Whether you are shopping for the holidays, birthdays, or just for fun, choosing a toy for baby can be a tedious task. Find that perfect toy that will have your bundle of joy more excited about what is underneath the wrapping paper than the wrapping paper itself. In this 2019 Gift Guide for Developmental Toys for Baby, you will read about:

  • The importance of choosing a developmental toy
  • What to look for when choosing a toy
  • How to strategically choose multiple toys
  • The best developmental toys for 2019
  • How you can support developmental play with baby

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Small baby playing with multiple colorful toys.
developmental toys for baby

Looking for developmental toys for toddlers? Check out this post!

Why Choose Developmental Toys for Baby?

If you could simultaneously have a great time all while improving your mental acuity, wouldn’t you want to? Why should it be any different for baby? Toys can be engaging and increase brain growth and development all at the same time.

Babies are constantly learning. While you may see the things around you as ordinary and boring, they are slowly seeing a whole new world unfold in front of their eyes. You want to give your baby the opportunity to learn from their environment seeing as this is how they are beginning to learn. While interacting with you is the best way for that to happen, toys can provide different experiences and cognitive challenges to learn from as well.

So why not just choose any toy? Well, not all toys are created equal. While many toys may be fun for your child to play with, you want to find something that will also enrich their brain development. If a toy is able to match what stage of development your child is at, it will help support their development and help them demonstrate what they are learning.

You also don’t want a toy that takes away from the interaction with you. Nothing can replace your bonding and play with baby in terms of growth and development so don’t just get a toy that will do the work for you. Look for one that you can interact with together.

What to Look for in a Developmental Toy for Baby

As babies are taking in the world around them, they are constantly exploring people and the relationships between objects that they see. They might be interested in dumping things, stacking things, squeezing things, and/or shaking things.

To find toys that allow baby to do all of those things and more, look for some of these things:

1. Objects that you can put in a Container

As babies are exploring their toys, they may like to make noise and shake things in a container. They may also want to dump things out. When buying or making a toy like this, look for larger objects that fit inside a container that baby can easily pick up, shake, and dump.

2. Objects that Can Stack

Babies love stacking things and of course, knocking them down. Blocks of different, shapes, sizes, and colors are a great choice. This helps them with their motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and their manual dexterity.

3. Objects of Different Textures, Shapes, and Sizes

Babies love exploring different textures, especially in their mouths! Take the time to find objects that have different textures that baby can manipulate to help develop sensory skills.

Strategically Choosing Multiple Developmental Toys for Baby

If you are buying multiple toys and want to get the most bang for your buck, you could strategically choose your developmental toys for baby. Choose toys that address each area of development by mixing and matching the purposes of the toys. Below are the five areas of child development.

Baby boy playing in an activity gym

1. Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is best described as a child’s ability to learn, explore, and solve problems. When thinking about your baby, cognitive development can be considered how baby is learning from the world around them. That can be as simple as noticing that things are different shapes and colors or more difficult such as learning the ABCs.

2. Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills are the ability for a child to do things with their hands. Developing a pincer grasp to pick up small items will be a huge accomplishment for your little one when the time comes. This can also include picking up larger objects with their hands, turning the pages of a book, or grasping the handles of their sippy cup.

3. Gross Motor Skills

While fine motor skills work on the motor skills within hands and fingers, gross motor skills involve the body. This can be rolling over, crawling, or any sort of large movement. It is especially important to build a strong core because it supports all of these gross motor movements, so keep in mind toys that involve tummy time for your little one.

4. Speech and Language

This area of development relates to how babies understand and use language. Their ability to understand language will develop well before their ability to use it effectively. This is why baby sign language has become so popular. Babies develop the gross and fine motor skills to communicate before they are able to speak.

5. Social and Emotional

This is the ability to interact with others and support a child’s ability to monitor their emotions and feelings. Ever wonder why the bond and attachment between a child and caregiver is so important other than taking care of survival needs? A baby also needs social interaction to feel safe, secure, and loved. It is through these things that a baby will be able to develop the ability to smile, hug, and interact with others along with the ability to recognize their feelings and help control them.

