Best Toys for 9 to 12-Month-Old Babies

Interactive and Skill-building Toys for Growing Babies

Soon-to-be one-year-olds are busy with their newfound mobility—crawling, cruising or walking—and their growing independence. Changes in physical development at nine to 12 months definitely affects how babies move about and sees the world. With that comes new kinds of developmentally appropriate toys.

These types of toys spark babies' imaginations and help them build and practice new skills.


Push Toys to Encourage Walking

Baby with push toy

Flickr / Kat Stan

You can't go wrong with a classic push toy for little cruisers and walkers. When choosing one, look for sturdiness, a comfortable height and a grasping bar that fits nicely into little hands and helps your baby maintain balance.

Some push toys, such as doll strollers and lawnmowers, inspire pretend play too. Others add a lesson in cause and effect (say, if that lawnmower produces soap bubbles as your baby pushes it, or a puppy opens and closes its mouth as it rolls).


Toys to Pretend With

toy shopping cart

Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain / Stone_WLP

At this stage, toys that encourage imitative play are essential for the development of your baby's imagination. Toys that stimulate pretend play can include play food and kitchens, tools and workbenches, dolls and cuddly animals. As your baby gets a little older, consider adding dress-up options, and more accessories for the toys he plays with most: A crib for his dolls, a garage for his cars, an apron or tool belt, and so on.


Toys That Develop Fine Motor Skills

Baby with Down Syndrome playing with blocks

Blend Images / JGI / Tom Grill / Getty Images

Building blocks are magical in their simplicity and flexibility. They delight, educate and occupy, and they also encourage fine motor skills and problem-solving skills in the youngest of children.

There are all sorts of building blocks to share with your baby: Traditional wooden blocks, blocks that snap together, plastic blocks and blocks that make music. Look for blocks that are durable, easy to clean, non-toxic (they will be going in your baby's mouth!) and right-sized for little hands. Small toy cars and trains also require grasping skills that strengthen your baby's hands; just make sure they are designed for young babies and toddlers and are not choking hazards.


Toys That Make Babies Feel Grown Up

playing with toy phone

Flickr / Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier

You've likely seen your baby play with a non-functioning TV remote for what felt like hours.

At nine to 12 months old, your baby now seems to imitate your everyday habits. Capitalize on this growing interest with toys that give your baby the opportunity to be a little grown-up.

He might like a toy phone (there are some non-electronic versions), a baby-sized vacuum cleaner, or a little backpack to carry his things.


Toys That Capture Babies' Attention

toy farm

Flickr / lmnop88a

The best toys for babies encourage curiosity and open-ended play. These strengthen language, problem-solving, fine-motor and social skills. A play set such as a toy farm prompts babies to mimic animal noises, scoot little figures along the floor, recognize animals they have seen in picture books, and so on.


Toys for Outdoor Play

Baby with push toy

Flickr / eyeliam

Once babies are 9 months to 12 months old, they're able to start enjoying the outdoors. It's the perfect time to take push toys outside and add backyard playground equipment (such as small slides or playhouses), and convertible trikes or balance bikes.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.