The Best Toys for 8-Month-Olds, According to Experts
At 8 months old your little one is getting stronger and more mobile by the day. At this age, most babies will be sitting, scooting and possibly even crawling (uh-oh, time to babyproof). In addition to these these physical milestones, baby is likely more curious than ever and a keen observer of the people and places around them. While it’s wonderful that baby’s becoming more observant and active, this also sets the stage for separation anxiety. Don’t worry, this is perfectly natural and an indicator of a healthy parent-child bond.
To support baby’s development, curb clinginess and help build new skills, you’ll want to fill their toy box with age-appropriate playthings. And that’s where our list of the best toys for 8-month-old children comes in. Read on to learn more about baby’s key milestones and play behavior at this age, then browse our list of expert-approved toys.
The eight-month mark is an exciting time for new parents. “Baby’s becoming more mobile, more communicative and exploring the world around them,” says Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. To get the most out of playtime and support baby’s development, read up on key milestones and choose toys that match their abilities. According to Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, a family doctor in Nashville, Tennessee, at this age infants typically reach the following developmental markers:
Starting to pull up into a standing position
Recognizing familiar faces
Rocking back-and-forth on their hands and knees
Picking up objects with a thumb and forefinger (aka mastering the pincer grasp)
Passing objects from one hand to the other
Making sounds like “ma-ma-ma-ma” and “ba-ba-ba-ba”
Expressing a range of emotions through their face and body language
Remember, every child develops at their own pace. “Milestones are a spectrum and a continuum, so just because your baby isn’t doing some or all of these things, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a problem,” notes Purdy.
To build on baby’s blossoming physical and social skills, Purdy recommends toys that involve reciprocal interaction or illustrate cause-and-effect. Rolling a ball back and forth illustrates this, as do toys with buttons that trigger lights or sounds. And as baby is refining their hand-eye coordination skills, Purdy also advises introducing small, easy-to-grasp toys that they can pass from hand to hand.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need traditional toys to engage with your 8-month-old. Jennie Monness, an early-childhood educator and co-founder of Union Square Play in New York City, suggests incorporating everyday household items into playtime. “Using a bandana to play peek-a-boo will have your 8-month-old in fits of giggles, and help them learn about object permanence,” says Monness. You can even use a colander to up the ante; baby will be able peer through the tiny holes. What’s more, these kitchen items make amazing bath toys. When it comes to playtime (and playthings!), get creative.
Baby’s developing in leaps and bounds at this point, so keeping them occupied can feel like a full-time job. The best playthings are fun, educational and entertaining. Aside from the fun-factor, it’s important that toys are age-appropriate and safe. Below, expert tips on what to look for and safety considerations to keep in mind when buying toys for 8-month-olds:
Size of parts. At this age, kids love to put things in their mouths. But small toys or items with loose parts can pose a safety risk. With this in mind, choose non-toxic toys that are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking.
Prioritize safety. Infants experiencing separation anxiety may become particularly attached to a baby blanket or lovey. Make sure to follow safe sleep practices; blankets and stuffed animals shouldn’t be in baby’s crib at this age.
Embrace different textures. Monness likes to introduce children to a variety of textures and materials through playtime. With this in mind look for colorful toys that feature crinkly fabrics, hidden rattles and knobbly or squishy surfaces.
We love simple yet effective toys for 8-month-olds. Pull back one of the vehicles, then release to watch it zoom across the floor. It’s a great play activity to teach baby about cause and effect while working those fine motor skills.
Purdy recommends a push-along toy for kids this age. The Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker by VTech offers flexible play options, making it perfect if baby is still finding their balance. Simply fold up the legs and remove the activity panel for tummy time, then attach it to the two-speed walker, once baby is ready to test out those first teetering steps. This type of toy is a safer alternative to traditional sit-down baby walkers, which pose a safety risk.
Stacking cups—like this set by Mushie—make great toys for 8-month-olds. Stackable toys offer opportunities for repetitive play, which kids love. “They’re especially fun in the bath, as baby can fill, pour and watch the water sprinkle out the bottom for an extra sensory experience,” says Sarno.
At the eight-month mark, some children will start to show a preference for certain objects, whether that be a stuffed animal, security blanket or even an old sock (it happens). Whatever the object of your child’s affections may be, Monness encourages parents to honor this attachment, as it can be a source of comfort and help baby self-soothe in times of stress. This bunny lovey by Jellycat makes the perfect security item, as it’s soft, snuggly and safe from birth on—just don’t let baby take it to bed.
Another expert-approved pick? The Explore & More Follow-Bee Crawl Toy by Skip Hop. “Toys with movement and sound can encourage crawling, language and sensory development,” Sarno explains. By spinning in circles and staying close by, this motorized toy can encourage baby to crawl. Once your little one catches up the bee, it stops moving for a quick lesson in cause and effect. Trust us, you won’t bee disappointed in this cool toy for 8-month-olds.
Babies love to touch soft things, and put their hands and mouths on different textures, says Purdy. So this sensory play mat by HABA is sure to delight your little one. Fill up the cute koala with water, and watch as baby pushes and prods its tummy filled with floating shapes.
Musical toys like egg shakers, rattles or a soft crinkle book can keep even the wiggliest infants entertained. Sarno recommends handing baby this innovative rattle by Sophie la Giraffe to distract them during diaper changes. It has a motion detector, so the sound speeds up or slows down depending on baby’s rhythm.
Introduce your little one to new colors and textures with this set by Miniland. Made from sustainable rubberwood, each unique ball is designed for little hands to grip and explore. And since the materials are soft and non-toxic, it’s perfectly safe for baby to gnaw on or gum.
Communication is really budding at this age, says Sarno. Caregivers can support language development by having fun with sounds. For instance, when playing with a set of farm animals—like this one by Melissa & Doug—imitate the animal noises in addition to saying the name of each creature.
Teething toys with sensory elements are another good choice for 8-month-old infants. We like this magical dragon made with natural rubber and soy-based inks. It’s small enough for little hands to grip, and has cotton crinkle wings for an extra element of surprise.
Experts stress the importance of reading to your child. Picture books based on classic nursery rhymes like Itsy Bitsy Spider (or Los Pollitos for Spanish speakers) introduce language in a new, fun way. “It may seem like baby isn’t focusing or listening, but they’re truly taking it all in,” says Monness.
Baby may be too young to crawl, but it’s not too early to introduce a pikler triangle. Start by rolling a ball down the ramp to teach baby about cause and effect. As your little one gains confidence, they can start to climb and explore their surroundings.
Last up on our list of the best toys for 8-month-old infants is this cool stacking toy. The unique, textured pieces and bright colors invite exploration, and baby will delight in spinning, stacking and toppling the tower that they’ve created.
About the experts:
Laura Purdy, MD, MBA, is a family physician and digital health expert based in Nashville, Tennessee. She earned her medical degree from Uniformed Services University.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.