The 18 Best Newborn Toys to Engage Your Little One
In their first three months of life, baby is probably asleep more often than not—but don’t be fooled by all that shuteye, your little sleepyhead is going through a lot of physical, social and emotional development. By the three-month mark, you can expect baby to start cooing, recognizing different faces and voices and exploring their surroundings with all five senses. While it’s not all fun and games, play is an important part of helping baby achieve some important developmental milestones. The best toys for newborns tend to feature intriguing textures, high-contrast patterns and easy-to-grasp designs that prompt their brains to build new connections. Not sure what types of toys are up to the task? Read on to discover our top tips for newborn toy shopping, then browse our favorite playthings for the youngest of infants.
When shopping for the infant in your life, you’ll want to make sure the newborn toys you pick out are age-appropriate. This way, baby’s developing physical, emotional and social skills will be supported, as they safely discover and make sense of the world around them. Play mirrors, high-contrast flashcards, colorful rattles and textured, cloth activity books are all standout examples of newborn toys that’ll stimulate your little one’s senses. Better yet, these toys promote baby’s fine motor skills, social abilities, pattern recognition and visual development.
Baby can begin tummy time as soon as they come home from the hospital, says Alexis Phillips-Walker, DO, a pediatrician in Atascocita, Texas. To that end, a play gym or activity mat offers a safe space for baby to play on their back or belly from the get go, adds Mona Amin, MD, a pediatrician and podcaster based in Miami, Florida.
As your child approaches the three-month mark, they’ll also begin bringing objects toward their mouths, says Amin, so be sure to provide teethers on hand, and avoid giving them anything that could pose a choking hazard.
Last but not least, it’s never too early to begin reading to baby. Phillips recommends black-and-white board books or textured cloth books, which prompt newborns to recognize certain images and aid in speech development. And when storytime is over, baby can explore these infant-friendly books with their hands—and their mouths!
From crinkly books and colorful teethers to activity mats and soft blocks, there are a lot of toys for newborns to choose from. To narrow down your search, keep these features in mind when shopping for your little one:
- High-contrast patterns. As your newborn’s eyesight develops, it’s easier for them to see black-and-white or colorful images. Phillips adds that visually stimulating patterns will keep baby’s attention during playtime.
- Easy-to-hold designs. Baby is learning how to hold onto objects, so stick to infant toys that are easy for teeny-tiny hands to grasp. Interesting textures also promote tactile stimulation and teach baby about their sense of touch.
- Interactive toys. Look for playthings that engage baby’s five senses.Toys with soft sounds, music or squeakers encourage baby to make noise, which is critical in language development, says Phillips.
- Safety. For your newborn’s safety, Phillips suggests choosing infant toys that are larger than your child’s mouth. Likewise, they shouldn’t have any loose or small pieces that could potentially be ingested.
Remember, almost anything can be a play item at this age. Amin suggests walking around your home, describing what you see and letting your child feel different textures (maybe a soft blanket or a silk scarf) to teach them about their surroundings. What’s more, it’s important for parents to engage with baby, so consider picking out newborn toys that you can use together. After all, playing and learning go hand-in-hand at this stage.
Now that you know what to look for in toys for newborns, shopping for the perfect playtime picks will be a piece of cake. From stimulating sensory toys to soothing cuddle buddies, check out our favorite baby toys for 0- to 3-month-olds below.
Spark your little one’s curiosity for music with this take-along toy for newborns from Baby Einstein. The plush, smiling star plays six classical tunes and has gentle light features that are sure to keep your infant engaged. Best of all? The musical toy can even be clipped to baby’s car seat or stroller for entertainment while you’re out and about.
Introducing baby to tummy time? Floor mirror toys for newborns keep little eyes and minds engaged while they strengthen their motor skills. Take this pick, for instance. It features a high-contrast design, soft teething elements and a large mirror to help develop baby’s budding social skills. Plus, this newborn toy is portable and can be stored flat for your convenience.
This infant toy is a beloved classic. The adorable giraffe is flexible and easy for tiny hands to hold on to—plus, gently squeaks when squeezed. And for your peace of mind, the teether is made from natural rubber and food-grade paints that are BPA-, PVC- and phthalate-free.
