The best toys aren’t always the ones with the most commercials, or in every Walmart or Target catalogue. While we have (and love) our fair share of toys that are purely bright and have cheerful music, some of the best baby toys aren’t the most obvious. Babies are learning through play and they are hitting developmental milestones at lightening speed. So there are some toys that help them reach those milestones just by playing! When I think about baby Christmas gifts- I focus on durable toys that help babies work on specific skills or on classic toys that are most loved by parents.
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Related: The Ultimate List of Preschool Gift Ideas and The 31 Best Toddler Gift Ideas
The following gifts are organized into age range from 0-12 months. If you are looking for older children, check out the toddler gift ideas for 12 months-3 years old or the preschool guide for 3-5 year olds.
Baby Christmas Gifts for 0-6 Months Old
Hand- Eye Coordination- Rattles & Teething Toys
Some of the best toys for 0-6 month babies work on hand-eye coordination. They are pumping their arms and legs, reaching out for things and slapping stuff away.
- A great colorful teething and rattle toy.
- Manhattan Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy– made with sustainable wood and natural materials is a great alternative to the plastic teething toys.
- Wooden Montessori Styled Baby Rattle– If you are looking for a more green toy this is a great start- organic wood, sanded and sealed with a mixture of organic coconut oil and beeswax, all natural pieces and colors.
- Icy gel teether keys– teething may not start until 5 months, but it can be as early as 3 months.
- Baby wrist rattle and foot finders are fun additions to help them find their hands and feet during mat play.
Language Development- Books
- Board books make great gifts for this age. Books help with language development and bonding. They will have a vast extension of words that you may not use in your ordinary speech.
- Soft interactive books or this pack of 6 books can withstand teething, bath time and rough play. These serve a double purpose of play and language.
Interacting with Others
In the same fashion they are learning to absorb language, babies are working on other modes of communication. They are interacting with us by observing our movements and mocking our facial expressions.
- Tummy time floor mirror gives a perfect view of themselves while also practicing motor skills. Looking at themselves will help your baby learn all the different human expressions
Muscle Development: Playmats & Tummy Time
Those initial baby push ups are so incredibly adorable to me. After being able to push their head and chest up with their arms, they begin to roll over. Your baby may accomplish this in month 3 or later. But these playmats are perfect gifts for young babies.
- Tiny Love Magical Tales Mat– Extra large mat for your baby as he grows and rolls around the space.
- Music playmats are a lot of fun! They get a real kick out of playing the piano with their feet. Pun intended. 😉
- Lovevery Play Gym– Organic accessories, sustainably harvested wood. Water-based non-toxic finishes. This one is pricy but the materials used are all completely natural and it has suggestions for how to use it through the toddler years.
Sense of Touch- Toys with Texture
Another big work for babies at this age are appreciating touch and the sensorial experiences of toys with different textures. Your touch will always be number one- but having a variety of toys that are soft, hard, fur, crinkly, felt, terrycloth will stimulate your baby’s developing sense of touch. Most of these toys fall into the categories above- as playmats will have a couple and rattles come in different materials.
- Crinkle dolls–crinkle books were listed above under language development. Babies love the sound and texture of these toys and satisfy their need to touch.
- Multiple texture rainbow stacking rings– has a variety of colors and sensory play options.
Large Motor Skills
These toys may be more appropriate for your baby at 4-6 months. They need to have strong head control before they can be placed in any jumper or exersaucer.
But they are game changers! The level of fun and activity they have in these things is phenomenal. I felt like it led to better sleep and engagement, because it’s such a good workout and stimulation.
- This jumperoo was the BEST purchase we made at this age! All three of my boys loved this thing and had some super exciting jumping times. And it lasted perfectly through all 3 as well.
- Evenflo Exersaucer– another great option for sitting and bouncing play.
- We had this infant seat at my parents’ house and it was a great option for this age range before they can sit up on their own.
- Anything like this lil’ critter that is soft and cute with music can leads to endless fun.
- Oball classic ball– play lasts well beyond 3 months as they change the way they play with it.
- Baby Einstein Music Explorer Toy– music toys have always been a hit. We started with toys like this and moved on to play guitars and microphones as the boys got older.
6-9 Month Old Babies
Cause and effect toys like these ball roll slides are awesome for developing problem solving skills and learning the reactions of their actions.
Bath toys– like these adorable baby sharks, because sitting up in the bath means play time!
VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube
This cube has lots of interesting things to fiddle with and figure out. Lots of motion sensor activities and melodies to enjoy during play.
Small World Toys Knock Knock Blocks
Soft blocks, for stacking, throwing, chewing and exploring the various colors and pictures. I love to grab some of these in the diaper bag for travel. They are so light and soft, so fun to bring out at grandma’s house or a hotel room.
Babies can touch different buttons on this cube, each one symbolizing various instruments. Together, it can play 8 different Mozart compositions. Perfect introduction to music and sensory play.
Babies work on motor skills, spatial reasoning, coordination and sensory exploration while working on stacking, spinning and toppling this tower toy. Made with quality materials and made for lots of open ended play.
This car is a fun alternative to the stroller when going to the park or taking walks. Both my boys love it!
9-12 Month Old Babies
VTech Sit to Stand Learning Walker
Sit to Stand Learning walker -5 star rating on Amazon after 4k+ ratings. It is a classic, tried and true toy to practice pulling up, walking and a big plus is the tablet in the front that can be separated for its’ own toy.
Push and pull toys like this wooden tray are a lot of fun for early or developing walkers. This one in particular has quality wood craftsmanship and sustainably sourced materials. It offers open ended play but also years of play based on the quality.
Melissa & Doug Band in a Box Instrument Set
Musical Instruments, you can start here but the possibilities are endless. We have tons of instruments and the boys have a lot fun with them still.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Pounding Bench
Pounding bench wooden toy, helps work on fine motor skill, color identification and just plain banging fun. Again, I love the solid wood construction on this one.
Grimm’s 6-Piece Rainbow Stacker
This toy is worth the price. The way your baby and then toddler plays with it will change and evolve, which is exactly what you want. Their imaginations soars with this toy by stacking or making them into houses or tunnels during pretend play.
EverEarth Garden Activity Cube
Tall wooden activity cube that babies can play with while sitting but also encourages pulling up to standing. Has lots of interactive play without the batteries. It’s a durable classic toy that is proven to be loved time and time again.
A more recent trend for kids and toddler toys has been monthly subscription boxes. We’ve explored a few of these with my two older sons and just started MontiKids for my youngest Rhys. It can seem pricy- but I have a promo code you can use! And you get your money’s worth. They use the best materials, align to your baby’s developmental milestones, arrive at your doorstop without additional thought and provide instructions for extending play.
- MontiKids– Use promo code URBANMOM to save $30 & receive free shipping! My oldest is in a Montessori school and I love that I can start that kind of education at home. You don’t have to do a lot of research and decide what you need for each age. They have done that for you and provide the resources you need to understand the materials and how your kids can enjoy them.
- Lovevery– the same company that makes the play gym listed above also has a monthly subscription. A bit more economical than MontiKids, because you can do it monthly while MontiKids is billed every 3 months. They are very similar concepts and toys though. A lot of parents love this subscription. I would look through both websites and decide which is a better fit for your household.
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