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The Best Baby Toys to Boost Your Child’s Brain

Trying to pick out the best baby toys on the shelf can be a bit overwhelming.

Primarily because of one thing: Babies are TERRIBLE communicators. They have the communication skills of a caveman, which results in some very uneasy purchasing decisions.

What if you shell out $250 for that Johnny Jump-Up? Only to discover that your 9 month old prefers the box?

I’m here to help.

How to Choose the Best Baby Toys for YOUR Baby

I know this seems crazy-simple, but sometimes the best toys are the ones that fly below the radar. They are not necessarily the ones that are plastered all over the Walmart catalog or taunting you from the aisle caps at Target.

They are sneaky. They are the ones that have won all the awards, received thousands of parent-loving reviews, and actually do more than just beep boop.

You want to boost those brain cells all the way to Sheldon Cooper Status? You want to invest in more than just a colorful piece of plastic, but watch your baby jump ahead on his milestones and leave you running to keep up?

These are the best baby toys for THAT kind of shopping.

The Best Baby Toys for 0—3 Month Olds

The best baby toys for this newborn age range (Zero to 3 Months) are going to focus on three things:

  1. Helping your baby learn how to track both eyes together
  2. Strengthen his neck muscles
  3. Encourage him to reach and successfully grab things

That last one is actually a big deal. It requires his brain to go through a series of steps. He has to recognize there is something in front of him, have the desire to touch it, and then manipulate his arms in front of him to grab the object. That’s complicated for a newly functioning brain!

Here are the best baby toys for 3 months old and under that will help tackle all of those skills.

The Best Baby Toys for 3—6 Month Olds

Somewhere between 3-6 months old, your child is going to go through a radical transformation. That newborn is going to start fading into the background, and a fully-engaging and interactive baby is going to emerge giggling, smiling, and stealing the show.

FYI, this is also around the time when everyone’s sleep goes down the toilet, so if you’re dealing with that right now, firstly: condolences, secondly: this article will be a huge help.)

Here are the three things you want your child to practice during these formative weeks:

  1. Practicing his finger movements (opening and closing) by turning pages and lifting flaps.
  2. Understanding that objects exist, even when they move out of immediate view
  3. Strengthening his lower body as he prepares to crawl and walk

And here are the best baby toys for 3 to 6 month olds in learning those skills!

The Best Baby Toys for 6—9 Month Olds

Your baby is starting to get stronger and stronger at this age, as his body prepares to start moving around. The best baby toys for babies at this age will help encourage him to do these four things:

  1. Continue to help him work on his eye-hand coordination.
  2. Let him practice taking things out and putting things in.
  3. Allow him to explore how to stack items (and then knock them over!)
  4. Provide opportunities for him to learn cause and effect: when I touch this button, this happens!

Here are the best baby toys for 6, 7, and 8 month olds.

The Best Baby Toys for 9—12 Month Olds

Can you believe his first birthday is just around the corner? Where has that little frogger gone! (BTW, if you need some inspiration for awesome birthday party themes, I’ve got you covered.)

Curious what awesome brain discoveries he’s going to make during these months? Check them out:

  1. Continuing to understand cause-and-effect
  2. Balancing the upper body and walking
  3. Obtaining better control of her fingers and hands

Here are a smattering of baby toys best suited to meet these milestone goals.

The Best Baby Toys for 12+ Month Olds

Sometime around her first birthday you’ll notice a change. She’s tired of sitting around and watching everything happen around her. It’s time to jump up and start getting involved! 

She wants to make all the noises! He wants to roll all the balls! The best baby toys at this age will be highly interactive as your tiny tot works on these brain skills:

  1. Better ability to put things in and take things out
  2. Understanding how to sort things by type (like animal) and colors
  3. Putting puzzles together
  4. Strengthening those leg muscles and working on balance so he can start running.  (Yes, your life is over.)

Those skills will happen a lot faster with a few really good milestone-focused toys to inspire practice!

The Best Baby Toys Will Match Your Child’s Current Milestones

I’ve said it for before, but it bears repeating.

If you want your child to start playing with the toy you bought, and not just the box, pay attention to the skills she finds most fascinating to practice right now, and then find the toy that will let her do that over, and over, and OVER again.

These are the best baby toys designed to do just that. When you’re done with those, I’d recommend some playtime with your child’s FAVORITE toy: you!

Here are a year’s worth of fun and developmentally-appropriate baby games to get you started.

Let the bonding begin!

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13 thoughts on “The Best Baby Toys to Boost Your Child’s Brain

  1. Thanks Toan! Just because something is plastic doesn’t mean that it has BPA. There are plastics that are made in a different way that don’t have BPA in them. That’s the case of these blocks – they are plastic, but they aren’t BPA plastic. (Make sense?)

    That said, if you’re not comfortable with them, no pressure! There are plenty of wooden blocks out there that may be a better fit. Have you seen these wooden periodic table blocks? Pretty cool…

  2. Heather – love your site. Just a note – B. Blocks under toys for 6 to 9 months are not BPA free..they are made of plastic so I didn’t order them. Just fyi.

  3. I actually disagree! My son had low muscle tone and it was recommended to me by his therapist to put him in his jumperoo for 15-30 minutes a day. That, along with other exercise did help to strengthen his leg muscles! I believe you’re right on the money, Heather! Great suggestions!

  4. Hi, your suggestion of #6 in the 3-6 month section, does not “strengthen muscles for crawling and walking”. Jumpers and Exersaucers are just baby sitters and do not help to strengthen the muscles needed for crawling and walking. They give infants too much support. They do not promote strengthening of a baby’s core muscles that are needed for rolling, sitting and crawling. Tummy time is the essential activity to promote at 3-6 months so that neck, shoulder, trunk and hip muscles develop for independent sitting and movement. 🙂 Debbie (Doctor of Physical Therapy)

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