The 7 Best Developmental Toys for Babies of 2021

Help your little one learn through play

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy at Amazon

"It’s a toy that is both a teether and a rattle and will help them develop fine motor skills, color recognition, and more."

Best Budget: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy at Walmart

"Both a rattle and little music box, it’s a great way to stimulate baby’s senses, and it’s a good size for little fingers to grasp."

Best Educational: Wee Gallery Art Cards for Baby at Amazon

"A great interactive toy, parents can show baby the images while identifying the animals and talking about them."

Best On-the-Go: Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit 6-Inch Stroller and Travel Activity Toy at Amazon

"It provides sensory stimulation in abundance, and its bright colors and graphic patterns fascinate babies."

Best Toy Ball: Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball at Amazon

"This bumpy ball helps babies learn to grasp and eventually pass objects back and forth between their hands."

Best for Teething: Bright Starts Oball Shaker at Amazon

"It’s a teether, it’s a rattle, and it’s a developmental toy that parents say babies go crazy for, especially for teething."

Best Wooden Toy: HABA Color Fun Play Gym at Amazon

"Babies can use it while lying on a blanket or from an infant seat where they can watch the frog hop as he’s pushed along the bar."

The first year of a baby’s life is full of milestones and major developments. Whether it’s during tummy time or simple play, there are plenty of toys on the market aimed at developing babies’ skills. 

Before picking out some toys for your little one, however, you should consider safety and if the toy contains any small pieces. And, keep in mind that if you want your baby to hit their milestones, you can buy toys to help build those important skills, and get their body moving in the meantime, too. 

Here are some of the best developmental toys for babies to get your little one started.

Best Overall: Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy

What We Like
  • Teether and Rattle Combined

  • Helps Develop Fine Motor Skills

What We Don't Like
  • Not Easy to Clean

This toy tops our list for its versatility and the fact that kids love it. It’s a toy that is both a teether and a rattle and will help them develop fine motor skills, color recognition, and more. It’s a good size and super lightweight for throwing in the diaper bag, and it’s made of wood rather than plastic.

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

Best Budget: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

 Courtesy of Walmart

4
What We Like
  • Plays Music

  • 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.

Best Educational: Wee Gallery 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-Inch Stroller and Travel Activity Toy

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, car seat, or crib. 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

What We Like
  • Made of Various 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: Bright Starts Oball Shaker

What We Like
  • Made with Bright Colors

  • 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

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 beds 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 where they can watch the cute frog hop as he’s pushed along the bar.

Or, to encourage sensory play or 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 When Buying 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 and made of nontoxic materials because 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, there are toys you can buy to encourage important skills. 

  • Manhattan Toy Baby Whoozit 6-Inch Stroller and Travel Activity Toy (view at Amazon) is great for social and emotional skills of looking at themselves in a mirror. 
  • For physical development, the HABA Color Fun Play Gym (view at Amazon) encourages rolling over in both directions.
  • Babies passing things from one hand to the other is great for cognitive development, which can be done with the Manhattan Toy Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy (view at Amazon).

Types of Play

Once you determine the milestones your child should be meeting, it will help you decide where you can help them advance or continue to develop their skills. Through different types of play with toys, parents and caregivers can encourage their little ones to enhance skills, like sensory play or fine motor skills. If you’re needing an idea of where to start, these toys will encourage milestone 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 topics ranging from local and national news as well as writing and researching for parenting content. Katrina is a parent herself and has a passion for helping parents and caregivers through writing.

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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 is a developmental milestone? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.