The Best Developmental Toys for Baby

Below are some of the best developmental toys for baby. Don’t forget to check the age limits on the toys to ensure they are appropriate for your little one!

1. Soft Blocks

These are the perfect first blocks for baby. Not only are they large and soft, but they also have the alphabet on them with pictures. In addition, there are inserts for the blocks that have different textures to support sensory development.

2. Building Blocks

Looking for a different type of block? These blocks are unique in their shape, color, and texture. They are architectural blocks that each feature a letter of the alphabet and an animal that represents each letter. These soft, squeezable blocks are a winner!

3. Stacking Rings

These stacking rings hit multiple areas of development. Their bright colors and varied textures allow baby to explore with their senses. They also support fine motor, gross motor, and cognitive development.

4. Shape Sorter

This shape sorter allows baby to explore the different colors, shapes, and textures of its pieces. Baby will have fun shaking all of the shapes and dumping them out of their box.

5. Musical Shape Sorter

A different twist on the classic shape sorter, this musical drum sorter encourages baby to tap the drum, learn numbers, and identify animals and their sounds. Baby will love to push the shapes through to play the dream and hear the music.

6. Musical Piano Mat

This piano mat is great for your sitting, scooting, crawling, or walking baby. They will love the ability to see how their movement creates sound and the jumbo size of the mat is perfect to support those gross motor skills.

7. Floor Mirror

A great way to support tummy time and core development, this mirror will be a favorite to play with. They ladybug and bee are perfect for baby to reach for and they will hear some crinkle paper sounds when they do!

8. Activity Mat

This activity gym is a grow with baby gym that has so much going on. The music, shapes, and toys help support baby during tummy time. Baby will love reaching for the toys and as baby gets older, it converts into a ball pit.

9. Activity Table

Skip Hop did a great job when thinking about an activity table. This is another grow with you table that has so many things to appeal to baby’s development. While baby is younger, they can easily spin from toy to toy while sitting in the middle seat. The music bar can move from the table to the foot stand to practice cause and effect with both hands and feet. This is an all around win that will keep baby captivated while supporting their growth.

10. Interactive Duck

This duck is seriously mesmerizing to little ones. This is a huge motivator for gross motor development. Because it moves everywhere, babies will love to push themselves to chase after it. Whether they are learning to roll, scoot, or crawl, baby will want to make sure they are able to reach the duck as it dances across the floor.

11. Explore and More Follow Me Bee

Just like the duck, this is a moving, musical toy that encourages babies to crawl after it. There are multiple features that make it unique. When baby is just learning to crawl, you can set it to only move in small circles. Then, when baby is ready, you can set it to move around in larger areas. The bee also easily comes off of the cloud to double as a rattle.

12. Bath Shark

This wind-up bath shark will keep your little one engaged in the tub while you scrub them clean. It spins and swims around in the water, allowing baby to reach and grab.

13. Bubble Octopus

Another bath time toy, this octopus plays music and blows bubbles. The suction cups on the back allow you to suction it to the wall so bubbles can float all around baby in the bath.

14. Flappy the Elephant

A personal favorite of ours, Flappy the Elephant sings and plays peek-a-boo with baby. Your little one will be mesmerized by Flappy’s moving ears and will love playing peek-a-boo with their elephant friend.

Supporting Developmental Play

Baby hand reaching for colorful wooden blocks and legos.
developmental toys for baby

One of the most important things you can do to support developmental play is your interaction with baby and their new toys. While it is important for baby to develop independent play skills, it is equally important for you to guide them with their new toys. Talk to them about the shapes and colors. Help them explore the new textures and show them how to interact and have fun.

Just as it’s important to challenge baby with new toys, don’t forget the old favorites that don’t involve something shiny and new. Singing songs and playing games with you promotes all areas of development, particularly the social-emotional aspect. Mimic baby when they bang on the high chair, blow raspberries on their belly, tickle and play hiding games.

With your list of the best developmental toys for baby, you are well on your way to seeing your little one scream with excitement over their new toys and games. What are your favorite developmental toys? Drop a comment down below!


PS–don’t forget to share!