The Best Toys for 4-Month-Olds
At 4 months old, your little mischief-maker is ready for play—hooray! Most babies this age will be reaching for toys, laughing, babbling and copying sounds. They may even be teething already, and they’ll soon start exploring the world around them by putting all the things in their little mouth.
Age-appropriate playthings are the best tool to help you (and baby) embrace these milestones and support their development. After all, infants do learn through play! Not sure what to look for? Read on to discover the best toys for 4-month-old babies, plus expert tips and safety considerations to keep in mind when shopping for your little one.
The best toys for a 4-month-old support their newfound skills. So before you head to the store, read up on baby’s key developmental milestones to ensure a toy is age-appropriate, educational and engaging. According to Alexis Phillips, DO, a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas, at 4 months old, infants will typically be able to achieve the following:
- Support their head while being held
- Use their arms to swing at toys
- Bring their hands to their mouth
- Grip a toy when one is handed to them
- Push up onto their elbows and/or forearms while on their tummy
That said, remember that every child develops at their own pace. “There’s typically no cause for alarm if every one of these items is not checked off at the four-month mark. But if you’re worried and see significant delays, you should seek a pediatrician’s advice,” says Kristen Miller, director of education for Celebree School, a nationwide franchise.
Both Miller and Phillips stress the importance of reading to your child and narrating day-to-day activities, as baby is beginning to distinguish between sounds and voices. Young children start to associate certain words with specific activities, explains Phillips. “A child smiles, laughs and squeals to get the parents’ attention,” she adds. This is why it’s so important to talk to them and respond to the sounds they make. “This allows baby to take turns in conversation, which helps teach them to be social,” she says. In practice, this is as simple as using silly voices, saying an item’s name every time you pass it to baby or using different adjectives to describe new textures. Another good way to support language development is to use board books, hand puppets and musical toys. According to Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers, a simple game of peek-a-boo—or using a toy like Peek-a-Boo Elmo—during diaper changes or tummy time also offer a fun activity for baby that helps support early communication and imitation skills.
Another skill baby is mastering at 4 months is bringing objects up to their mouth. Although this is a simple gesture, it’s an important step towards physical skills, like hand-eye coordination. Phillips recommends providing children with an array of objects—like a teething ring or textured ball—to keep them engaged and help them learn different textures.
As baby develops, their needs change, so toys that kept them busy at 3 months old may be cast aside in a few short weeks. Aside from entertainment value, it’s important that playthings are age-appropriate and safe. Here, find expert tips on what to look for (and avoid) when buying toys for 4-month-olds:
- Choose non-toxic toys that are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking; curious children instinctively place objects in their mouths.
- Find toys that are easy for a 4-month-old to grasp—Miller recommends rattles that make noise and are easily held, as a 4-month-old is working on their fine motor skills.
- Provide a variety of objects with different textures, sounds and colors for added sensory stimulation.
- Avoid items with sharp edges. Again, baby will most likely use their mouth to explore a new toy, so don’t give them anything with sharp edges or loose parts.
- Remember that playtime can be educational too. With this in mind, Miller suggests choosing toys and books with realistic depictions of animals, vehicles and people.
- Monitor baby as they play, especially if they’re in an upright position. “Though holding up their head is a milestone for 4-month-olds, babies at this age have typically not mastered sitting, and may still get fatigued from holding their heads for longer periods of time,” explains Sarno.
- Check the manufacturer age guidelines for all toys, and don’t give baby anything that’s too advanced for their stage of development.
Ready to start your search? Check out our picks of the best toys for 4-month-olds, from sensory toys for tummy time to bath toys to interactive board books.
First up on our list of the best toys for 4-month-olds is a classic Oball. As recommended by Phillips, this colorful ball has 32 flexible finger holes, making it easy for little hands to grasp. It’s made from a soft plastic, meaning baby can chuck it across the room without running the risk of breaking anything.
- Can be used in wet or dry conditions
- Great for learning to grasp
- Dishwasher safe and easy to clean
- Not for teething
Textured tails and crinkly cellophane make reading this soft book a true sensory experience. Each page has a picture of an animal alongside its name; read each page to baby and point to the creature in question as you go. For an extra fun twist you can even try out some animal sounds! It also has a fabric loop that can be attached to a car seat or stroller for playtime on the go.
- Book boasts bright colors and plenty of sensory options
- Comes with a velcro loop for strollers or car seats
- Book contains a non-replaceable battery
Sophie la girafe is the long-reining “it-toy” of the infant world. Why? It’s made from natural rubber and food-grade paints, making it safe for babies to chew and gum on. It’s also soft, easy-to-grip and makes a sweet noise when squeezed.
- BPA free and made from 100% food-grade materials for safety
- Has several different teething surfaces
- Easy for baby to handle
- Prone to mold growth on the inside
- A pricey teething option
A mirror is a good toy for a 4-month-old, as babies can observe their facial expressions when they coo and laugh during tummy time. This child-friendly mirror by Sassy Time is a top-seller and we can see why. The easel-backed design and soft padded exterior lets you rest it on the floor in front of baby, while a spinning black-and-white tracker ball and a colorful bee captivate their attention.
- Features lots of tummy time extras
- Many reviewers feel the mirror is prone to warping
- This toy wobbles on its base
Suitable from birth, this BabyBjörn bouncer keeps kids entertained while you take a moment to yourself. Plus, the gentle bouncing action helps develop motor skills and balance in a natural way. Bouncers that help children stand upright are another good option, as they help strengthen muscles in the legs that support baby as they stand, crawl and eventually walk, explains Phillips.
- Unique design allows baby to bounce him or herself
- Safety strap offers a secure bouncing experience
- Adjusts to several different angles
- Toy bar is sold separately
Miller suggests using a puppet to engage with a 4-month-old. This sweet penguin puppet doubles as a cotton washcloth, meaning you can narrate bathtime and have fun while you scrub them clean.
