The 9 Best Developmental Toys for 6-Month-Olds of 2021

Inspire their senses with these fine-tuned picks

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Our Top Picks
This customizable puppy features lullabies and learning activities that will help your little one learn words and feelings.
This 8-piece set of vibrant cups will encourage your kiddo to stack and pour, while developing their number and color recognition.
Enhance baby's cognitive development with this toy, featuring visual tracking, texture for tactile engagement, and a rattle.
Best for Visual Stimulation:
Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror at Amazon
Tummy time just got a lot more engaging with this floor mirror, encouraging baby's recognition and developing vision.
Engage your kiddo's senses and tactile development with this set of sensory balls that are fun for rolling, tossing, and bouncing.
Best Fine Motor Skills:
Fat Brain Toys InnyBin at Amazon
Perfectly sized for tiny hands, it challenges children to explore the different shapes and textures, enhancing fine motor skills.
Baby can strengthen their dexterity with every slide or push that makes the silly monster faces pop up.
Babies can use their growing muscles to improve their gross motor skills by playing with this cube and pulling themselves up.
By listening to the words of this tear-proof book out loud, they’ll begin to mimic language and grow comprehension.

For many 6-month-olds, this is a time of huge growth and development. Some babies will begin babbling, sitting up on their own, or will be starting solid food. Each child is different, so speak with your pediatrician about specific milestones or concerns for your kid. 

To celebrate the major accomplishment of raising your 6-month-old, adding a developmental toy to your child's collection is an appropriate addition. There are many types of development, so consider what’s best for your child and lifestyle.

"By 6 months, a baby is able to roll over and start to sit unassisted. As babies get older, you want developmental toys that encourage your baby to sit up and play, and even start crawling. Once babies become more mobile, they need toys that can keep up," says Laurie Leahey, senior editor at Toys, Toys, Pets & More (TTPM).

To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best developmental toys for a 6-month-old on the market.

Best Overall: LeapFrog My Pal Scout Plush Puppy

LeapFrog My Pal Scout Plush Puppy
Pros
  • Helps child learn words, emotions, counting, and colors

  • Over 40 lullabies with three time-lengths

  • Can be personalized to say child's name

  • Over 15 learning activities

Cons
  • Programming could use some work

Sing, play, and dance along with this cute puppy pal that will help your little one learn first words, feelings and emotions, counting, and colors. Little kids will enjoy that this sweet guy can be personalized with a parent’s smartphone, tablet, or computer, so the pup will know your kiddo’s name.

When it’s time to transition to quiet time, there’s a lullaby timer with 5, 10, or 15 minutes of bedtime music (with volume control) that’ll soothe and calm your little one.

Age Recommendation: 6 to 36 months | Batteries: 3 AA batteries (included)

Best Budget: The First Years Stack Up Cups

Pros
  • Stacking play

  • Free of BPA, lead, or phthalates

  • Numbers on base encourage counting skills

  • Lightweight for babies, sturdy enough for toddlers

Cons
  • Only toddlers might be able to grip

These eight brightly colored cups can be fun for stacking, pouring, and early number and color recognition. Each cup has different variations of holes in the bottom, so your kiddo will love filling them up and watching the water, sand, or other materials trickle out of the bottom. Easy to keep clean, stacking cups are versatile and budget-friendly toys.

Material: BPA, lead, and phthalates-free plastic | Included: 8 cups | Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.5 x 3.25 inches

What Our Editors Say

"For $5, you can't do better. My daughter loved these simple cups so much, we got a set for our house as well as her grandparents'. The set kept her occupied, whether she was making noise with the cups, stacking them...or just throwing them on the floor!" — Lauren Levinson, Editorial Director, Verywell Family 

Best for Cognitive: SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-Up Rattle

Pros
  • Free of BPA, PVC, phthalates, or lead

  • Color-changing lights for visual tracking skills

  • Mirror on bottom for early self-recognition and vision skills

  • Textured body encourages sense of touch

Cons
  • Plastic design could deter some

Increase cognitive development with this multi-purpose toy. Each Noggin Head has color-changing lights that are activated when batted by the baby's hand. The eyes on the face encourage visual tracking, texture on the toy’s body provides tactile engagement, a built-in rattle increases audio engagement, and a mirror on the bottom helps babies see themselves.

