The 7 Best Developmental Toys for Babies of 2022

Little ones learn through play with rattles, teethers, music-makers, and more

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The first year of a baby’s life is full of developmental milestones. As babies grow and change, they do their best learning through play. There are plenty of toys aimed at developing babies’ increasing skills and helping them build their muscles through movement.

Reviewed & Approved

The Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether can be used by newborn babies as they develop fine and gross motor skills as they grasp, shake, rattle, and teethe with the colorful toy. For a musical toy little ones can hold and learn to control on their own, we recommend the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.

When searching for developmental toys for babies, it’s important to review the age guidelines to make sure the toy you choose is safe and suitable for little ones. Appropriate baby toys should be nontoxic, with no small parts or pieces, or other choking hazards. It’s also important to consider that babies learn by exploring toys with their mouths, and experimenting by grabbing, shaking, and dropping objects.

To find the best developmental toys for babies, we considered each toy for safety, sturdiness, developmental milestones, and types of play. We looked for toys that encourage social and emotional skills, physical development, and cognitive development, as well as toys that encourage sensory play and build fine and gross motor skills.

Based on our reviews, these are the best developmental toys for babies on the market today.

Best Overall: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether

4.8
Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Teether and rattle combined

  • Helps develop fine motor skills

What We Don't Like
  • Not easy to clean

This developmental baby toy tops our list for its versatility and the fact that kids love it. The Manhattan Toy Skwish grows with your child. Used as a rattle and teether for infants as young as newborn, the textured wooden beads and elastic strings are easy for babies to grasp and are perfect for introducing tactile, sensory play. As they grow, the toy helps children develop fine and gross motor skills and recognize colors. 

It’s easy for tiny hands to grasp and shake, and kids are mesmerized as the primary-colored beads move back and forth on the dowels and rattle. When it’s squished, it always returns to its original shape.

The Skwish is small and lightweight enough to carry in a diaper bag. Made of wood with non-toxic water based finishes, the toy can be cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth dipped in a bit of soapy water.

Best Budget: Baby Einstein Take-Along Tunes

4
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

 Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Plays music

  • Has volume control

What We Don't Like
  • Requires batteries

For a great developmental baby toy for less, there’s this musical toy from Baby Einstein. Both a rattle and a little music box, it’s a great way to stimulate baby’s senses, and it’s a good size for little fingers to grasp. It plays seven different melodies, which are taken from pieces by Chopin, Mozart, and other classical masters. It runs on two AA batteries, and there is a handy volume control, too.

Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

Verywell / Michelle Piccolo

Best Educational: Wee Gallery Jungle Art Cards for Baby

Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby

 Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Stimulates baby's vision

  • Made of recycled card stock

What We Don't Like
  • Only 6 cards per pack

A baby's eyes can’t fully see color until around 5 months, but these black-and-white images stand out and can help stimulate baby's vision. A great interactive toy, parents can show baby the images while identifying the animals and talking about them. The cards measure 5x7 inches and are made of sturdy recycled card stock that has been laminated. There are six cards in all, which feature a lion, snake, monkey, parrot, bear, and tiger.

They’re perfect for throwing in the diaper bag for any time you want a little on-the-go entertainment, and they’re a great way to encourage tummy time, too.

Best On-the-Go: Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit 6" Stroller and Travel Activity Toy

Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit 6-Inch Stroller and Travel Activity Toy

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Soft

  • Provides sensory stimulation

What We Don't Like
  • Not machine-washable

It’s a bit crazy looking, but babies and parents alike love the Whoozit. While it comes in various forms, we love this 6-inch version that can be attached to a stroller or car seat. It provides sensory stimulation in abundance, and its bright colors and graphic patterns fascinate babies.

Various shapes in different textures make grasping it fun for baby, and there’s rattling, squeaking, and crinkling when it's touched. A hidden mirror is even located under the red nose, so babies can see themselves in the reflection.

Best Toy Ball: Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball

Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Multiple textures

  • Helps develop grasp

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of thin fabric

This bumpy ball from Sassy is bright, colorful, and made of various textures to capture baby's attention and help them learn to grasp and eventually pass objects back and forth between their hands. It also rattles gently to further entertain and stimulate their senses.

