The 13 Best Baby Rattles for Little Movers and Shakers
Baby rattles are the ultimate classic toy—they’ve literally been around for thousands of years. But what makes rattles such a timeless choice for babies? For starters, the captivating “rattle” sounds stimulate baby’s auditory senses and help teach them about cause and effect. But the sensory play doesn’t stop there, brightly colored baby rattles with plenty of textures are endlessly fascinating to infants exploring the world through physical touch. Rattles can also strengthen your child’s motor skills as they reach for, grab and eventually shake the toys independently.
Ready to shake things up? Keep reading to discover expert tips on what to look for in a baby rattle—then browse a few of our favorite options to introduce to playtime.
According to Alexis Philips-Walker, DO, a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas, you can introduce a rattle once baby has transitioned out of the newborn stage. In fact, baby’s hearing is fully-developed by month one and they may even turn their head towards familiar sounds, such as their favorite rattle. With that said, baby won’t be able to grip a rattle until they can open and close their fists (usually around the two-month mark). For an accurate gauge on whether a rattle is appropriate and safe for baby’s developmental stage, check the manufacturer age guidelines and read our expert-approved tips below.
There’s an abundance of baby rattles on the market, but before you rush out and buy any old toy, read up on the key considerations to keep top of mind.
Anything you’ll be purchasing for your peanut to play with—especially when they’re a newborn—should be screened for safety. Below find the top three safety considerations to bear in mind when shopping for a baby rattle:
- Wear-and-tear. Before handing a new toy over, check for signs of wear and tear as well as missing or broken parts. “Make sure the rattle is not worn and doesn’t have chips (paint or wood flaking off), rough edges or even parts that could break off and pose a choking risk,” advises Phillips-Walker. While hand-me-down toys are a great way to save money, it’s best to buy rattles new as older iterations may be worn down and may not conform to modern safety standards.
- Size. Remember, baby is liable to put anything (and everything) in their mouth. So when it comes to size, check that the baby rattle is at least two inches in diameter, in order to minimize choking hazards. Large cumbersome rattles may be too heavy for baby to grip and lift, so try to find a middle ground in terms of size.
- Age-appropriate. Always check the manufacturer’s recommended age-range to determine whether a toy is deemed safe for your child’s age bracket. Typically, young infants will benefit from a simple rattle in high-contrast colors, whereas older children may enjoy something a little more interactive and engaging.
Key features that aid healthy development
Beyond reading the manufacturer age guidelines, consider baby’s developmental level and key milestones when seeking out the best rattle toy.
- High-contrast colors: For the first few months, infants view the world in shades of black, white and gray. With this in mind, Philips-Walker likes to introduce newborns to rattles with a high-contrast pattern (think: black, white and red), as they aid visual development and stimulate a baby’s brain growth. Try holding the rattle in front of baby and move it from side to side in gentle configurations, to encourage visual tracking. At the 3 month mark, baby begins to see in color and may enjoy rattles that feature bright primary colors. Between 5 to 8 months, color vision is fully developed so feel free to meet them where they are with rattles in an array of bright, exciting colors.
- Sensory elements: For infants under 6 months old, stick to rattles with limited sensory intrigue. Instead of lights and loud musical elements, look for baby rattles featuring crinkly fabric, pull tabs, poppable buttons or built-in squeakers that make a sound when pressed. A soft shaker filled with beads is enough to stimulate baby’s auditory senses, but for an extra-layer of intrigue try a rattle with bells that create a jingle or chime sound.
- Easy to grasp: Rattles are designed to be held and shaken by babies, but some are easier for little hands to grip. For frustration-free play, opt for a rattle with an elongated handle or a textured handle that’s easy to grasp.
- Interactive features: According to Alexis-Philips, slightly older babies—between 6 to 9 months—are sharpening their motor skills and may prefer rattles with buttons, music and lights that they can activate on command.
- Teething friendly. Where possible, opt for a rattle that’s safe for baby to gum on. “From ages 9 to 12 months, babies are actively teething and putting everything in their mouths, so rattles need to be able to handle aggressive chewing,” explains Phillips-Walker. Our advice? Look for teethers made from BPA-free and non-toxic materials. Options with a textured, bumpy surface also provide a great tactile experience and a gentle way for baby to massage their sore gums.
A note on sensory overload: Rattle play is a great thing and features that captivate baby’s attention are especially noteworthy, but there’s a fine line between sensory enrichment and sensory overload. With that in mind, Philips-Walker advises parents to manage the intensity and duration of sensory play with a rattle. “When it [sensory overload] happens, babies will send signals to parents such as being difficult to calm or console, crying continuously, becoming very fussy and irritable, shutting down and tensing the body,” states Philips-Walker.
