What Are The Best Toys for Newborn Babies? – 2019 Edition
Buying toys for newborns is difficult because young babies haven’t yet developed preferences for characters or colors. Fortunately, there are plenty of thoughtful toys for newborn babies that encourage cognitive development and make playtime safe and fun for little ones.
Mary Meyer Taggies Sherbet Lamb
Soft toys are a go-to for newborn gifts, and this Taggies Lamb tops the list. The lamb is 12 inches tall and plush all over with taggies for pulling and chewing.
- Machine washable
- Embroidery for eyes (no buttons)
- The 12-inch size is bulky for newborns to hold on their own
Although the size can seem bulky for newborn babies, the soft fabric and overall infant safety of this lamb makes it an ideal baby shower or newborn gift. Parents can introduce the textures of the toy and help babies hold onto it, potentially making the lamb their child’s future comfort toy.
John N Tree Organic Cotton First Friend
The puppy measures 6.7 inches, the rabbit 5.1, and the wrist rattle 3.5 inches, making this small set a favorite.
- Natural organic cotton that’s dye free with hypoallergenic polyester filling
- Hand or machine wash (don’t machine dry or they may shrink)
- The packaging doesn’t seem to follow the eco-friendly mindset of the product
Whether you’re purchasing a gift for a baby who is susceptible to environmental allergies or you want to appeal to parents’ desire for all-natural baby gifts, the 3-piece rattle set fulfills both needs. The puppy is a perfectly cuddly playmate, and the rattling sounds of the set create interest for babies of all ages. Although John N Tree Organic makes other plush toys, their First Friend rattle set tops the list of newborn-friendly toys.
Baby Gund My First Teddy Bear
Another plushy option that doubles as both a hands-on toy and a keepsake.
- Machine washable
- Embroidered eyes and nose (no buttons)
- Color options
- No interactive elements
The Baby Gund My First Teddy Bear is a 10 inch stuffed friend with embroidered details. Satin accents and an embroidered note on teddy’s foot make him a classic toy that’s ready to make memories with children as they grow.
Although the classic teddy comes in brown, Gund also makes other bears in pink, blue, and tan shades so you can choose the right hue for your baby or gift recipient. For newborns, teddy can function as a nursery decoration, but he’s just as welcome to spend time snuggling as all materials are infant-safe and soft.
Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Mobile
Three reversible cards let parents customize their baby’s viewing experience.
- Plastic clamp connects to strollers, car seats, and more
- Lightweight and travels easily
- Versatile design
- Difficult to use at home as a mobile
Many infant mobiles focus on pink or blue color schemes with traditionally “baby” themes like animals, but Manhattan Toy’s Infant Mobile has a more modern appeal. Its colors are high-contrast to appeal to infants’ developing gaze. The top card of the mobile measures 7 inches in diameter, so this small toy packs away easily and comes with baby wherever families go.
Fisher-Price Crinkle Camera Mirror
For parents who are photographers, or for younger siblings of kids who love cameras, this crinkle camera toy is the perfect fit.
Oops! Looks like this toy is sold out.
- Crinkle sounds encourage play
- A mirror helps develop visual tracking skills
- The smaller size is handy for younger babies
- “flash” cube is a harder material than the rest of the camera
Although Fisher-Price makes plastic cameras for older babies and toddlers to play with, this Crinkle Camera Mirror is a plush version that’s newborn-safe. A mirror engages babies with their reflections, and the flashcube is chewy material that’s safe for them to mouth on. Babies can grasp the crinkly material, look in the mirror, and chew on the flash cube.
Lamaze Freddie the Firefly
According to Lamaze, this toy stimulates babies’ vision and hearing skills, important developmental details for newborn playthings.
- Soft body
- Clip to secure Freddie to a stroller or seat
- Safe for babies to mouth on
- Tag states spot-clean only
- Larger than it appears in some images
Freddie the Firefly is a handheld soft toy that engages babies with sounds and textures. Grasping the toy makes it crinkle, clack, and jingle, and each wing features a new texture. It’s BPA and phthalate free, plus a pull-out teether can make an appearance when teeth do.
For younger babies, parents can rattle Freddie, show little ones the mirror, and help them touch each textured part of the wings.
Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball
Sassy’s Developmental Bumpy Ball gives even the youngest babies a tactile feedback experience that encourages exploration. Its textured surfaces and knobby grips, plus a rattle inside, keep babies’ interest through the toddler years.
- Small size (5.4-inch diameter) helps younger babies hold on
- Soft construction prevents bouncing and contact injuries
- Sassy suggests 6+ months for the lower age limit but advises parents to use the ball as a rattle for newborns on up
- No machine washing (some parents use pacifier wipes to spot clean)
The bumpy ball is part of Sassy’s sensory play line and focuses on building grasping and transfer skills in older infants. Parents can shake the rattle for newborn babies and show them the bright colors, plus encourage babies to grasp the knobby materials. It also grows with babies, serving as a safe and gentle first ball once tots reach the crawling stage.
A snuggly toy that babies can hug and chew, and it comes with a ring to secure it to car seats or strollers.
- Plush body with plenty of legs and tags to grasp
- Clips to seats or strollers
- No rattle or other sound features
Giraffes always seem to be a huge hit with babies, and the BeeSpring Giraffe is no exception.
