Best Developmental Toys: The Infant Edition
As parents and therapists we can become easily overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of toys on the market. The best baby toys foster our child’s development, encourage opportunities for exploration, learning, movement, and independence.
This series is broken down into the best toys for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with helpful suggestions from myself a Pediatric Physical Therapist and mom, as well as a wonderful Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Jaime Spencer, also known as Miss Jaime OT! We are excited to have her wisdom and insight as we begin our journey into uncovering the Best Developmental Toys for Infants!
Whether you are purchasing toys for your own child, a gift for a friend or family’s new addition, toys for a daycare or nursery school, or items to utilize with young patients during therapy sessions, you cannot go wrong with any of these recommendations!
Our Top Picks for Early Motor Learning:
O-ball products are designed to ensure children are able to grasp and manipulate. The flexible material is pleasing to the touch and the bright colors make them visually stimulating as well. O-ball toys are great to motivate child during tummy time, encouraging rolling, as well as facilitating sitting and crawling! Read more about Early Motor Milestones here.
The Mini Boppy Tummy Time Pillow, is an extremely helpful tool to encourage tummy time, offering support under child’s chest and arms to facilitate propping up through upper extremities. The pillow also offers sideline ring attachment of objects for child to touch, grasp and manipulate as they gain more confidence and strength in the tummy down position. For more of our Favorite Tummy Time Toys read our post here!
Every little one should have an activity mirror. The Infantino Activity Mirror is one of our favorites as it is extremely versatile. It can be used in the car, crib or propped on the floor to encourage tummy time, rolling and crawling. This mirror also includes two sweet toys which stimulate both the child’s visual and tactile senses, with additional links to attach more objects to motivate and encourage! For these reasons and more the activity mirror is one of the best baby toys!
We love the Sassy Tactile Ring Set to promote grasping and reaching. The links are great to engage child during tummy time, to encourage rolling, sidelying play and supported sitting. Each link set includes high-contrast black & white ring, with eight individual links each with different tactile element to encourage activation of intrinsic muscles of hands for future fine motor skills! Infants love to put these in their mouth as well, promoting hand to mouth movements which are important for future self-feeding skills. This extremely portable and durable set can be used independently or to attach toys to carseat, stroller, or high chair!
Encouraging the child to move, shake, grasp, reach, and manipulate! Great to encourage visual tracking, crossing midline, tummy time, supported sitting, and standing! The Hohner 4 Piece Muscial Set includes a Mini Rainbow Shaker, Baby Maraca, Baby Rattle, and Cage Bell. Musical instruments are without a doubt among the best baby toys!
The Surprise! What’s Inside Box provides excellent sensory opportunities offering 8 soft-sculpture toys with fun textures & sounds. Allowing the child to manipulate each object as they take items out and place back in the container. Also wonderful for language development and can be enjoyed from an early age through the toddler years!
Great toy to engage child’s senses of sight, touch and sound. The Fisher Price Star Stacker encourages hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Helpful motivation for children during tummy time and one of my favorite toys to encourage independent and functional sitting! Read more about Tips and Tricks to Encourage Independent Sitting here!
The Melissa and Doug Take Along Shape Sorter is a superb developmental toy offering a padded shape sorter perfect for babies and toddlers. Includes 2 activity sides with variety of shapes all with different textures and in different colors. Great for development of sensory system, fine motor and gross motor skills as well as early learning of shapes and colors, encouraging problem solving and reasoning. Shape sorters are one of the best baby toys!
The Plush Taggies Ball is the perfect toy for tummy time, sitting and crawling. As the ball rolls along, the child is motivated to crawl after it. Offering a soft surface, bright colors, gentle chime noise, and fun-to-grip tags. Helping with fine motor skills and grip, while the little loops of material are great for encouraging finger isolation. Sensory seekers love to squeeze and touch it as well!
Infantino Discover and Play Soft Blocks are a great developmental toy for infants offering easy to grasp soft blocks with different rings or handles on them, to encourage infants to develop their grasping skills as they play. They can be thrown like a ball or stacked as blocks. They are colorful, but they also offer high contrast black and white images. Research shows that a newborn can see bold contrasting colors better than pastel colors. The high contrast black and white sends the strongest signals to the infant’s brain, stimulating growth and development of visual skills.
Stacking Cups are great for infants, and older children too. A great compact toy that can fit right in your diaper bag as a fun “on-the-go” toy. Children learn colors and spatial concepts of big and small as they work to nest the cups or stack them to build a tower.
Infants benefit from play in different positions. The Fisher Price Deluxe Gym Play Mat is great for engaging the child and promoting active play. Movable and stationary activity toys encourage the child to explore the overhead gym, which helps to develop hand-eye coordination, and enjoy Tummy Time play, which helps to develop important muscles of the neck, shoulders, arms, hands and trunk!
Thank you to Jaime Spencer for her contributions to our recommendations for the Best Baby Toys! Jaime Spencer is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist practicing in Long Island, New York. She also holds a Masters Degree in Special Education and is a certified Handwriting Specialist. She is the author of the Occupational Therapy blog www.MissJaimeOT.com. It is wonderful to have such a skilled and passionate Pediatric Occupational Therapist to share ideas with!
Check out our next post in the series Best Developmental Toys: The Toddler Edition!
Learn more about Dinosaur Physical Therapy!