Ready to get moving on the baby rattle front? We’re here to help! Using all of Phillips-Walker’s advice, plus our own knowledge, we’ve created a list of 12 outstanding rattles guaranteed to grip your little one. From egg shakers to rattle socks (and more!) browse the best baby rattles below.
At the top of our list is the Bright Starts Oball Shaker Rattle Toy—a rattle that nearly every parent puts on their registry. The rattle’s unique, geometric design, with its textured handle and extra large finger holes, is easy for tiny hands to grab and grip. The clear central section is filled with colorful beads that rattle with every shake. And thanks to the soft and pliable design—and BPA-free plastic material—this rattle toy is safe for teething babies to prod, poke and gum on.
Age range: 0 to 36 months | Material: Plastic | Weight: 0.11 lbs.
- Simple yet engaging design
- Wipe clean only (do not submerge in water)
- Gentle rattle sound may not be as engaging for older babies
There are tons of newborn rattles out there, but bear in mind that infants won’t actually be able to pick anything up until they’re at least 3 months old. Until baby reaches the gripping stage, parents are the real play facilitators here. That’s why we love this multi-use option by Manhattan Toy. The monochromatic design—with pops of red, blue and green—will mesmerize baby. And while the clear rattle ring filled with colorful beads takes center stage here, there are so many other ways to play. Wave it in slow rhythmic patterns to encourage visual tracking, reveal the hidden mirror and show baby their reflection or press the hidden squeaker and crunch the crinkle paper. It can even be attached to a carrier or stroller using a nifty velcro strap.
Age range: 0 to 36 months | Material: Unknown | Weight: 0.17 lbs.
- High-contrast colors
- Can be attached to most strollers and carriers
- Meets CPSIA safety regulations
- Surface wash only
Designed by early childhood experts, the NogginStik is pegged as a must-have toy that lays the foundation for healthy development. With a shake or a tap, the light-up face changes from red to blue to green. This mini light show captures baby’s attention and encourages visual tracking, but thanks to the gentle transitions (no flashing or blinking) it won’t overstimulate the senses. Other standout features include the gentle rattle sound, nubby textured handle and hidden mirror on the base.
Age range: 0 to 12 months | Material: Plastic | Weight: 0.25 lbs.
- High contrast colors
- Easy to grip handle
- Lights-up but doesn’t blink or flash
- High price point
- Batteries required
Choo-choo, all aboard the rattle train! There’s a lot going on here, but older babies beginning to refine their fine motor skills, visual tracking and hand-eye coordination will have a blast playing with this versatile train set. It comes with three soft rattle cars that each emit fun sound effects when you shake or squeeze the body. Baby can pick them up and play with the cars individually or combine the pieces to create a push and go train. With the flick of a switch, this locomotive transforms into a musical toy for another layer of sensory stimulation. Talk about a baby rattle with all the bells and whistles!
Age range: 6 to 12 months | Material: Silicone | Weight: 2 lbs.
- Train cars are soft and squishy—no sharp edges
- Toy offers multiple ways to play
- Musical sound effects
- Batteries required
- Might be overstimulating for younger infants
Egg shakers are like mini maracas that make a gentle swishing sound. There are plenty of palm-sized shakers on the market, but we’re all about this playful animal trio by Skip Hop. Featuring an owl, fox and hedgehog, each rattle makes a unique sound and has a textured tummy for superior sensory stimulation. Take it from a parent who’s used these woodland wobblers to calm a crying child on countless occasions, this trio is at the top of their grip-and-grab game.
Age range: 3 months + | Material: ABS plastic | Weight: 0.2 lbs.
- Easy-to-hold design
- BPA, PVC and phthalate-free
- Not classified as teething-friendly
Simple wooden toys encourage parent-child interaction and reduce the risk of over-stimulation. Designed for use during tummy time, this rolling rattle motivates baby to move and helps develop visual tracking and hand-eye coordination skills. It’s made from FSC-certified, sustainably sourced wood and has a water-based finish, meaning it’s safe for baby to explore with their hands and mouth. Better yet, it’s ready to roll from 12 weeks onwards.
Age range: 12 weeks to 6 months | Material: Wood | Weight: 0.3 lbs.
- Doubles as a tummy time toy
- FSC-certified wood and non-toxic finish
- Comes with a free digital play guide for parents
- Some parents say paint chipped off the wooden beads
Babies love playing with their feet, it’s a fact! So, when you’re looking for a toy that’ll really get them kicking, invest in a genius pair of rattle socks. When your little one wiggles their legs in this cute tiger and zebra footwear, they’ll be rewarded with a unique sensory experience. We love them for pre-and-post-nap enrichment, as your little one can lie in their crib and get a nice grab-and-reach workout in. Of course, supervision is a must!
