The Best Developmental Toys for 9-Month-Olds and Their Sensory Exploration

DJ Bouncin’ Beats from Fisher-Price keeps playtime fun with head-bopping tunes

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The 22 Best Toys for 9-Month-Olds of 2022

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

As their attention spans grow and they become more mobile, 9-month-old babies are eager to explore the world around them. Their developmental milestones help them thrive, and toys that encourage movement, language skills, and social-emotional intelligence are crucial for their development.

Reviewed & Approved

"At 9 months, many babies have the motor skills—crawling, pulling to stand, cruising along furniture—to explore in new ways. They can move to the objects or toys that they want to play with rather than having to wait for someone to bring toys closer to them. This opens up a whole new way for them to play," says Elizabeth Zack, PhD, outreach and education specialist at the University of Washington.

When buying toys for 9-month-olds, keep in mind that at this age, safety is of the utmost importance since babies love putting things in their mouths. We researched value, toy safety, and age recommendations when reviewing products.

Here are the best toys for 9-month-olds that will entertain, stimulate, and help them learn new skills.

Fisher-Price DJ Bouncin’ Beats Interactive Learning Toy

Fisher-Price DJ Bouncin’ Beats Interactive Learning Toy

Amazon

Pros
  • Helps teach the alphabet, numbers, colors, and opposites

  • Motorized spring action encourages babies to bounce along

  • Three different levels of play allow the toy to grow with baby

Cons
  • Requires four batteries

  • Pricey

This bouncing interactive toy will have your baby bopping along to over 75 educational songs about letters, numbers, colors, and more. The DJ toy also has a light-up face and soft ears to encourage sensory play. With its three levels of play, DJ Bouncin’ Beats will grow with your little one, from sitting and listening to simple songs at 9 months to a full-on dance party with more advanced songs and phrases at 18 months.

Price at time of publication: $45

The First Years Stack Up Cup Toys

The First Years Stack Up Cups

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Teaches numbers

  • Inspires creativity

  • Durable plastic

Cons
  • Has holes; can't hold liquid

  • Numbers on cups are hard to see

These simple-yet-fun nesting cups are always a hit with babies, who can use them to stack, nest, or turn over to hide things underneath. Colorful and bright, they have numbers on their base so your baby can practice their counting and number recognition skills as they get older. Though the small holes prevent the cups from holding water, they are still great for water play or bathtime.

Price at time of publication: $5

What Our Editors Say

"For $5, you can't do better. My daughter loved these simple cups so much that 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  

VTech Stroll and Discover Activity Walker

Vtech Stroll and Discover Activity Walker

 Courtesy of VTech

Pros
  • Has interactive lights and sounds

  • Provides sturdy support

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • No adjustable handle

  • May be too many buttons for some children

This sit-to-stand activity walker is packed with lights, sounds, spinners, and sorters to keep them entertained and curious. Once your baby is more mobile, the attachable activity center snaps onto a sturdy base to prop them up as they start walking. As your tot grows, you can switch the walker between two age-appropriate speeds.

Price at time of publication: $35

Fisher-Price Linkimals Smooth Moves Sloth

Linkimals Sloth

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Has interactive lights and songs

  • Teaches letters, colors, and numbers

  • Develops motor skills

Cons
  • Four batteries required

  • Clicking sound made when unable to move

This super cute interactive sloth gets little ones learning and moving with its songs and dance moves. Babies can press the buttons on the sloth’s feet to hear about letters, colors, and numbers while they watch it sing, clap, bob its head, and light up. With over 85 tunes and sounds, there are endless features for your kiddo to discover.

Price at time of publication: $30

Infantino Press & Stay Sensory Blocks

Infantino Press & Stay Sensory Blocks

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Inspires creativity

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Durable material

Cons
  • Some blocks may have trouble sticking together

  • Blocks are hard

While your little one may not be quite ready for building towers with wooden blocks, this colorful set is totally age-appropriate. The blocks have interlocking nubs, so they stay where they’re put, making stacking and building much easier and more fun. Though they are small enough for your babe to use to practice their fine motor skills, they’re big enough for your little one to play with safely.

Price at time of publication: $17

What Our Experts Say

"Sensory play and play that encourages hand-eye coordination, communication, and motor skills is the most beneficial at this age." —Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, author of "The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself"

Bright Starts Oball Classic Ball

Bright Starts Oball Classic Ball

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to clean

  • Good size for grasping and transferring between hands

Cons
  • Some areas may have sharper edges

  • Not designed to double as teether

The award-winning flexible design of the Oball classic makes it easy for babies of any age to grip, catch, and play. Lightweight and soft, it has 32 large, easy-to-grasp holes and is made of a flexible plastic that’s a cinch to wipe clean.

