Buying baby toys can be super overwhelming. It’s so hard to know which toys are “the best” for each stage of your baby’s development. Creating a registry and also buying for someone else’s baby shower can be so difficult! Now that Mae is close to a year, and we’ve tried out toys selectively, I feel like we have a good grasp on what toys worked at what age. Some toys she just loved at certain months and some she didn’t give the time of day.
The toys that were important to us helped develop Mae’s overall development and had longevity; they were favorites for a long period of her infancy. I was extremely selective with her toys because we were on a strict budget towards being debt free and every dollar mattered. Also, I am not a fan of Mae having a zillion toys. When it comes to things, I have a more minimalistic approach. Below, I chose a toy for each month and these are all her favorites!
Look, Look! Board Book
Black and white images (the highest contrast) register in the most impactful way on a baby’s retina. This sends the strongest signals to his/her brain which means stimulation, growth and faster visual stimulation. Mae LOVED this book and I read it to her daily. Her eyes would get so wide when she saw the fish page and the flower page!
Bright Starts Lots of Links Accessory Toy
These links are AMAZING! I have a video of Mae playing with them at one month old (below) and they have continued to be one of her absolute favorite toys. They make noise when shook, you can use them to link other toys up on things like the play mat, and they float in baths! Now, at close to 10 months, she likes putting them into bowls. This simple, low cost toy has been the best toy purchase of all, hands down.
Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym
A play gym can be purchased from day one. I liked the Skip Hop play mat because it’s visually more subtle in a room. For higher contrast objects, I could added bright toys. Her favorite is the orange squirrel and the apple with the mirror on it. At five months old, almost to the day, she started reaching out and batting the toys. I like how the mat is washable, I can swap out toys, it doesn’t look horrendous in our living room and even at almost ten months, she still loves playing in it.
Oball Rattle Assortment (New Release) Oball Toy, Multicolored
The Oball was one of the first fun toys Mae loved to grab. Even now, she loves pushing it around. Mae went through a rattle phase (shaking everything to see if it made noise), starting around six months and this thing was a hit but she loved holding it early on. A certain type of the Oball was recalled because the clear plastic disc that held the small rattling balls was insecure. Amazon no longer sells them and this is a newer edition.
EDIT: It looks like Amazon is not selling the Oball Rattle at the moment. Could be because of the recall. Oball’s basic toy is very close, just no rattly parts!
Mickey Mouse Soft Book
Month 5 and 6, Mae LOVED crinkly things. This was around Christmas, so wrapping paper and tissue paper amazed her! We took a trip to the store, showing her all the toys. When she saw this book and heard the crinkle, she got SO excited and we had a hard time keeping it from her before checkout! For the next several months, as she went through her shaking-toy phase, this toy was a favorite. The chew tab is wonderful too!
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack
We received these stacking rings for Christmas and Mae absolutely loved them. When she was six months old, they were her absolute favorite toy. In fact, the next month or so, the stack hardly ever had the red one on top because she had it wherever she went. It was super fun to start to show her the rings, name the colors and see how she chose her favorites. Now, at ten months, she is stacking them!
Fisher-Price Rattle and Rock Maracas Musical Toy
I purchased these rattles when Mae was five months old but could have easily bought them earlier. She was fascinated by them. It wasn’t till later that she learned to shake them and they became her go-to toy. The soft side is great because she likes to chew on it and the other side is fun for her to make noises with (video). It was challenging to wash them because we had an unfortunate toy drop in the bathroom at Target- yuck. I didn’t want water to get on the inside (for fear of mold), so I washed the hard part delicately with hot soapy water and then filled a cup with hot soapy water and a tiny bit of laundry detergent, soaking the soft side for a few hours. It worked great.
Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether, Yellow
There seems to be some kind of cult following with the Sofie Giraffe and we got one but Mae loves this banana instead! Don’t get me wrong, she likes Sofie but she has spent countless hours gnawing on this banana. When she’s been upset about her teeth hurting, this has been the only thing to quiet her. There are no holes, so it is a great bath toy (unlike Sofie) and it is SUPER durable. Mae dropped it in the zoo parking lot and I found it on our way back to the car. It had been run over and was black with tire marks and grossness. I thought it was a goner. At home, I soaked the banana in hot soapy water and ran it through the dishwasher. It came out looking brand new; not a scratch on it!!!
Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks
These are amazing! At 9 months old, Mae started figuring out that she could put things in boxes. These first blocks became her favorite. I loved seeing how she could take the lid off, try to put it back on and put all the pieces in and out of the box. It’s also nice to tell her the shapes. She said “star” for the first time, describing the orange star piece.
VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
The age for this walker is 9-12 months and I purchased it when Mae was nine months old, though I wish I had when she was six months!!! The toys on the front are AWESOME. You can detach the whole set and she LOVED playing with them. The phone became one of her favorites to shake and gnaw on. At the end of month 9, all she wants to do is walk back and forth on this walker. I was a little disappointed at first because her little feet hit the wheels and she fell over easily with the whole thing. A month later, her arms were long enough to keep her far from hitting the wheels with her feet and she was steady enough not to fall over. This walker was definitely one of our best purchases.
Little Green Frog: Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love)
Her favorite book! I just LOVE the illustration style. Mae wants to open everything, so books with flaps are her favorite. On Amazon, you can buy the whole set together: a frog, bee, barn and boat book. The bee one is also one of her favorites. We have the “Where is Baby’s Bellybutton” book also, but the fold out pages are so thin that she tore one out! On this book, the flaps are the same as the board book, so they are super duper durable. A great book for curious teethers!
Little People Activity Airplane Ride-On
This toy is the number one toy on Mae’s list for her one year birthday. I haven’t purchased this ride-on just yet, but looking over all the 12 month toys, this one seems to be the top. I love how there is a back so she can’t fall backwards (unlike other ride-alongs) and she can use it to strengthen her legs for walking. I have read that it steers super well (again, unlike other ride-alongs) and it has a storage compartment.
Many babies like different things and grow at different rates. If you have found a toy you love that is not on this list, add it into the comments for sure! Keep in mind that these toys can be found at various places with different price points. I gravitated towards shopping gently used on Facebook infant resale groups in my area, though I found that some of these toys had great prices on Amazon.