Play is at the center of your baby’s world. It’s fun and it’s essential; play supports a child’s social and emotional, language, cognitive, and physical development. Toys are an integral part of play. There are also about a million baby toys in the world, some of which will inevitably get shoved into the bottom of drawers and forgotten forever. Not to mention wooden spoons and mommy’s dressy shoes, which can be the favorite toys at various times. How do you choose toys your baby will actually love—and then use for more than five minutes?
The best toys remain fun and intriguing as your baby grows, which babies do pretty much nonstop. They help little ones reach big milestones, from rolling over to grabbing to crawling. Infant toys should be appealing, engaging, and safe for little hands—and mouths—to discover.
Here are three ways to pick toys that will stay relevant and fun as your baby changes and grows:
Babies explore their world through their senses (we all do!) and the best toys help stimulate through visual, auditory, and tactile elements that help them observe and engage with the world around them.
A Play Gym is a great place to start, and the Baby Einstein 4-in-1 Kickin' Tunes Music and Language Discovery Play Gym is our pick. Multi-sensory elements include a crinkle medallion, triangle rattle, textured music note, flash cards and self-discovery mirror, so there’s plenty for your baby to keep exploring as they grow. There are many quality play gyms on offer, but this one has four modes that make it adaptable for different baby stages: laying, sitting, tummy time (complete with a pillow to make this comfier) and take-along. Then there’s the musical element—your baby can play the piano with just a press of a finger or the kick of a foot. The mat is also machine washable, for when your baby inevitable spits up all over it.
Once your baby starts moving, they’re not looking back! From the first time your baby’s tiny (and surprisingly strong) fist clamps around your finger to their first wobbly steps, look for toys that help little ones stay active, strengthen their muscles, and develop gross motor skills.
The Baby Einstein Go Opus Go 4-in-1 Crawl and Chase Baby Learning Toy grows with child from baby to preschool with four modes of learning and fun to inspire musical exploration, number and shape learning, sensory discovery, and movement.
How does it work? Touch a soft arm in Tummy Time Mode to see Opus light up, spin, and sing. In Sit & Play Mode, baby can learn numbers, colors, and shapes as Opus spins. In Chase Mode, Opus moves away from baby or toddler by sensing obstacles, encouraging crawling or walking to catch Opus. Once caught, he rewards with a celebratory song! Dance Mode brings the party to all ages as Opus teaches opposites and plays music. Parenting pro tip: music and dancing make everything better, on great days and hard ones.
When adding to baby’s toy selection, a diverse range of items will help incorporate different senses and motor skills into playtime. Changing up their toys will inspire curiosity and help them feel empowered as they explore their world. That doesn’t mean you need a million toys—studies have shown that a more minimal selection can help increase the quality of play.
Infant mainstays like sensory rollers, teethers, board books, rattles, and colorful squishy blocks are perfect places to start. My kids were also big fans of stackable cups, balls of all shapes and sizes, and anything that played an annoying sound. Trying something new can spark their brains and bodies to experience more of that magic of play.