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Bonnie Vengrow
Contributing Writer

What Baby Toys Should I Buy at Each Age?

There’s a huge aisle of toys at the baby store. How do I choose?

In the end, your picks will come down to personal preference, but make sure you don’t choose a bunch of similar toys. “You want balance in the toy box,” says Adrienne Appell, toy trend specialist with the Toy Industry Association. So go for a variety and get a mix of color, texture and sounds.

First things first: Quality and safety are important, so start by going to a store you trust, Appell says. Reputable retailers have already vetted their products and they have to adhere to US toy safety standards (which are high). What’s on their shelves should be fine, whether the product was made in San Antonio, Texas, or Stockholm, Sweden. If a friend gives you a bag full of secondhand toys, you can’t say the same, so look them over carefully to check they’re in overall good shape and are age appropriate.

While you’re shopping, read the packaging. Seems like a no-brainer, but there’s a lot that goes into the age recommendations on the boxes, so stick very close to them, Appell says. Even if baby is a genius (and of course, to you she is!), that doesn’t mean she should play with something meant for an older child—it could be dangerous or difficult (and frustrating) for her to master right now. (Speaking of safety, keep all toys out of the crib and never hang or attach them with a string or elastic to baby’s gear.)

From birth to 6 months
Though she hasn’t mastered that whole grabbing skill yet, baby’s hearing is developed and her vision is improving. These are the two major ways she’s exploring her world, so stick with toys that are colorful, high-contrast and make noise. This includes:

• Mobiles
• Rattles
• Large interlocking rings or keys
• Floor gyms (great for tummy time)
• Teething toys
• Safety mirrors
• Musical toys
• Cloth toys and dolls

From 6 to 12 months
Baby’s learning how to grab, sit up, crawl, cruise and maybe even walk. She’s also becoming fascinated with the concept of cause and effect. Look for:

• Nesting and stacking toys
• Pop-up toys (baby’s learning that things exist)
• Soft blocks for building
• Bath toys
• Balls that are one-and-three-quarter inches and larger
• Simple shape sorters
• Simple musical instruments, like bells or tambourines
• Squeaky toys
• Cloth and board books

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