16 Best Toys for 3-Month-Olds to Support Their Development
When baby reaches the three-month mark, they’ll start to take in more of their surroundings, imitate those around them and become more social (get ready for a lot of smiles!). To promote healthy development socially, emotionally and physically, you’ll want to ensure that their playtime is full of age-appropriate fun. That’s where these top-notch toys for 3-month-olds come in handy. Read on to learn more about upcoming milestones to expect and how their blossoming skills will translate to play, and then browse our favorite 3-month-old toys to encourage enriching playtime.
Toy shopping for baby can be all fun and games, but there are several factors to consider when picking up the perfect gift for the 3-month-old in your life. First of all, you’ll want to choose toys that align with their abilities. “Young infants have different needs from toys than older babies, as observation is a key method of learning at this stage,” explains Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. According to Sarno, a few milestones typically reached by infants at this age include:
- Looking at their parents’ faces
- Vocalizing sounds other than crying
- Lifting their head when on their tummy
- Holding a toy when placed in their hand
- Smiling or showing excitement when starting to drink milk or when parent talks to them
- Tracking a moving object or person
To prompt and build on these developments, Danielle MacCourtney, MS, OTR/L, ATP, a pediatric occupational therapist and owner of Tiny Transformations Therapy Services recommends that parents engage baby in a variety of play positions and novel sensory experiences. This could mean introducing your little one to simple tactile play with light textures and rattles, or providing toys that encourage holding with two hands to work on midline orientation. Similarly, Sarno suggests that parents should choose toys for 3-month-olds that can be explored via multiple senses. Mirrors, for example, inspire some of the earliest forms of communication—while also supporting physical skills such as upper body strength—as they can hold infants’ interest during tummy time. Toys for 3-month-olds with musical elements or simple visual contrasts are also great choices, as your newborn continues to learn about the world around them, adds MacCourtney.
As baby’s skill sets progress, it’s important to provide them with age-appropriate toys to help them grow socially, emotionally and physically. According to developmental experts, caregivers should keep the following features top of mind when looking for the best gifts for 3-month-olds:
- Small, lightweight designs: Parents should look for toys that are easy for teeny fingers to hold on to, Sarno says. This is because infants are still working on the strength and function of their hands at this age. Finding 3-month-old toys that prompt baby to reach up while on their back will help them gain foundational grasping skills and promote in-hand manipulation, adds MacCourtney.
- Sensory stimulation: Sarno notes that light and sound can be motivating for babies, when used appropriately. Toys with these features can encourage 3-month-olds to practice eye gaze on a play mat or work on neck strength during tummy time.
- Black-and-white color palettes: Since baby’s eyesight isn’t fully developed at this age, Sarno and MacCourtney both recommend black-and-white toys to engage your infant without overwhelming them.
- Play variety: When adding to baby’s toy box, consider getting a diverse range of playthings to incorporate different senses and motor skills into playtime. Changing up play—and getting baby used to tummy time—“are the most beneficial ways of increasing strength, endurance and co-activation of musculature required for the next developmental milestones,” explains MacCourtney.
At the three-month mark, baby will begin imitating and responding to sounds, which is why you can’t go wrong with a musical toy. This plush cow will keep your little one occupied, thanks to its stimulating combination of textures, sounds and lights that are activated by touch. Better yet, this fun-filled stuffed animal will help baby learn about cause and effect.
Even if your little one hasn’t started teething, this colorful sensory toy is sure to be a hit. Since your child is starting to develop their hand strength, they’ll have fun grasping this teether—plus, when they shake it, they’ll be delighted by the gentle rattle in its center. Toys like this can help baby build motor-development skills, like reaching and holding, adds Sarno.
We’re big fans of Lovevery’s play kits for all ages, so it’s no surprise that this pick makes our list. The Best of Baby award-winning subscription service offers stimulating, age-appropriate play sets for infants and toddlers. Designed specifically for 3-month-olds, The Charmer Play Kit will encourage baby to make new discoveries using their mouth, eyes and hands. Inside, you’ll find a wooden rattle, a soft book and teethers that foster social awareness and motor skills. Each kit comes with a play guide full of expert tips to help parents understand the “how” and “why” behind each included item.
Peek-a-boo! Baby is sure to smile as they find hidden pictures under the crinkly scales of this colorful toy for 3-month-olds. The plush fish has a squeaker tail to help your little one’s grasp strength grow as they play. Plus, one of the scales features a shatterproof mirror to engage baby’s budding social skills.
