping.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0+
Dimensions Small: 13”; Regular: 20”

A Gripping Toy

At around four or five months old is when most babies will start grasping objects, so having a toy they can easily clutch will help encourage a good grip. The Skwish is basically a bundle of wooden dowels and beads held together with stretchy elastic, so when it’s gripped, the whole thing compresses in a satisfying squish (hence the name!). It also has a rattle feature as the beads slide up and down when shaken, and since it’s made with wood and non-toxic paint, it’s safe for teething.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 0+
Dimensions 6” in diameter

A Two-for-One Toy

We love any toy that combines two or more skills in one. The Pound and Tap Bench from parent-favorite wooden toy brand Hape helps little ones develop hand-eye coordination, gross motor function and arm strength (for pounding!) and a love of music. As baby punches the balls through the holes with the mallet, they fall onto the xylophone below to create a tinkling scale as they roll down. The xylophone can also be removed and played on its own. Note: While the packaging recommends the toy for ages 12 months and up, it can still be a lot of fun for any baby who has mastered their grasping skills.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 12 months+
Dimensions 9.4” x 5.3” x 5.9”

Make It Pop!

Looking for a toy that builds skills, is endlessly entertaining and portable? Meet the Dimpl, well-loved by babies and parents alike (trust us, you’ll want to play with it too). There’s something uniquely irresistible about popping the five silicone bubbles in and out and in and out over and over again, and baby will learn fine motor skills and cause and effect all the while. It’s the perfect size for tiny hands and for tossing in your diaper bag to keep baby entertained on the go.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 10 months+
Dimensions 6.25” x 5.8” x 1.25”

A Toy That Grows with Baby

An activity center is a great place to keep baby entertained and in one place safely (so you can get things done…like the dishes or a shower). This modern-styled activity center includes 25+ developmental activities and a 360-degree swivel seat so baby can reach every single part of the table. The height-adjustable foot platform supports baby’s legs while they sit, and it includes an electronic light-up keyboard. The whole thing transforms into a play table once baby is ready to practice standing, and you can either include all the toys on the table or remove them to give kiddo room for other activities like art or puzzles.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Activity seat: Ages 4 months+, up to 25 lbs; Activity table: Baby must be able to hold themselves up in standing position
Dimensions 31” x 31” x 18.5”

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