Price at time of publication: $5

VTech Pull and Sing Puppy

3.3
VTech Pull and Sing Puppy

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination

  • Teaches numbers and colors

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Puppy's leash is short

  • Ears and tail only move manually

Babies have a blast pulling and pushing this dog toy as they watch and listen to it play music and light up. Perfect for 9-month-olds, this highly interactive and visually stimulating toy helps them learn about cause and effect and develop their fine and gross motor skills. From teaching them their numbers and colors to the parts of their body, this toy will be a learning favorite as they grow.

Price at time of publication: $25

Melissa & Doug Take-Along Shape Sorter Baby and Toddler Toy

Melissa and Doug Shape Sorter

 Courtesy of Melissa and Doug

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Easy to grip

  • Teaches sorting and matching skills

Cons
  • Sorting pockets are shallow

  • Loud when moved/shaken

This padded on-the-go activity center is so much more than a basic shape sorter. Babies can lift the crinkly flaps, match the shapes, and drop the textured blocks through the sorter. As they develop their skills, they’ll enjoy identifying the objects and zipping and unzipping the bag. Recommended for babies ages 9 months old and up, the set also has an easy-to-grasp handle to carry it from place to place.

Price at time of publication: $28

Boon Stacking Boats Bathing Toys

Boon Stacking Boats Bathing Toys

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • BPA-free

  • Inspires creativity

  • Dries quickly

Cons
  • Difficult to stack

  • Water drains out quickly

These brightly-colored stackable boats make bathtime more fun for babies. They can float them in the tub or use them to scoop up water and let it drain out as they watch the holes’ cool rain effect. Suitable for 9-month-olds and up, they’re free of BPA, phthalates, and PVC—plus, since they’re single-piece construction, they won’t get moldy like other bath toys.

Price at time of publication: $10

What Our Experts Say

"They love water play at this age, and this can be encouraged. However, parents have to make sure that there is no standing water in the bathtub and close the toilet lid, so their little explorer does not fall in." —Dyan Hes, MD, pediatrician and medical director of Gramercy Pediatrics in New York City

Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring STEM Learning Toy

Sassy Stacks of Circles Stacking Ring STEM Learn

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination

  • Easy to stack

  • Teaches numbers

Cons
  • Not safe for sterilizer machines

  • Not water-friendly (will fill with liquid)

Designed to help develop fine motor, grasping, and hand-eye coordination skills, this stacking toy features chunky rings of all different textures and weights. The straight post accepts different size rings for frustration-free stacking, while the see-through ring with colorful beads helps little ones connect sight to sound. Plus, when they’re a bit older, the numbers on the side of each ring will help babies learn counting order.

Price at time of publication: $13

VTech Turn and Learn Driver

VTech turn and learn

 Courtesy of VTech

Pros
  • Teaches animals, vehicles, and colors

  • Has interactive lights and sounds

  • Batteries included

Cons
  • Can be noisy

  • Two batteries required

As your baby steers the wheel, this toy plays one of over 60 songs and sounds as the little dog moves back and forth. The fun design also includes a traffic light, a turn signal lever that triggers sounds and music, a horn, and a gear shifter. Little drivers can also press the five colorful buttons to learn about different animals and vehicles.

Price at time of publication: $20

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups

Kohl's

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Helps little ones learn colors, numbers, and size relativity

  • Easy to wipe clean

Cons
  • May be tricky to separate pieces when snapped into a ball

Babies can stack these versatile cups into a tower, nest them inside of each other, or snap two together to make a ball that they can roll. The cups are numbered one through ten to help little ones learn their numbers, while the bright hues can teach them about colors. As a bonus, the hard plastic material is easy to wipe clean. 

Price at time of publication: $11

Hape Double Bubble Wooden Bead Maze

Hape Double Bubble Wooden Bead Maze

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination

  • Durable

  • Made from nontoxic materials

Cons
  • Could pose choking risk if broken or used incorrectly

  • Suctions cups can be easily removed

This two-track bead maze promotes fine motor skills, develops hand-eye coordination, and entertains little ones as they work the wooden beads from one end to the other. Durable and portable, it has four suction cups to keep the wooden base secure on smooth surfaces, like high chair trays, for extra stability.