Inspire baby to reach for the stars with this toy for 3-month-olds. Your child’s imagination will soar to new heights as they explore this multisensory chair complete with a mirror, a rattle and squeakers. What’s more, the cotton chair and its waist harness will support baby as they learn to sit up.
At the three-month mark, baby is becoming more confident in grasping everything in their little orbit. This plush toy for 3-month-olds will grab their attention as they learn how to disassemble and stack soft rings. Putting together this too-cute lion will also help promote hand-eye coordination and motor-skill development.
Some of the best toys for 3-month-olds are those that grow with baby’s evolving needs for months to come—and Lovevery’s Play Gym is no exception. Baby will love its five developmental zones, and you’ll love its simple, aesthetically pleasing design. Best of all? It features detachable activity toys and sets of cards that’ll keep up with your child’s expanding mind from the time they’re an infant until they graduate to toddlerhood.
If your little one isn’t a fan of tummy time, an interactive toy like this one from Baby Einstein is sure to make the experience more enjoyable. This stimulating light bar is easy for small hands to activate and is full of auditory and visual delights. It’s easy to wipe clean (in case of inevitable messes), and its sounds can be played in English, Spanish or French, depending on your preference.
Your little mover and shaker won’t want to put down this gift for 3-month-olds. The unique sensory toy will encourage tactile exploration, thanks to its fun bumpy textures—plus, baby is sure to love how it wobbles and wiggles when placed on the floor. Made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone, it even doubles as a teething toy for 3-month-olds; just wipe it with a damp cloth to keep it clean.
Mirrors are a fun way for baby to learn more about themselves and the world around them. This safari-themed option was designed to keep little ones entertained during tummy time. The soft, colorful frame features crinkly leaves and colorful characters to capture baby’s attention—and when playtime is over, simply fold it up and store it away.
Baby will have eight times the fun with this next toy for 3-month-olds. The plush octopus is cuddly and soft, and when its head is squeezed, classical melodies will play. It’ll even teach your little learner about colors in English, Spanish and French when they hold on to its velour legs.
Lots of infants find comfort in holding and rubbing tags, which is where this next pick comes in. This 3-month-old toy prompts tactile exploration in the form of a cuddly lamb lovey. The sweet character is adorned with nine soft tags for baby to discover as they play and cuddle. It’s also available in the form of a soft, crinkly book for even more fun beyond playtime.
Your little one isn’t swimming yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy this sea-themed tummy time toy. The play mat is made from high-quality PVC, making it durable for even the most wiggly infants. Just fill it up with water and place it on the floor for endless fun! Baby will love reaching for the brightly colored toys floating in front of them and build head, neck and shoulder muscle strength as they do so.
Next up on our list of the best toys for 3-month-olds is this light-up musical toy from Baby Einstein. Sarno is a fan of this shaker for several reasons: For starters, it prompts cause-and-effect play and opens sight, sound and tactile senses. If your little one doesn’t quite have the motor skills to hold it, don’t worry; Sarno suggests shaking it for baby to help them work on their eye gaze or to get their attention during tummy time.
Cute and comfy, this farmer’s market-themed playmat will make a sweet addition to any toy collection. The colorful mat features 10 developmental activities, four garden-inspired toys and a blueberry-shaped squeaker to keep baby engaged during tummy time. What’s more, this 3-month-old toy easily rolls up, so you can take it with you to the park, a relative’s house or anywhere in between.
The last pick in our roundup of the best toys for 3-month-olds is this adorable animated penguin. The sweet, singing stuffed animal is a favorite of Sarno’s because of how it supports cognitive development and can be used to teach imitation skills and concepts like object permanence. Our favorite part about this toy? It blows kisses at baby and teaches them to do the same—how cute!
About the experts:
Jana Sarno, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. She has worked as the vice president of applied behavior analysis at North Shore Pediatric Therapy and as an infant development program administrator at Coyne & Associates Education Corp.
Danielle MacCourtney, MS, OTR/L, ATP, is a pediatric occupational therapist who holds a masters degree from Scranton University. She has pediatric experience in a variety of settings. Since 2014, she has been the owner of Tiny Transformations Therapy Services and the director of the company’s New York City and Long Island branches.