Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Old Babies

Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds

March 15, 2019

Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds

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

Babies love to play, especially as they reach 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 although it’s important at all developmental stages, it’s especially crucial as little ones go from baby to toddlerhood and start to truly explore the world around them. Play can help develop your baby’s language skills and their social and 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.

Here are some of the developmental milestones to look out for as your baby enters toddlerhood, 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

Right around 9 months old, your little one may start becoming clingy, will begin showing stranger anxiety (don’t worry, it’s totally normal!) and show favorites when it comes to toys and activities.

Try this:

  • Set a routine of play a few times each day to encourage bonding, attachment and consistency.
  • Build with blocks, do pretend play or read a book; just enjoy playing together!

Language and Communication Milestones

Nine-month-olds will start understanding the word “no”—and will show you! This is also the time for lots of babbling, copying sounds and gestures, and using fingers to point.

Try this:

  • Pass a toy back and forth while saying “my turn, your turn.”
  • 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 green hammer to hit the red ball into the hole!”

Cognitive Milestones

Between 9 and 12 months old, your baby will begin looking for things you hide (that’s object permanence starting to kick in), moving things from one hand to another more smoothly and using a pincer grasp (thumb and first finger) to grab small things like puffs or cereal o’s.

Try this:

  • Look for toys that encourage tactile stimulation and encourage open-ended play.
  • Things like textured balls, Lego Duplo and imaginary play items are all great choices.

Movement and Physical Development Milestones

Your 9-month-old is on the move! Things like standing while holding on, sitting unsupported, crawling and pulling to stand will all start happening between 9 and 12 months old.

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 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.)

Move, Groove and Learn

There are so many ways to play with this musical activity table that it will keep your little one entertained for hours (but probably not all at one time!). Featuring 70 songs and learning responses, sensory “instruments” that press, slide and pull, a music mode and a learning mode (that’s also bilingual 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 even comes with legs to transform into an activity table when your toddler begins to stand.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 6+ months

Walk This Way

Nine- to 12-month-olds are going through so many huge physical leaps, most notably learning to become mobile. A push toy/walker is a great way to encourage walking, and 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
Age Range: 6+ months

Count and Build

A play set that truly grows with your little one—younger babies will love building (and knocking down!) these chunky, easy-to-assemble first blocks, while older toddlers will enjoy learning colors and numbers and having fun with pretend play. This colorful Lego Duplo set features a buildable train and three wagons, number blocks from one through nine, two human figurines and a cat figure.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 18+ months

No Place Like Home

Let your little one’s imagination soar with this toddler-friendly take on a timeless toy, the dollhouse. Specially designed for tiny hands, this playset is packed with learning and fine motor activities and is a great intro to the world of pretend play.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 12+ months

Pound and Play

Just about the only time you’ll actually want your little one to wield a hammer, this wooden pounding bench + xylophone rolled into one is perfect for developing hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, musical awareness and, of course, cause and effect. Babies will love to listen to the xylophone play as they hammer each brightly colored ball through the holes, and you’ll love that the bench is decorated with water-based paint and non-toxic finishes. (Just keep on eye on your little to make sure that hammer stays on the toy, and not on things like your coffee table, lamp or the cat.)

Additional Specs
Age Range: 12+ months

Explore and Imagine

Turn your playroom (or any room) into your very own baby gym! Your little one will get a sensory “workout” while hiding inside or crawling through this soft, crinkly tunnel. And when you’re done playing, it folds up easily for compact storage.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 18+ months

Music to Your Ears

Bring the orchestra right to your baby’s fingertips! This light-up musical toy features five “instruments,” easily activated by a simple touch, and one full orchestra button that brings it all together. There are eight Mozart compositions included so your little one will never get bored—and a volume control switch to save your ears!

Additional Specs
Age Range: 0+ months

A Crawling Companion

This adorable bee is the perfect toy for little ones on the move. Three modes of play engage babies at different stages. Pre-crawlers can simply play with the bee rattle, which is weighted so it wobbles but won’t fall over. For early crawlers, place the bee in the motorized cloud and it rolls around in a circular pattern, staying close so your baby can catch up. Finally, for advanced crawlers, you can set the toy to move in random patterns that encourage them to chase it.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 5+ months

Splash and Learn

Turn bath time into a game of ring toss with this adorable floating octopus and its three colorful rings. Younger babies will have fun holding and playing with the bath toy, and as they get older, they’ll love trying to hook the rings onto the tentacles while building their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. It’s BPA free and also makes a fun pool toy during the warmer months.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 18+ months

See, Touch, Hear

Babies of this age love tactile stimulation, and this board book features lots of things for little ones to touch and hear—plus they can learn the names of farm animals and the noises they make.

Additional Specs
Age Range: 6+ months
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