Best for Teething: OBall Shaker Rattle Toy

Oball Shaker Rattle Toy

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Bright colors

  • Offers teething relief

What We Don't Like
  • Rattle is quiet

It’s a teether, it’s a rattle, and it’s a developmental toy that parents say babies go crazy for. There are two easy-to-grasp teething balls—one on each end—with a rattle filled with colorful beads holding them together. Newborns will be fascinated as you move it in front of them. As they get older, they can shake, rattle, and roll it themselves. When those teeth start coming in, they can find some relief by gnawing on it as well.

Best Wooden Toy: HABA Color Fun Play Gym

HABA Color Fun Play Gym

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Adjustable height

  • Easy to assemble

What We Don't Like
  • Reports of gym tipping over with older babies

If you’re trying to keep things simple and don’t want a pile of loud and bright plastic toys, this minimalistic overhead play gym from Haba is a good choice. Babies can use it while lying on a blanket or from an infant seat where they can watch the cute frog hop as he’s pushed along the bar.

There are also beads at the bottom to encourage fine motor-skill development, and more hanging elements can be added to the bar as you choose. It can easily be adjusted up and down to your desired height, too.

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a toy that will encourage your baby to move their body, check out the HABA Color Fun Play Gym (view at Amazon). Babies can use it while lying on a blanket or from an infant seat.

Or, to encourage sensory play or build fine motor skills, consider the Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball (view at Amazon). It’s made of various textures to capture baby's attention and help them learn to grasp and eventually pass objects back and forth between their hands.

What to Look for in Developmental Toys for Babies

Safety

When buying developmental toys for babies, keep safety first in your mind by thinking large. If the toy can fit entirely into your little one’s mouth, it’s best to skip it as it then becomes a choking hazard. Be sure the toy is sturdy (no smaller parts can break off) and made of nontoxic materials that could lead to poisoning.

Milestones

Milestones give parents and caregivers an idea of where their child should be developmentally. While all babies develop at their own pace, many toys can encourage babies to work on important skills. 

  • Social and emotional skills: Babies love faces, and the Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit 6-Inch Stroller and Travel Activity Toy (view at Amazon) lets them look at themselves in a mirror.
  • Physical development: The HABA Color Fun Play Gym (view at Amazon) encourages rolling over in both directions (tummy to back and back to tummy).
  • Cognitive development: Passing things from one hand to the other is an important thinking milestone. Babies can practice it with the Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy (view at Amazon).

Types of Play

Providing toys that promote different types of play keeps babies engaged and helps them work on a variety of skills. While many toys offer multiple play features, these are especially good for specific types of play.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of toys are best for baby development?

    You might think the best toys for baby development are the ones that your baby can play with independently. But the best toys actually engage caregivers along with babies. Play-based interactions that are rich in language, pretending, problem-solving, reciprocity, cooperation, and creativity are the best way to help young children develop.

    Toys that are easy to grasp and shake; play music; feature black-and-white shapes or colors; provide sensory stimulation with various textures, squeaks, and sounds; or encourage your baby to practice their fine motor skills can be fun to use with your baby.

  • What toys will help children develop?

    As long as a toy is safe and age-appropriate, it will likely help a child grow and learn, especially if you participate in playtime with them. There’s no one toy that will ensure your child reaches their next developmental milestone. Instead, provide a small selection of toys that stimulate their senses and prompt curiosity, movement, and imagination.

  • What can I do to stimulate my baby's development?

    Engaging with your baby while using facial expressions, gestures, and vocalizations can help with social development with no need for expensive electronic toys (which can actually detract from social engagement). Whether you’re playing peekaboo or patty cake, reading a book or stacking a few blocks, playing with your baby is the best way to stimulate their development.

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Katrina Cossey has been a digital content producer and news and feature writer for more than six years. She has covered local and national news as well as writing and researching parenting topics. Katrina is a parent herself and has a passion for helping parents and caregivers through writing.

Was this page helpful?
4 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. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to buy safe toys.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC's developmental milestones.

  3. Healey A, Mendelsohn A, Council on Early Childhood. Selecting appropriate toys for young children in the digital era. Pediatrics. 2019;143(1):e20183348. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-3348

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. Toy buying tips for babies & young children: AAP report explained.