The Best Balls for Kids to Play With in the House or on the Field

The Oball Classic is versatile, safe, and fun for kids of all ages

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Big, small, bouncy, squishy, playful, or regulation, balls are wonderful for kids. They can use them for open-ended play or directed games and sports, alone, with a buddy, or on a team. There’s no shortage of balls for babies through big kids on the market, but we found the best toy balls for a wide range of uses, ages, and categories. 

Reviewed & Approved

The Oball Classic is a unique, open-ended toy that is ideal for children to use from infancy. The Koosh Original Ball makes playing indoors destruction-free without skimping on the fun.

“Playing with balls is good for not only muscle development and hand-eye coordination, [but also] social skills, as most ball-playing activities will involve others,” Heather Shafi, MD, FAAP tells Verywell Family. They'll be working on fine motor skills, spatial awareness, problem-solving skills, and balance, too. Whether your kiddo wants to play according to the rules or make up their own game, balls are good to have in your toy arsenal. You'll want them to be durable, age-appropriate, and above all, fun—and that's the criteria we used when making up this list.

Use this guide to find the right ball for your child, budget, and needs.

Best Overall: Bright Starts Oball Classic Ball

Bright Starts Oball Classic Ball

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Easy to clean

  • Inexpensive

  • Versatile

Cons
  • Limited color options

Young babies will have so much fun exploring this 6-inch ball. Made with eight distinct sections, the ball is easy to grab and super soft. Infants will enjoy engaging with each section since they feature contrasting textures, different sounds, and colors. “When babies are able to sit up without support they can start rolling balls back and forth with caregivers," Dr. Heather Shafi says. "They usually start being able to throw [at] around 1.” Since this ball is super soft, it’s safe to roll, toss, and use as a tummy time or crawling motivator. 

Materials: Polyester, velour, mesh fabric, corduroy, and tricot fabric | Age range: 6 months and up


Best for Infants: Haba Rainbow Fabric Ball

Haba Rainbow Fabric Ball

Haba

Pros
  • Soft and colorful

  • Machine washable

Cons
  • Must be laundered if it gets dirty

Young babies will have so much fun exploring this 6-inch ball. Made with eight distinct sections, the ball is easy to grab and super soft. Infants will enjoy engaging with each section since they feature contrasting textures, different sounds, and colors. “When babies are able to sit up without support they can start rolling balls back and forth with caregivers," Dr. Heather Shafi says. "They usually start being able to throw [at] around 1.” Since this ball is super soft, it’s safe to roll, toss, and use as a tummy time or crawling motivator. 

Best Ball Pit Balls: Little Tikes 200 Piece Ball Pack

Little Tikes 200 Piece Ball Pack

Little Tikes

Pros
  • Mesh bag included

  • Versatile toy

Cons
  • Ball pit not included

Whether you use these balls to restock a ball pit, fill up a kiddie pool, or toss around in the backyard, you’ll quickly see that the possibilities are endless. Lightweight and portable, the balls come in a multi-color pack, making them great for open-ended play, sorting, and counting. Parents will appreciate that the balls come with a mesh bag for easy clean-up and storage.

Materials: Non-PVC Plastic | Age range: 2 years old and up

Best Bouncy Ball: Melissa & Doug Froggy Kickball

Melissa & Doug Froggy Kickball

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Pros
  • Versatile uses

  • Affordable

  • Cute patterns

Cons
  • Requires a needle pump to inflate

Bring this multi-purpose ball to a playground, park, or backyard playdate and your kid is going to have a blast. This bouncy ball—which comes in adorable ladybug, froggy face, or pink butterfly designs—is big enough for rolling, kicking, and tossing. 

“Kicking happens shortly after around 15 months old,” Dr. Shafi says of a typical developmental timeline. "[Their] decreased hand-eye coordination makes catching and throwing or kicking proper distances more difficult until 3 to 4 years old."

An important note: The ball is shipped deflated and requires a needle pump that’s not included.

Materials: Rubber | Age range: 2 years old and up

Best Ball for 2-Year Olds: Melissa and Doug 2-in-1 Talking Ball Learning Toy

Melissa and Doug 2-in-1 Talking Ball Learning Toy

Melissa and Doug

Pros
  • Soft fabric

  • Learning tool

Cons
  • Soundbox needs to be removed to wash

This teaching ball checks so many boxes, making it a top choice for young toddlers. We love that it’s oversized and soft, making it safe for indoor play and great for those who don't quite have that hand-eye coordination down. 

The ball will say the alphabet or count when tossed in the air. In addition to providing auditory learning, it has reversible fabric panels with both letters and numbers, so you can swap out the look and lesson of the ball. 

Materials: Fabric outer | Age range: 6 months and up

Best for Indoor: Koosh Original Ball

Koosh Original Ball

Koosh

Pros
  • Soft rubber

  • Versatile 

  • Best for indoors

Cons
  • Can get dirty if playing outdoors

The last thing parents want is a ball bouncing around the house or a hard ball getting tossed near windows, lamps, or televisions. The beauty of the Koosh ball is it’s soft, satisfying for anyone 3 years old and up (adults included), and so versatile. Made of squeezable rubber strands, the Koosh is easy to grab and toss, and just a blast to play with. 

Thanks to the string design, the ball isn’t overly bouncy and lands softly, so you don’t have to worry about breaking things. It’s also a great stress reliever and works as a fidget toy. Parents may be fighting their kids for a chance to play with this classic twist on a ball. 