BeeSpring’s giraffe measures 18 inches tall, meaning it’s another newborn toy that can grow with babies. In the newborn stage, parents can show babies the colors and help them feel the textures.
Fisher-Price Rattle ‘n Rock Maracas
What’s life without music? For newborns, Fisher-Price’s Rattle ‘n Rock Maracas introduce them to the magic of music from day one.
- Maracas grow with newborns through preschool age
- Soft pom-poms make them safe for young babies
- Pom-poms are spot-clean only
Parents who are passionate about music can start showing these maracas to babies when they’re newborns, but the toys grow with baby through preschool age. However, the grips are small enough to fit little hands with ease.
Plastic beads are secure inside the plastic dome but make a shake-shake sound and are visible from outside.
Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano
With more musical fun for babies, the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano needs only a small bump to start playing songs.
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- Includes a power button and volume control
- Has multiple playback modes
- Moves from crib to floor
- The fluffiness of the piano can keep babies from hitting the buttons inside
Whether babies lie in their cribs and kick their feet or parents start the melodies playing, infants will seek out the lights and sounds of the Kick and Play Piano. As a crib toy, its soft construction and long battery life satisfy parents.
Music lasts up to 20 minutes, and multiple modes allow for auto-play of songs or lets babies start and stop the music. Blinking lights add interest for even the youngest babies.
Newborn Baby Toys FAQs
Shopping for newborns is often baffling. Parents may not need another soft blanket or a cute baby outfit, but what’s the point in purchasing toys for newborns who spend most of their time sleeping? There are benefits to newborn toys, apart from the fact that they make for adorable photo opportunities.
Are There Benefits to Baby Play?
According to Science Daily and their expert neuropsychologist, yes- there are benefits to playing with newborns. Babies need to use their senses and their bodies, experts say, to explore their environment and engage with toys and other things around them.
Exposing babies to new experiences, sights, and sounds helps their development and maintains essential connections in the brain. But just as important as offering babies a variety of experiences is letting them explore on their own, experts note.
Whether you’re showing him toys or taking her outside for a lie in the grass, your baby is learning about the world. Providing toys that are age-appropriate only adds to their opportunities for learning and development.
For babies, “learning” doesn’t happen in the traditional sense, where parents teach ABCs or encourage counting. Instead, babies hone their large and fine motor skills through play. Grasping a toy or rolling over are examples of motor skills, and they’re crucial for babies’ development through the toddler stage.
What Are Age-Appropriate Toys for Newborns?
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) highlights that newborn babies use their eyes, mouths, and hands to explore. Providing age-appropriate toys that encourage that exploration helps make playtime fun and engaging.
Babies enjoy faces, bright colors, sounds, and putting things in their mouths, NAEYC says, so toys for young babies include things they can grab, hold, suck on, shake, listen to, and look at. For example, toys like:
- Squeeze toys
- Teething toys
- Soft dolls
- Textured balls/toys
- Unbreakable mirrors
- Recordings/simple songs
You’ll notice that the toys we recommend fit these categories, and that’s because each one addresses a facet of the newborn learning experience. Open-ended toys like blocks and balls may be beyond infants’ physical capabilities, but soft toys encourage their grasping and hand-eye coordination.
What Toys Should Gift Givers Avoid for Babies?
When buying toys for newborns, it’s a good idea to avoid any products that pose a choking hazard. While buttons and small balls are obvious dangers to infants, any part of a toy that is unsecured can come off and wind up in a baby’s mouth.
Similarly, toys with hard parts can also cause problems for little ones. The best toys for newborns are soft and forgiving ones. Softer toys are helpful for parents to avoid injuries to babies but also to prevent older siblings or even parents from accidentally bonking the baby while playing.
In general, newborns don’t need toys with batteries or buttons, either. Some interactive toys that require parental assistance can prove beneficial to development, such as the piano toy above. But toys that require babies to play alone often fall short when it comes to providing a learning and growing experience.
Although blocks and puzzles are ideal toys for older infants through preschool age and beyond, newborns won’t be able to manipulate the pieces. These items can also be hazardous if baby mouths on them, so it’s best to wait until a child is older to introduce such toys.
Are Electronic Toys Good for Babies?
Many parents or gift-givers are often tempted to buy even young children interactive toys that talk. While this seems like too much for a newborn to handle, electronics are so prevalent in our society that interactive computers target toddlers and under. But in fact, toys like electronics that talk can prove detrimental to babies, NPR reported.
Researchers performed a study that compared electronic talking toys with nonresponsive types of toys. The results showed that parents were less likely to engage with their babies when the toys were doing all the talking. Puzzles, books, and blocks all showed better results when it came to parent play.
For that reason, limiting technology-related toys that take the place of caregivers’ interaction is not helpful for newborns’ development. Conversely, toys that require parents to play and talk help expose babies to speech patterns, emotions, and more in a developmentally appropriate way.
Granted, there is a place for crib toys that keep babies occupied while parents tend to household, personal, or other children’s needs, but those toys should only provide a small part of babies’ play each day. Of course, toys cannot replace a caregiver’s time and attention, but the best toys for newborn babies help caregivers play better!
While musical toys are typically an exception to the technology “rules” for babies, parents should concentrate on playing with babies rather than letting the toys do the work. Fortunately, the best toys for newborn babies are simple ones that allow for plenty of open-ended play by parents and babies alike.