Included with the toy is a parent’s guide to monitoring milestones. 

Material: BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalate-free plastic | Batteries: 3 LR44 batteries required (included)

Best for Visual Stimulation: Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror

Pros
  • Easy to set up

  • Rattle and crinkly bee encourage development of touch

  • Mirror stimulates early self-recognition and vision skills

Cons
  • Construction of mirror could deter some

Tummy time just got a lot more engaging (and cute!) with this floor mirror made just for babies. Easy to set up, the easel-shaped mirror stands on the floor while the mirror engages the baby's developing vision. Curious kids will love grabbing for the rotating, clicking, and crinkly bee and ladybug rattle that are both attached to the mirror. 

Weight: 6.4 ounces | Size: 11.5 x 11.5 x 4.25 inches

What the Experts Say

"Milestones at six months relate to the child’s ability to start interacting with the world.  This means recognizing their own faces and faces of important people in their lives.  Children at this age develop an interest in seeing themselves, and I like toys with mirrors that allow themselves the opportunity to see their face in different contexts." Daniel Marston, clinical psychologist, PhD, ABPP

Best for Sensory: Edushape See-Me 4-Inch Sensory Balls

Pros
  • Can be rolled, gripped, tossed, and bounced

  • Easy-gripping nubby texture for tactile development

  • Bright colors for visual recognition skills

  • Made from BPA- and phthalate-free plastic

Cons
  • Some might find it not entirely stimulating

Engage baby’s senses and tactile development with this set of four sensory balls that are fun for rolling, gripping, tossing, and bouncing. The bright color design and nubby surface make these versatile toys for kids of all ages, so they’re perfect for young kids and their older siblings. Parents appreciate that they come perfectly inflated so they’re easy for little hands to grab and grip. 

Materials: BPA and phthalate-free plastic | Size: Four balls, each is 4 x 4 x 4 with an 11-inch circumference

Best Fine Motor Skills: Fat Brain Toys InnyBin Shape Sorting Toy

Pros
  • Textured chunky blocks for grip and touch

  • Stimulates fine motor skills

  • Different styles of blocks for shapes learning

Cons
  • Straps on box might restrict some hands

  • A bit more expensive

Babies will love exploring the textures of the six chunky blocks that are sized just right for little hands. Children are challenged to push the different shapes through the elastic bands of the cube, encouraging fine motor skills, tactile exploration, and experimentation. A versatile toy, kids can put other toys in the bin and it’s all self-contained. 

Size: 5.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches | Shape measurement: 2 inches

Best Cause and Effect: Fisher-Price Monster Pop-Up Surprise

Pros
  • Encourages number recognition in stimulating way

  • Can slide, push, toggle, and twist monster faces

  • Builds fine motor skills

Cons
  • Might work better for older, stronger babies

Learning cause and effect is important as it helps babies realize that their actions result in a response. As babies discover all the ways the monsters pop up, they’ll be learning cause and effect.

Strengthen dexterity with every slide, push, toggle, or turn that makes the silly monster faces pop up. This colorful toy features bright faces and silly noises that will keep your kiddo engaged. 

Batteries: 2AA required | Weight: 1.69 pounds

Best Gross Motor Skills: ALEX Toys Discover My Busy Town Activity Cube

Pros
  • Improves gross motor skills

  • Offers a full-body engagement

  • Five sides of various learning activities

Cons
  • Construction could use some work

Babies can use their large muscles to improve gross motor skills by playing with this cube, sitting at it, pulling themselves up, and eventually standing at the sturdy wooden toy. The five sides of fun include curvy wire rides, peek-a-boo doors, spin and match animals, ABC tiles, and more. While it’s recommended for ages 12 months old and up, most 6-month-old babies can begin playing with this toy and will age into it. 

