11 Best Toys & Gifts for 9- to 12-Month-Old Babies in 2021
Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds
November 5, 2020

Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds

Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds.
Photo by @ellevandyke
Playtime is the best time! These favorite toys help babies learn and develop all while having fun. Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds

Babies love to play, especially as they get closer to toddlerhood. Between 9 and 12 months, babies are energetic, uber-curious and eager to explore the world around them as they learn to crawl, cruise and eventually walk. (Time to set up those baby gates!)

Playing with your soon-to-be toddler is a great way to help them meet all of their developmental milestones—and get in a few giggles along the way.

Play helps children thrive, and it’s crucial for little ones entering toddlerhood as they start to truly explore the world around them. Playtime can help develop your baby’s language skills and social-emotional intelligence; it can help them reach physical milestones like sitting independently and crawling; and it can even set the foundation for teaching them complex cognitive concepts like problem solving and object permanence.

Baby’s Development Milestones from 9 to 12 Months

Here are some of the developmental milestones to look out for as your baby approaches one year old, and how play can help, according to the CDC. (These are just general guidelines and each baby meets milestones at their own pace. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s development.)

Social and Emotional Milestones
  • Becoming clingy and crying when you leave (even if you’re just leaving the room)
  • Showing stranger anxiety
  • Imitating people’s movements during play
  • Having favorites when it comes to toys and activities (and people!)

Try this: Set a routine of play a few times each day to encourage bonding, attachment and consistency. During playtime, try building with blocks, doing pretend play or reading a book; just enjoy playing together!

Language and Communication Milestones
  • Understanding and responding to the word “no”
  • Lots of babbling, copying sounds and gestures
  • Using fingers to point at interesting objects
  • Paying more attention when you talk

Try this: Pass a toy back and forth while saying “my turn, your turn” to help your baby develop a sense of sharing. Use descriptive words to narrate what you’re doing while you’re playing with your little one. For example, if you’re playing with a pounding bench, you can say, “Wow, you just used the small hammer to hit the red ball into the hole!”

Cognitive Milestones
  • Looking for things you hide (that’s object permanence starting to kick in)
  • Increased interest in exploring objects
  • Correctly identifying images when you say the corresponding word (you say “cat” and baby points to the picture of a cat)
  • Dropping or throwing objects on purpose to watch you pick it up

Try this: Look for toys that encourage tactile stimulation and encourage open-ended play. Things like textured balls, blocks and imaginary play items are all great choices.

Movement and Physical Development Milestones
  • Standing while holding on to furniture or people
  • Crawling (some babies skip crawling altogether, so no worries if your baby goes straight to walking)
  • Pulling up to stand
  • Using a pincer grasp (thumb and first finger) to grab small things like puffs or O-shaped cereal

Try this: Use a push walker to encourage your child to practice walking with assistance. Put a favorite toy just out of reach or use a motorized toy with movement to encourage your little one to crawl.

From pretend play to encouraging crawling, the toys on this list will not only provide hours of entertainment but will also encourage the huge range of developmental milestones that are happening as your little one grows from baby to toddler. (Note: some of the age guidelines for these toys skew older, though they are developmentally OK. As with all toys, be sure there are no small parts or pieces that could be choking hazards, and if your child gets frustrated while playing with the toy, put it away and try it again another day.)

Movin' and Groovin'

There are so many ways to play with this musical activity table. Featuring 70 songs and learning responses, sensory “instruments” that press, slide and pull, a music mode and a learning mode (in Spanish and English) and more, babies and toddlers alike will love to groove and learn. It’s great for introducing basic concepts like letters, numbers, shapes and colors, and the attachable legs take it from the floor into an activity table when your toddler begins to stand.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months–3 years
Dimensions 14.5” x 18” x 17.4”

Walk This Way

As your baby tries to become more mobile, a push toy/walker is a great way to encourage walking. This parent favorite is packed with tons of tactile activities, sounds and lights perfect for curious little minds. It’s great as an activity center before baby is mobile, then snaps onto a sturdy walker base for when your little one is ready to get moving.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 9 months–3 years
Dimensions 5.83” x 20.87” x 15”

Music to Your Ears

This sweet little musical toy makes gentle, melodic jingles and chimes as it waddles back and forth. Its movements are a great thrill for older babies; just a gentle push sends it spinning or waddling away, and no matter how hard you push it, it always (cheerfully) comes right back up.

A Pop-Up Surprise

Push, twist or slide the levers for a fun surprise! These friendly animals can help your baby develop fine motor skills and learn cause and effect—watch them put a smile on baby’s face each time they pop up to say hello.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 9 months+
Dimensions 3.5” x 13.5” x 8”

A Loopin' Good Time

Ready for baby’s first roller coaster? (Don’t worry, this one won’t make you motion sick.) This two-track bead maze gets your little one’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination working as they guide the beads along, and the four suction cups keep the base secure on smooth surfaces for extra stability.

A Perfect Fit

Jigsaw puzzles are too hard for a nine-month-old, so baby’s first puzzle should be as simple as possible. This one-shape, Montessori-friendly option is perfect for developing hand-eye coordination and practicing pincer grasp without overwhelming your little one. And once baby has mastered the circle (the easiest of the shapes), they can move on to the rest of the set.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 9 months+
Dimensions 5” x 5” x 2 “

Stack 'Em Up!

Designed to help with grasping and hand-eye coordination, this stacking toy is a blast for both older babies and toddlers. The centers of the colorful rings are all the same size, so stacking is frustration-free. And when your little one is old enough to start counting, the numbers on the side of each ring will help them learn counting order.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months–3 years
Dimensions 5.1” x 5.1” x 8.7”

Bathtime Fun

Put a little float in your boat with these bobbin’ bath toys. Baby can scoop up water and pour it back out, watch the fun waterfall patterns come out the holes in the top or cruise them through the bathtub waves. And since they’re single-piece construction, they won’t get moldy like most other bath toys.

Dimply Delightful

This toy may seem simple, but babies can’t get enough of the bright colors, soft silicone and poke-able bubbles. Its small size makes it portable and easy for little hands to hold, so it might come in handy during fussy diaper changes or car rides.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 10 months+
Dimensions 14.2” x 8.1” x 7”

See, Touch, Hear

Moo, oink, baa! Babies of this age love to hear animal sounds, and this book includes five farm animals with real sound effects (so you’ll get a break from practicing your neighing). Each page also offers tactile stimulation as baby pets the sheep’s wool, the horse’s mane and the pig’s ear.


Has your baby started to notice your smartphone? Maybe they’ve even (not so sneakily) stolen it a time or two. Older babies love to imitate the adults in their lives, and this tiny phone lets them take their own “selfies” complete with glasses, whiskers and puppy dog ears.

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