Age range: 0 months + | Material: Unspecified fabric | Weight: 0.02 lbs.
- Slip-on socks stay put thanks to snug cuffs
- Cute animal design
- One size fits all
- Rattle noise is not very loud
Holding a rattle can be challenging for infants that are still mastering the art of opening and closing their hands. That’s why wrist rattles are a thing. Simply wrap them around tiny wrists using the hook-and-loop straps and watch baby’s delight as they shimmy and shake. The rattle itself is a plush animal character, surrounded by thoughtfully-placed silicone leaves that'll come in handy when baby starts teething. As always, be sure to keep an eye on your little monkey while they play.
Age range: 0 months + | Material: Fabric and silicone | Weight: 0.15 lbs.
- Affordable price point
- Can be worn on wrists or ankles
- Built-in silicone teethers provide sore gum relief
- Baby may lose interest quickly
Teething is no fun—for parents or baby. But Itzy Ritzy’s silicone teething rattle can help soothe the situation. Made with 100 percent food-grade silicone, the rattle has a raised textured surface to massage sore gums and two silicone rings for baby to gum on. It makes a gentle rattle sound when shaken and the circular design is easy for little hands to grasp. We’re suckers for a succulent, but you can choose among a dinosaur, rainbow, sloth and fox design.
Age range: 3 months + | Material: Silicone | Weight: 0.25 lbs.
- Made from food-grade silicone
- Functions as a teether and a rattle
- Must be cleaned regularly with soap and water
Looking for something with a musical element? Philips-Walker is a big fan of the V-Tech Rattle & Sing Puppy, so much so that she bought it for her own kids! Give the doggo a shake and watch his cheeks light up as the colorful beads rattle. Then rub his crinkly, fabric ears or press the button and listen to 30 plus songs, melodies, phrases and sounds.
Age range: 3 to 24 months | Material: Unknown | Weight: 0.27 lbs.
- Friendly, light-up face
- Soft ears with crinkle fabric
- Transparent rattle at the base filled with colorful beads
- Music and lights may be over-stimulating for young infants
We’re bananas over this plush rattle toy! It’s made from organic cotton with shiny gold accents and features hand-stitched details for safety. Baby can clutch it in one hand or give it a shake and listen to the soft rattle sound and cheerful bell hidden inside. Bonus: Meri Meri has a few sweet plush rattles, including an octopus with plenty of tentacles to play with.
Age range: 0 months + | Material: Organic cotton | Weight: 0.1 lbs.
- Hand-stitched details
- Soft rattle noise and bell chime
- Soft knit fabric
- High price point
Get the party started with the LeapFrog Learn & Groove Shakin’ Colors Maracas. Sold as a pair—one rattle features colorful beads ensconced in a transparent, textured globe while the other has a light-up dome that changes colors in time to the music. The dynamic duo introduces colors and numbers and enhances your tot’s motor skills and coordination. Plus, the toy can be used in English and Spanish modes, so you can expose your early learner to both languages.
Age range: 6 months + | Material: Plastic | Weight: 0.66 lbs.
- Three play modes feature songs that introduce colors, numbers and music
- Toggle between English and Spanish language content
- Batteries required
- May be a little heavy for younger babies (even at 6 months)
What’s black and white and rattles all over? This adorable trio of arctic animals. Parents, you can use the hang tag to whirl the baby seal (and both of his friends) across baby’s eyeline, to encourage visual tracking. And once baby is a bit older, they can hug and shake the frosty-sequestered squad on their own. That hand-sketched black and white aesthetic is the icing on top!
Age range: 0 months + | Material: Cotton, PVC and polyester | Weight: 0.66 lbs.
- Small and easy to grasp
- High contrast colors
- Giftable item
- High price point
We get it—there’s a surplus of toys on the market, making it difficult to determine which playthings are the best fit for your baby. To streamline your decision-making process, our goal is to do the bulk of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling through online retailers. We do this by considering a list of criteria when sourcing baby rattles, including developmental benefits, durability, value and, last but definitely not least, safety. This way you can count on getting the best bang for your buck, while also having a dependable toy that’ll meet your child’s developmental needs.
We referenced baby and toddler safety guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and compared notes about milestone-meeting rattles with a board-certified pediatrician (who also happens to be a parent). We also read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these toys work for families, never considering anything less than an average four-star rating.
Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.
Alexis Phillips-Walker, 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.
AAP, Toy Buying Tips for Babies & Young Children: AAP Report Explained, November 2021
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