It’s Play Time! The Best Toys For Baby’s First Year
Play looks different at every age, especially in baby’s first year. Even simple actions, like talking to baby, count as play activities in the early months of their life! Play can happen during routine activities (like Tummy Time or bath time). It can also be a set of simple games and activities that keep baby engaged. In baby’s first year, play helps them:
- Learn about the world around them
- Encourage social interactions and language development
- Get them moving and working their motor skills
- Develop important life skills
Playtime can be even better with toys! So, which toys are the best to help baby’s development in their first year? Here are some of our recommendations!
• No small, removable parts.
• No sharp edges.
• It’s best if the toy can be cleaned.
• Check out our other toy safety tips here!
Anything to help with Tummy Time. Tummy Time will be an important part of baby’s physical development, especially in the first 6 months of their life. Some toys that will help with this are mirrors, so they can look at their reflection while in Tummy Time, rattles, teething toys and play gyms.
Toys that engage their senses. Baby’s senses are rapidly developing in the first year! Toys can help to engage some of the senses, such as their hearing and vision. Some toys that help with senses are:
- Hearing: Rattles, toys that squeak, and simple musical instruments like egg shakers.
- Vision: High contrast toys help with baby’s vision development. Look for black-and-white toys to help baby.
- Touch: Squishy and soft toys, like stuffed animals, can bring baby comfort. There are also sensory sets, which give baby a variety of textures to touch.
Toys that strengthen fine motor skills. Strengthening these skills helps with using our hands and feet. Some toys that can help with motor skills are stacking cups, balls, and plastic link toys.
Bath time toys. Bath time can be challenging for some babies, but it’s an important part of their care. Simple toys like cups and bath-safe boats can be used to make bath time more fun. Remember to keep bath time safety in mind while baby plays.
Balls. Balls are a versatile toy that your little one can play with in a variety of settings. The balls they play with should be soft and lightweight. They should be large enough that baby can’t swallow them; looks for balls that are larger than your baby’s mouth. Playing with balls can help encourage crawling and with baby’s motor skills!
Teething relievers. Teething is the time when baby’s teeth begin to emerge, and it can be uncomfortable for baby. They will begin to feel the effects of teething around 3-12 months (although teething discomfort may last beyond baby’s first year). Teething toys are made especially to go in baby’s mouth, so they can chew on them and relieve some of the discomfort they may be feeling.
Toys that encourage standing. There are activity tables baby can stand at while playing. This is a particularly good exercise as baby gets closer to their first birthday and begins to stand on their own. There are a wide variety of activity tables available, and some have options for sitting and standing.
Toys that teach them about communication. Baby may not be able to speak or read in their first year, but they’re still learning so much about how to communicate. Some toys that help with communication are:
- Board books or soft cloth books. If the books have any touch-and-feel features or sound features, they can also be a great sensory experience!
- Toys that make sounds. These can be a great way for children to learn how to associate sounds with different objects or animals, and to mimic those sounds themselves.