Playtime is vital for a baby’s development. Providing age-appropriate playing experiences and the right materials is important, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Often, the best toys are what you already have in the house (and usually the most fun ones are the things you’d rather they didn’t have, like your sunglasses and phone!).
We’ve compiled this simple list of toy suggestions for each month of your baby’s first year. Babies develop in their own time, so this is just a guide to what your little one might enjoy.
Each toy here has the sole purpose of engaging your baby (so there’s nothing passive that your baby doesn’t interact with, and nothing that requires batteries – you’re welcome!), helping to stimulate their developing senses, and supporting their physical and cognitive development.
First of all, we have to mention THE ultimate toy for a baby’s development: You! Cuddle, smile, chat, sing, and read to them. You and other caregivers provide an abundance of sensory, social, cognitive, and physical nourishment.
1 month old
- Rattles They won’t grasp them in their hands yet, but you can hold them near their face and move them around while they follow with their eyes, which stimulates their visual development.
- Black and white high contrast books/pictures Their eyesight is still underdeveloped so high contrast images stimulate the visual system, and provide lots of entertainment.
2 months old
- Baby play gym There are plenty of these on the market, but you don’t need anything fancy. A mat and a toy arch is great, with the ability to swap and change the dangling toys to provide variety and visual interest. It helps to promote their motor skills as they turn their head and reach for the toys.
- Fabric toys Fabric blocks, books, crinkle toys, and tag toys all provide wonderful tactile stimulation, and visual exploration of shapes and colours.
3 months old
- Crinkle toys These toys provide auditory stimulation, and are great for practicing grasping.
- A baby safe mirror A secure, unbreakable mirror in the play area is excellent for supporting cognitive development, visual activity, and movement.
4 months old
- Teething toys Whilst teething generally starts around 6 months, there are little ones who experience gum tenderness as early as 3 or 4 months.
- Balls Put a few different balls in a basket, with varying colours, textures, and sizes. Your little one will enjoy seeing them roll across the floor and trying to reach and grasp them. Great for tummy time fun.
5 months old
- Shakers Your baby can delight in the sounds something makes when they shake it, at the same they’re exercising their hand and arm strength.
- Sensory bottles and bags These are wonderful at any stage, and you can make your own easily (see our DIY instructions here)
6 months old
- Stackable cups Your baby may be practicing or mastering the skills necessary for sitting up without assistance. These toys help baby to practice hand-eye coordination, while strengthening their trunk muscles.
- Books You can start reading to your baby from birth, but once your little one is sitting, you can give them some board and fabric books to look at while they play to further inspire a love of reading.
7 months old
- Blocks Either cardboard, plastic, or wooden, you can introduce your baby to blocks even if they can’t stack them themselves. They’ll be entertained just by picking them up, looking at the colours, and let’s not forget, putting them in their mouth.
- Push/pull toys Vehicles with wheels that are suitable for babies are great for learning cause and effect, while providing lots of entertainment and physical and visual stimulation.
8 months old
- Peekaboo toys Activity boards or cubes with windows or flaps provide lots of enjoyment, and fine motor skill practice. If your baby is starting to go through the developmentally normal stage of separation anxiety, these toys are excellent for teaching your baby object permanence (people or objects continue to exist even though they can’t be seen).
- Scarves or fabric Not only do these provide tactile stimulation, but they’re good for incorporating more games into your baby’s play that teach them about object permanence if you hide and then reveal toys under the fabric.
9 months old
- Play kitchen Utensils and food containers guarantee a good time for babies, so it’s great to give them access to these things in the kitchen or put them in a basket on the play mat to explore.
- Loveys/comforters According to Red Nose, you can now start to introduce a safe comforter at sleep time if you would like to, but for your baby to become attached to it, it’s best to have it accessible at feeds and playtime as well.
10 months old
- Musical instruments Xylophone, maracas, and drums are all fantastic to introduce your baby to instruments while they practice skills such as grasping, tapping, and banging.
- Climbing frame Wonderful for babies who are pulling themselves up or crawling. Giving them something to climb helps develop their gross motor skills, balance, coordination, and confidence.
11 months old
- Activity tables Perfect for babies learning to stand, a sturdy table that has lots of fun, colourful activities to keep them busy for ages.
- Balance bike A sturdy, three or four-wheeled little bike is perfect to work on their balance and coordination. They also make fun push toys for some little ones.
12 months old
- Rocker An indoor rocking animal/vehicle is not only lots of fun, but it helps to wear your little one out when you’re at home, and also stimulates brain and gross motor skills.
- Push walker Different to the type that babies sit in (you might like to read the warning about baby walker safety for these ones), push walkers help little ones gain walking confidence. A push wagon, sturdy doll stroller, or shopping trolley are some of the options.