Materials: Natural rubber | Age range: 3 years and up 

Best Soccer Ball: Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball

Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball

Wilson

Pros
  • Three sizes 

  • Two different color options

Cons
  • Pump not included

A great, classic soccer ball, this option is available in three sizes, and you can use the brand’s chart to find the right one for your kiddo. Since it comes deflated, you will need to pump it up. While some kids may like the traditional black and white colors, others may prefer the shiny blue and black color pattern.

Materials: Rubber bladder, synthetic leather cover | Age range: 8 years and up

Best Football: Franklin Sports Youth Football

Franklin Sports Youth Football

Franklin Sports

Pros
  • Pump included

  • Includes plays drawn on the ball

Cons
  • Kids will outgrow the mini size

This football handles like a full-sized ball but is crafted to be easier for younger kids and smaller hands. Although it is lightweight, this mini football can still go quite far. Kids will appreciate that the rubber cover makes the ball easy to grip and the Spacelace grip helps to guide little hands to the right positioning, enabling them to throw a tight spiral. 

Pint-sized football fans will have a blast with the playbook feature on the ball. There are long and short plays diagrammed right on the side of the football.

Materials: Foam cushion, rubber cover | Age range: 3 years and up

Best Tennis: Wilson Starter Red Tennis Balls

Wilson Starter Red Tennis Balls

Wilson

Pros
  • Color differentiates from standard balls

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Serious players need more than three

These starter tennis balls are made just for kids. While they are the same size as standard tennis balls, they are slower with less bounce, so it’s easier for younger players to develop their tennis game and improve strokes. 

We like how these junior balls are red and yellow, making it easy to distinguish them from standard balls. The three-pack is a perfect starter set, but if your kiddo is serious about tennis, you’ll probably need to invest in more. If you’re not playing tennis, these balls are also fun for a game of catch.

Materials: Felt surface | Age range: 5 to 8 years old 

Best Sensory: Edushape Sensory Ball Pack

Edushape Sensory Ball Pack

Edushape

Pros
  • Easy to clean

  • Come inflated

  • Open-ended fun

Cons
  • No storage provided

Recommended for kids from 6 months old and up, sensory balls are wonderful for open-ended play. Each of the balls comes in a different color and has a distinct feel. The nubby surface of each ball encourages tactile play, and they are easy to bounce, toss, roll, or throw alone or with a friend. We appreciate that the plastic material is easy to clean and safe for little teethers who will put these in their mouth.

Materials: Plastic | Age range: 6 months and up

Final Verdict

The Oball Classic is a super fun ball that may look like a baby toy but will be played with for years to come. It’s lightweight, soft, easy to clean, and a great addition to any play date. The versatility of the ball makes it our top pick. For another engaging and versatile option, the Koosh Original Ball is safe for indoor use, a stimulating sensory experience, and can be used in lots of creative ways. For outdoor play, a classic kickball like the Melissa & Doug Classic Kickball is a winner and prime for tons of games. 

How We Selected

While we have shopped for a wide variety of balls, we looked at options in specific categories. We aimed for products that offered a variety of playing options, affordable prices, and age-appropriate designs. Other factors included pediatrician recommendations, shipping, and return policies, and availability. User reviews (and complaints) were also helpful to find brands that live up to their promises of quality, accurate descriptions, and customer service.

What to Look for When Buying Balls for Kids

Use these tips to find the right ball for your needs, budget, and child.

Material

Choose a material that works for the child's age and stage. Younger kids need balls that are soft and safe to put in their mouths. Older kids should still play with relatively soft balls. “Soft, stuffed balls and larger, light rubber balls are good for infants and young toddlers," Dr. Shafi says "Typical multi-purpose and specific sports-related balls are better as kids get bigger.”

Accessories

When buying balls, especially related to sports, some need accessories like a soccer goal, baseball mitt, or tennis racket. Keep your budget and needs in mind. Tennis balls on their own won’t result in a tennis game unless you have two rackets to get playing. Many balls made for kids come in bundles that include all that you’ll need to get started, so if you are budget-conscious, that could be an ideal option.

Age Level

Many balls come in a variety of age-appropriate levels. Soccer balls are made in sizes 1 through 5, tennis balls come in two strength levels, and other balls are made in varying sizes and weights. The right-sized ball will be safer, more accessible, and therefore more fun for kids.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What age do kids play with balls?

    Balls have benefits for kids of all ages. “Children can start playing with balls as early as infancy, as long as not a chokable size,” Dr. Shafi says. Look for age recommendations on products and make sure any ball that an infant will be using is clean and safe to put in their mouth. 

  • Why are balls good for children?


    Playing with balls has so many benefits for children. They learn coordination, interactive people skills, as well as fine and gross motor skills., They can also gain an understanding of team and social dynamics. Additionally, they are often inexpensive, portable, and fun without any other additional gear. 

  • What are safety concerns to think about when playing with balls?

    While playing with balls can be super fun, it’s important to be safe and choose the right ball for your kiddo and their needs. According to Dr. Shafi, choking is the biggest concern. “I would not recommend any ball that is small enough to fit in a child's mouth, because they are choking hazards," she says. “Be careful with using hard balls with young children that may not be able to catch well, or likewise, may not be able to regulate their own strength or distance when playing ball.” 

Why Trust Verywell Family

Maya Polton is a former marketing manager and current freelance writer who covers food, home, and parenting. She’s also the mom of a 12-year-old son, an 8-year-old son, and a 4-year-old daughter. Maya’s kids are all super, super active, and her house, yard, garage, and even minivan trunk have a huge variety of balls. Since her kids are older, she makes all ball playing take place outdoors to keep her windows and TV safe. She loves keeping a ball in the car trunk. If she ends up at a park or open area, she can always give her kids a ball and know they will create some kind of fun game. 

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