11 Best Toys & Gifts for 9- to 12-Month-Old Babies in 2022
Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds
January 7, 2022

Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds

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Best Toys for 9- to 12-Month-Olds.
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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 (also called a walker) is a great way to encourage walking. This parent favorite is packed with tons of tactile activities for curious little hands and minds. It’s great as an activity center before baby is mobile, then works wonderfully as a walking helper for when your little one is ready to get moving. Heads up: The manufacturer-recommended age is listed as 18 months and up, but it’s sturdy enough for younger walkers as long as they can reach the handle without lifting their arms over their head (handle stands at 22 inches).

Looking for a more budget-friendly walker? Parents also love this option from Fisher-Price with electronic activities.

Sort It Out

With all the skills they help develop in your baby, shape sorters are a classic playtime go-to. Think of it as baby’s first puzzle—the job of fitting the shaped pieces into corresponding chutes fascinates little minds and encourages problem solving and fine and gross motor skills. This eco-friendly version is made from recycled plastic milk jugs, so it’s extra durable.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months+

Hide-and-Seek Tissues

Have you handed your baby a tissue box yet (or have they gotten ahold of one on their own)? The mystery of where the tissues come from is never ending, and there’s something about the tactile experience of pulling out one tissue after another that babies love. But rather than fill your living room with loose tissues which might then get easily shredded, this clever toy includes nine satin tissues that can easily be put back into the wooden box (and not shredded), so baby can have hours of discovery and fun without making a huge mess.

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.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 6 months+

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+

Vroom, Vroom!

Baby’s first car! The days of driver’s ed are still far into the future, so toy cars will make a great substitution for the real thing for now. Like any other rolling object, toy cars can help baby build their gross motor skills of rolling and pushing, as well as hand-eye coordination for catching if you push the car toward them. These vehicles from beloved brand Melissa & Doug feature large, soft bodies that are safe for babies, and they include a fun pull-back feature that helps them go farther and faster.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 9 months+

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 6 months–3 years

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.

Additional Specs
Child Guidelines Ages 9 months+

A Speech Starter

Your little one loves to hear you talk, even if you’re just naming furniture, but they’ll soon learn some essential first words and pictures with this bright board book. One hundred color photographs and simple words will help your baby learn more about their world, and the tough board book pages will hold up to hours of reading.

Baby Phone Home

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 “call” anyone they could possibly think of—but don’t worry, it’s made entirely of silicone, so you won’t end up with any roaming charges.

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