Not sure what to gift the infant in your life? You can’t go wrong with a play kit from Lovevery. This particular option contains a variety of age-appropriate newborn toys designed to stimulate little ones up to 12 weeks old. The high-contrast images and sensory toys will help baby create new brain connections as they become more aware of the world around them.
Next up on our list of the best toys for infants is this too-cute soother. The plush walrus plays relaxing music and vibrations to calm baby as they cuddle it. And when this stuffed animal is in need of a bath after going on adventures with your little one, simply remove its electronics and pop it in the washing machine.
Teeny-tiny hands love to explore new textures, which makes this crinkly leaf a top-notch newborn toy in our eyes. Baby can grab, squish and squash these high-contrast leaves to their delight. Plus, the lightweight design makes them ideal travel toys.
This colorful newborn toy has thousands of five-star reviews—and we can see why. The captivating teether is made up of various, BPA-free tubes for your child to chew and hold on to; plus, the middle contains a rattle for extra auditory fun. If baby is teething, place it in your fridge before playtime to provide additional comfort.
Does your infant keep losing their pacifier? Then this newborn toy is a must-have. The mini stuffed animal will help them keep track of their binky whether they’re playing, cuddling or snoozing. Parents also say that pacifiers are less likely to fall out of their infant’s mouth, thanks to this plushie.
Black-and-white infant toys stimulate developing minds without overwhelming them. This board book is full of high-contrast images of baby animals that your child is sure to love. What’s more, its durable design can withstand being chewed, tossed, stacked and anything else your little busybody has in mind.
On the hunt for an adorable activity gym for baby? Look no further than this pick from Skip Hop. Your newborn will love exploring their senses by experimenting with the mat’s textures, sounds and colors. This play gym includes more than 17 activities designed to support baby’s development, as well as five hanging toys for infants, like an avocado-shaped rattle and a musical bunny.
Rattle toys for newborns are sure to make your little one smile, and this clutch ball is no exception. It has an internal rattle to pique baby’s senses, and thanks to its unique design, it’s easy for little hands to grasp. The handcrafted newborn toy is made from 100 percent organic muslin and cotton, and can be wiped clean with soapy water.
Need some newborn gift inspiration? Monti Kids has got you covered. This set contains an array of newborn toys each picked to support baby’s developing vision and fine motor skills. Inside, you’ll find a wooden rattle, a teether, black-and-white flashcards, a tummy time mirror and more for young infants to enjoy.
Too-cute graphics? Check. Crinkly texture? Check. Age-appropriate activities? Check. This newborn toy has it all. The colorful soft book contains several pages to stimulate baby’s growing awareness of their surroundings. All five of your infant’s senses will be engaged, thanks to the book’s squeaking songbird, teething corner and soft mirror.
It’s no secret that infants love exploring the world around them through touch. This sweet lovey promotes tactile stimulation, thanks to its satin ribbon loops. Plus, the cuddle buddy’s ultra-soft fabric will help soothe baby throughout the day.
Though your newborn can’t stack and sort these blocks just yet, they can still have fun discovering their stimulating colors and textures. A sun-shaped peek-a-boo mirror, a springy frog leg and a soft satin seashell are just a few of the delights offered by this infant toy. And when playtime is over, these blocks can be easily wiped clean for your convenience.
The best toys for newborns are designed to stimulate all five of baby’s senses, and this vibrant learning cube is no exception. The developmental toy for infants features high-contrast graphics to support visual learning and pattern recognition. Plus, the cube will help baby learn cause and effect as they experiment with its various textures and activities.
Searching for a newborn toy that will keep baby occupied while you’re out and about? This pick has got you covered. The soft, cloud-shaped plush ring was created with tiny hands in mind and can be easily grasped by infants. What’s more, it has textured teether elements and silky-soft details for your newborn to discover.
Last on our list of the best toys for newborns is this sensory key ring from Fat Brain Toys. The Dimpl Clutch consists of three squishy, textured silicone toys for baby’s hands (and mouth!) to explore. Whether you’re playing at home, in the car or anywhere in between, this portable newborn toy will be there to keep baby occupied.
About the experts:
Alexis Phillips-Walker, DO, is a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. She earned her medical degree from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens.
Mona Amin, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician based in Florida. She is also the host of the PedsDocTalk podcast. She received her medical degree from ATSU School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, and completed her pediatric residency at the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital in Albany, New York.