Measurement: 16 x 12 x 12 inches | Weight: 13 pounds

Best for Language: Indestructibles Basic Word Book Set

Pros
  • 100 percent washable

  • Made from rip- and tear-proof material

  • Can be chewed and pulled on without ruining

Cons
  • Can get a bit wrinkly after washes

An easy way to boost language development and bonding with children is through reading books together. By listening to the words, they’ll begin to mimic language, grasp repetition, and grow their comprehension skills.

This set of six books are super durable and a great way to introduce simple concepts about the world around them. Each book reflects a simple theme and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations. The best part is that these books are made of 100% tear and rip-proof material that can be machine washed.

Included: 6 books | Material: Synthetic, rip, and tear-proof material that’s 100% washable

Final Verdict

You can’t go wrong with The First Years Stack Up Cups (view on Amazon) designed for babies 6 months old and up. They are versatile, inexpensive, and can be used at the beach, pool, bathtub, playroom, or anywhere else.

What to Look for in a Developmental Toy for a 6-Month-Old

Safety 

When you’re out shopping for toys for a 6-month-old, “think large,” meaning you don’t want to buy a toy that has pieces small enough to fit in the baby’s mouth. As for material, avoid toys made with bean-like pellets, loose stuffing, and toxic materials. Pellets or loose stuffing can cause suffocation or choking if ingested while toxic materials may be poisonous.

"If your baby is mobile, block stairs, cover electrical outlets, lock low cabinet doors, and take other appropriate precautions to keep your baby from getting into something or somewhere they shouldn't be," says Laurie Leahey, senior editor at Toys, Toys, Pets & More (TTPM). She continues, "Parental supervision is also really important during playtime. That helps keep baby safe, but parent interaction also helps babies develop language skills and promotes the parent-child relationship."

Developmental Milestones

At 6 months old, a lot of exciting developmental milestones are happening, and many of them can be achieved through play. To help your little one reach their milestones, here are some toy ideas and what skills they will achieve through playing with the toy. 

  • The First Years Stack Up Cups (view on Amazon) are great for the cognitive development skill of passing things from one hand to another. 
  • For language and communication development, the LeapFrog My Pal Scout (view on Amazon) is great for learning vowels. 
  • Babies looking at themselves in the mirror is great for social and emotional development, which can be done with the Sassy Tummy Time Floor Mirror (view on Amazon). 

Types of Play 

Clinical psychologist Daniel Marston, Ph.D., ABPP, recommends "toys that do not limit available activities to one or two things but allow for a variety. In my opinion, this allows the child to develop curiosity and individuality." He continues, "the most important thing that toys offer for children during infancy and the first half of their first year is the ability to not only start to distinguish objects but to interact with the world as soon as they are able."

Understanding your child’s milestones will give you an idea of what steps you need to take to further develop their skills or where you can help them advance. Parents and caregivers should consider buying toys that enhance skills like cause and effect, fine motor, gross motor, and sensory play. Through play, these toys can encourage your baby to reach their milestones:

  • Cause and Effect: Fisher-Price Monster Pop-Up Surprise (view on Amazon)
  • Fine Motor: Fat Brain Toys InnyBin Shape Sorting Toy (view on Amazon)
  • Gross Motor: ALEX Toys Discover My Busy Town Activity Cube (view on Amazon)
  • Sensory Play: Edushape See-Me Sensory Balls (view on Amazon)

Marston recommends that "parents interact with the child when using toys but do not direct the child in using toys. This lets the child develop skills in their own individual way and builds curiosity while fostering individuality."

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 10-year-old son, 7-year-old son, and 3-year old daughter. Her favorite toys for younger kids are simple toys that have longevity and might be enjoyed by older siblings too like stacking toys and book sets.

Additional reporting by Ashley Ziegler

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. How to buy safe toys. HealthyChildren.org.

  2. CDC. What developmental milestones is your 6-month-old reaching? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.