Price at time of publication: $22

Bright Starts Press & Glow Spinner

Bright Starts Press & Glow Spinner

Amazon

Pros
  • Toy glows and spins with each push of the star

  • Helps develop fine motor skills

  • Volume isn’t too loud

Cons
  • Flashing lights might not be suitable for some babies

This spinner will mesmerize your little one with its bright lights and fun tunes. To operate, your baby needs to push on the star, helping them hone their fine motor skills and explore cause and effect. Caregivers will appreciate that the volume isn’t too loud and that the various songs are fairly short. 

Price at time of publication: $15

VTech Drop and Go Dump Truck

VTech, Drop and Go Dump Truck

Walmart

Pros
  • Teaches numbers, colors, and shapes

  • Batteries included

  • Develops fine motor skills

Cons
  • Could pose choking risk if broken or used incorrectly

  • Batteries required

More than just a pull-along toy, this colorful truck helps little ones learn about numbers, colors, and tools. As they load the plastic rocks into the truck, it counts each one. They can also tilt the hinged bucket to dump out the rocks or push the buttons to play songs that teach colors, words, and tools.

Price at time of publication: $21

Hape Penguin Musical Wobbler

Hape Penguin Musical Wobbler

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Durable

  • Helps soothe babies

  • BPA-free with child-safe paint

Cons
  • Heavy

  • May not work best on carpet

This adorable wooden musical toy plays soothing tinkling sounds as it waddles, spins, and rolls. As the sweet penguin wobbles, the interior bell creates a soft sound that is perfect for little sensitive ears. Babies can bat at it, and it always pops back up.

Price at time of publication: $17

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Has ride-on and walking modes

  • Teaches sorting

Cons
  • May not roll on high-pile carpet

This adorable puppy grows with your baby, as it easily converts from a walker to a ride-on toy. Babies can sit and play with it by sorting the colorful blocks and “feeding” them to Puppy. When they’re ready to walk, the seat raises and becomes a handle. Whether they’re pushing, walking, riding, or scooting along, babies can watch the puppy’s head and ears wiggle and listen to fun songs and encouraging phrases as it moves.

Price at time of publication: $60

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table

Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Teaches letters, numbers, shapes, and colors

  • Includes Spanish and English modes

Cons
  • Slides and tips over easily

  • Tabletop is heavy without legs

Little ones can press, slide, spin, and pull the colorful instruments on this activity table to trigger over 70 songs and sounds as they work on developing motor skills. The learning mode, which can be set to English or Spanish, introduces them to basic concepts like letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. You can also remove the legs for floor play and then replace them when your baby is ready to stand. 

Price at time of publication: $46

VTech Musical Rhymes Book

VTech Musical Rhymes Book

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Teaches music and colors

  • Builds vocabulary

  • Develops fine motor skills

Cons
  • No way to play both pages

  • Tiny fingers may get pinched between pages

Babies will hear songs, sounds, and phrases as they slide, twist, and push buttons and levers in this interactive book, which is full of classic rhymes such as “Little Boy Blue.” Turning this book’s pages helps little ones build motor skills, while the five piano tabs introduce them to instruments and colors and help build children's vocabulary.

Price at time of publication: $20

What Our Experts Say

"Books are some of the best toys for 9-month-olds as they start to develop their language skills." —Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, author of "The Working Mom Blueprint: Winning at Parenting Without Losing Yourself"

Green Toys Tugboat

Green Toys Tugboat

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • BPA-free

  • Great for older kids

  • Made from 100 percent recycled plastic milk containers

Cons
  • Won’t float when overfilled

  • Difficult to clean small crevices

Babies can float this colorful boat across the bathtub or use the wide spout to scoop and pour water. When your little one is old enough to play safely in the kiddie pool, this boat is a fun pool toy, too. Like all Green Toys, it’s made in the USA from 100 percent recycled plastic milk containers and contains no BPA, PVC, phthalates, or external coatings.

Price at time of publication: $15

VTech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone

VTech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Inspires creativity

  • Has interactive sounds

Cons
  • Batteries required

  • Sound is muffled when singing into microphone

This interactive microphone amplifies your little one's voice, and the puppy button encourages them to sing along with playful melodies. When a baby shakes the rattle or turns the ring, they hear different animal sounds and fun music. Great for promoting imaginative play, this fun-filled toy enhances listening and motor skills and can also be used well into your kiddo’s toddler years.