- A fun addition to bathtime
- Features a hook that allows you to hang to dry
- Terry material is not very soft
Designed by an early childhood therapist for infants up to 6 months of age, this rattle encourages sensory exploration. How? It’s packed with exciting elements, from a light-up head that changes colors to a soft, easy-to-grip handle to a mirror on the base. Granted, it’s a little more expensive than your average rattle, but with so many cool features it’s well worth the price.
- The perfect size and shape for grasping, even at a very young age
- Lights up, which makes it a good toy for low-light conditions like evening car rides
- Hard plastic material
- Many reviewers note a short battery life
When it comes to books and games, Miller prefers options with realistic depictions of animals and people—and this book certainly fits the bill. It’s filled with 100 photographs of everyday objects and simple first words to match. Plus, the soft, padded cover and small size make it easy for little hands to hold.
- Book does a great job of introducing common first words and matching them with easy-to-understand images
- Full color for added visual interest
- Some reviewers feel there are too many images on each page
The best developmental toys for 4-month-olds offer room for baby-led exploration. Case in point: The Baby Einstein 4-in-1 Kickin' Tunes music and language play gym. The perfect addition to tummy time, this mat boasts high-contrast, colorful graphics, built-in teethers, hidden crinkle paper and even a kickable piano!
- Four different modes of play to ensure long-lasting play time
- Developmentally appropriate for this age group
- Play mat is made of thin material that works best on padded or carpeted flooring
- Some reviewers feel the dimensions of the play mat are a bit small
Baby blocks are a classic toy. As your little one stacks, tosses and tumbles the blocks, they work their fine motor skills and practice problem solving. Each colorful block in this set has different textures and hidden elements for added sensory stimulation.
- Tons of different options for imaginative play
- Soft and durable
- Introduce baby to a number of different textures
- Only one of the blocks makes noise
How about a toy that encourages baby to touch their toes? “Four-month-olds are still learning how to use their bodies, as they explore this new world around them,” says Sarno. Toys that encourage them to stretch can help strengthen muscles and develop hand-eye coordination. These socks and wrist cuffs feature a bold color palette and built-in rattles that encourage baby to reach their toes and wave their arms. And since the toys are actually attached to baby, they’re less likely to be misplaced.
- Bright, high contrast colors and patterns are perfect for this age group
- Sizing issues: many reviewers indicate the wrist rattles are tight and the socks run large.
- Socks are made with thin material
Choo-choo, all aboard the boat train! This set of six boats link together to form a train for tons of bathtime fun. For a quick lesson in cause and effect, show baby how to use the boats to scoop and strain water.
- Boats are mold and mildew resistant
- Can string the boats into a line thanks to an included pin/hole on the front/back of each boat
- Lots of ways to play in the bath, pool or water table
- Boats sink due to the hole; they take on water quickly
Flashcards make great gifts for 4-month-old babies, as they offer yet another opportunity for communication. These monochromatic cards feature beautiful illustrations of sea creatures that will engage young children. Sized generously at 5 x 7 inches, these intricate black and white images are sure to fascinate little ones who are just beginning to learn about the world around them.
- Oversized for easy handling
- Black and white images are developmentally appropriate
- Cards can be damaged by drooling and chewing
Introduce basic STEM principles to baby with the help of this wooden maze and clutch toy modeled on a carbon atom. As baby moves the beads across the maze, they’ll hone those all-important fine motor skills all while having fun, of course. Bonus: The toy set comes with a colorful chemistry-themed board book to flip through.
- Comes with two different toys for a variety of sensory options
- Balls are sized appropriately for little hands
- Safe for teething
- Despite its wide base, toy can be pulled over if baby puts their weight on it
“Sensory balls are beneficial for 4 months and older, as babies can grasp them and get accustomed to various textures,” says Sarno. This ocean-themed ball features textured material, a baby-safe mirror and a removable octopus rattle. As your child grows, they can play with this type of toy in many different ways, meaning you get good value for money too.
- This generously sized toy has lots of different options for sensory play
- This is a pricey toy for this age group
Next up on our list of the best toys for 4-month-olds is this best-seller by Baby Einstein. The musical toy has an easy-to-grasp handle, complete with sensory beads, and a large button that baby can use to toggle between 10 classical tunes.
- Plays classical music
- Great price point
- Not the best toy for sensory exploration
This artsy toy features an iconic Keith Haring print, which has been expertly scaled and recolored by an orthoptist to support visual and cognitive development throughout baby’s first year. The strip can be positioned inside a stroller or on the ground during tummy time. Use the black-and-white side at first and then flip it over to the vibrant print once they hit the five-month mark.
- Chic design is aesthetically pleasing for parents too
- Multiple uses make for a versatile infant toy
- Doesn’t fit around all bassinets or stroller handles
Last up on our list of the best toys for 4-month-olds is this beautiful item by Crate & kids. The neutral woodland design is complemented by a mirror, squeaker and other features to help stimulate baby's senses during tummy time play.
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Tough for babies to flip over thanks to a wide base
- Padding makes it difficult to press buttons to make sounds
To decide which toys are the best options on the market, we do the bulk of research for you, leveraging our familiarity with leading baby brands to make sure items are from reliable manufacturers, reading user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products work for families and relying on our own experiences as parents.
To make sure we’re highlighting playthings that are safe and age-appropriate, we spoke with a pediatrician and two early childhood experts to understand key developmental priorities and safety considerations to keep top of mind. Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Alexis Phillips, DO, is a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. She earned her medical degree at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens.
Kristen Miller, director of education for Celebree School, is a leader in early childhood education.
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