The Best Reasons to Buy Rattles for Babies

Baby playing with rattle

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Have you ever wondered why you should buy rattles for babies? Here are some reasons to help buy the best rattles for babies. Learn why these first baby toys are so important to a child's development.


Rattles can be made of wood, plastic or cloth. Some are brightly colored, while others might be red, white and black. Rattles can be all different shapes and might look like animals, keys, flowers or musical instruments.

Common Sounds

Many rattles make noises and sounds when they are shaken. These sounds can range from the dull sounds typical of wooden rattles to jingling or bell type sounds from metal rattles. Many rattles also have other textures that provide sounds like crinkling noises. Some rattles might even have batteries and display lights or play lullabies when a button is pushed.

Rattles with lights and music that are activated through the push of a button teach babies about cause and effect. A baby will learn that if they push a button, they are able to activate the toy, and this will help them be more curious in their learning.

How Babies Learn

Rattles are not just a source of entertainment for a baby to play with. They can help to teach babies many new skills. When parents or caregivers hold a rattle up, babies might first look at the rattle with their eyes. If a parent moves the rattle from one side to the other, babies learn to visually track, or coordinate their eyes together to watch a moving toy.

The sounds rattles make can also alert babies to noise. If they hear the sound of a rattle, babies will eventually turn their heads towards the sound. 

At first, babies will hold their rattles tightly with a strong grasp reflex. As their fine motor skills develop, they will learn to hold and shake their rattle in the air. They will play by bringing their rattle to their mouth and safely exploring these baby toys not only with their hands but their tongue and mouth.

Many rattles also have textured surfaces that allow them to double as teethers, as babies chew and gnaw on toys to help soothe their gums when they cut new teeth. Babies also learn to hold the rattle in one hand then transfer the toy into another hand.

Many rattles also have moving parts that can be twisted, turned and spun, which can help further develop a baby's attention span and fine motor skills. While many rattles need to be held in a baby's hand, there are wrist rattles which attach to a baby's wrist or ankle with velcro. Wrist rattles can help babies to learn about their body parts. They begin to realize eventually that they have control over the rattle by moving their arm or kicking their feet.

Personal Preference

Many parents will find that not every baby likes the same toy and the same is true for rattles. Some babies get scared when they hear sudden noises from their rattles and cry. Another baby might find the sounds soothing and calm down when they hear the sounds.

Your child's favorite rattle also helps them get motivated to learn other, more challenging skills. Tummy time is not always fun for babies, but it is important. Babies need to learn to be comfortable lying on their bellies while they lift their head to develop head and neck control. By placing a baby's favorite rattle just out of their reach, they might be more motivated to lift their head, learn to roll to get their rattle, or even squirm along the floor on their belly to start crawling.

Cleaning Tips

Plastic baby rattles are easy to clean and sanitize with a wipe, especially since babies like to drool and place these large toys in their mouth. Fabric wrist rattles and other plush, soft toys with rattles can be washed in a pillowcase in the washing machine.

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. Meltzoff AN, Waismeyer A, Gopnik A. Learning about causes from people: observational causal learning in 24-month-old infantsDev Psychol. 2012;48(5):1215–1228. doi:10.1037/a0027440

  2. Richards MN, Putnick DL, Suwalsky JT, Bornstein MH, Phillips KH, Hurley J. Age determination guidelines: relating consumer product characteristics to the skills, play behaviors, and interests of children. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Milestone moments.

  4. UNICEF for Every Child. Baby milestones: parenting tips.

By Dipika Mirpuri
Dipika Mirpuri has been a toy writer and reviewer since 2004, covering developmental toys like rattles, teethers, and more.