Price at time of publication: $15

Baby Einstein Musical Mix ‘N Roll 4-in-1 Push Walker

Baby Einstein Musical Mix ‘N Roll 4-in-1 Push Walker

Amazon

Pros
  • More than 100 melodies/phrases

  • Has adjustable volume control

  • Four conversions

Cons
  • May not lock correctly each time

  • Assembly required

For a toy that'll give you the most bang for your buck, try this 4-in-1 push walker from Baby Einstein. It starts out as a musical floor toy and then transforms into a walker, DJ mixing table, and finally, a toddler play table. Aside from the four different modes of play, babies will love the more than 100 melodies and phrases, which come in four languages: English, Spanish, French, and German.

Price at time of publication: $50

What to Look for in Toys for 9-Month-Olds

Safety

At 9 months old, safety is of the utmost importance since this is the age babies love putting things in their mouths. Magnetic objects and toys with button batteries should be avoided for babies due to their potential dangers if ingested. Check how much a baby will need to be supervised or helped while playing with a particular toy before buying it. And, if they can fit it into their mouth entirely, avoid it altogether. 

"It can be challenging, but we need to take a step back at times and allow children to follow their curiosity, even if it might feel a bit risky to us. Stay close by so you can offer verbal or physical support," recommends says Elizabeth Zack, PhD, outreach and education specialist at the University of Washington.

She continues, "Rather than saying 'be careful,' which doesn’t provide helpful information, say things like, 'Take your time. Check your feet before climbing higher.' Providing this type of scaffolding—a technique in which adults offer the right level of support to take a child to the next level—can support safe play as children follow their curiosity and build confidence and skills."

Milestones 

Milestones are a great guideline to follow to ensure your child is developing appropriately for their age. Certain toys can help babies to meet these milestones and skills. At 9 months old, your baby could reach these major milestones through play:

  • Moving objects from one hand to another with the Infantino Press and Stay Sensory Blocks (view on Amazon).
  • Moving their bodies and building muscles with the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy (view on Amazon).
  • Crawling and strengthening their gross and fine motor skills with the Oball Classic Ball (view on Amazon).

Physicality 

Buying toys that encourage movement is great for building a baby’s muscles and overall strength. Toys like large balls, soft things to crawl to, or vehicles with wheels to push and pull are great for getting a 9-month-old’s body moving.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What types of toys do 9-month-old babies like?

    "Babies love simple objects to play with, like a box, a ball, or a drum to bang on," says Dr. Hes. Thick board books are also great, as their little fingers can easily turn the pages. Putting things like blocks or cups into a bowl or box and dumping them out is another fun activity. "They also like to play peek-a-boo at this age, so they like little pop-up toys," adds Dr. Hes.

  • Do toys help with a 9-month-old's development?

    Babies are extremely curious at this age, says Dr. Hes. "Remember, a 9-month-old has the attention span of a flea, so all of these activities may not last longer than two minutes," adds Dr. Hes. Still, toys that help build fine and gross motor skills, language, and cause and effect can be very beneficial. Toys that encourage babies to pass things between their two hands, help them practice crawling, standing, or cruising, and support early language skills are all wonderful options.

  • How many toys does my 9-month-old need to have?

    Toys are fun to buy and watch your child play with. However, try not to go overboard. As Dr. Hes points out, 9-month-olds want to explore and probably want to play with whatever their parent is holding, whether it be their cell phone or the TV remote. "I always find it so funny that if you give a 9-month-old an old remote control, they have no interest in it. These babies are smart—they want the remote control that their parent uses. What is the fun if it is not forbidden?" says Dr. Hes. Toys like the Bright Starts Press & Glow Spinner are wonderful for learning cause and effect, and they’re even more beneficial when paired with a good old-fashioned game of peek-a-boo behind a blanket.

  • How much do toys for my 9-month-old cost?

    Toys for 9-month-olds can range in cost, but generally, you can expect to pay between $10 and $60. Simpler toys like the Bright Starts Oball Classic Ball tend to have a lower price point, while toys with more functions and accessories, such as the Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Stride-to-Ride Puppy, are often a bit more expensive.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Christine Luff is a freelance writer who covers fitness, health, parenting, and other topics. She’s also mom to a 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, who have always enjoyed a wide range of active and educational toys.

Phoebe Sklansky is Verywell Family’s associate commerce editor. She is a big fan of sensory play and particularly loves toys that can be adapted for multiple ages and stages.

More Toys and Gifts for Kids

When it comes to toys and gifts for kids, our team has you covered. The Verywell Family team of editors (who are parents or have nieces and nephews of their own) have tested, gifted, and personally recommend every item we feature. Find more of our top gift and toy picks for every age and stage here:

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

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Important milestones: your baby by nine months.

  3. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Good toys for young children by age and stage.