I just promised to reveal the secret of how to find the best baby toys. And I will fulfill that promise. OR DIE TRYING.
So what's it going to be, Mom?
brain-boosting toys? or mental cardboard?
(Okay, not really. But I will try really really hard.)
But first, I have to ask you a question.
Well, two questions.
What are the developmental skills your baby is working on right now?
What are the milestones you're looking for?
If you don't know what milestones you should be seeing, that's probably because you haven't requested a copy of my free Milestone Marker. At least, that's my hypothesis anyway...
Those two questions are actually vital (VITAL I TELL YOU), in determining what the best baby toys are going to be for your baby.
I could show you some pretty awesome tummy-time toys (and I do), but that won't help if your baby is running around.
So the first step is to figure out what stage of development your baby is either currently in, or will be soon.
If I slapped all these milestones in a single article, you'd never get through it all before the end of naptime, so I've split it into ages.
This article is going to focus on those milestones babies ages 3 to 6 months are trying to master. If your baby is not in that age range, click on the age you need below for tips on how to shop smart for his developmental skill.
If you're looking for the best baby toys for newborns (0-3 months), click here.
If you need the best baby toys for crawlers (6-9 months), visit this page.
Or if your baby is starting to waddle around the house (9 months & up) and you need the best baby toys to keep him occupied, go here.
One of my favorite milestones to watch happen is the 'ole "Cause and Effect" milestone.
What a great age.
Interested in everything,
and yet completely immobile...
You know, it's the one where your baby figures out that if she shakes that rattle-thingy, something happens.
And then, as the light begins to dawn, she looks at you all wide-eyed with excitement and starts shaking away like a crazy-baby.
Help her find that happy place by offering toys that give the pay-off she's looking for.
My youngest's favorite shake toy was the Giddy Up Gal set. One rattles, and the other sings. Plus it's the perfect size for chubby fingers to grasp. Not only did she love them at four months, she was carrying them around at 12.
This rattle (and it's sibling, Pirate and Pal) were both given awards by Parents and Shine magazines in 2010. (They make great stocking stuffers, btw.)
For those of you wanting to get a jump on bilingual language mastery, teach cause and effect with this bilingual talking farm set.
This toy holds interest way past the 6-month mark, making it a great purchase for long-term use.
It was also chosen as the Best Toy in 2010 by Dr. Toy. (Yes, chosen as #1 from someone with a doctorate in toys!!!)
He may not be able to hit the coffee table, but he can go to town on this learning workbench. The "nails" light up and play songs when they're hit.
Everything you think of when you hear the phrase "cause and effect" is on this toy somehow. It will hold his attention for months and months to come.
What does "object permanence" mean in normal-speak?
Basically, it's the concept that objects still exist even when we can't see them. Up until this point, your baby has believed that those toys you're hiding under the blanket have simply stopped existing.
Now her brain is beginning to understand that if she rips that blanket away, she will find the toy underneath, just where you placed it.
This is why infants around this age love the whole "put it in and take it out again" game. Here are a few of the most best baby toys for building object permanence.
Not only is this musical elephant fun to look at, when your baby places the ball in at the top, it REAPPEARS AT THE BOTTOM!
Annnnnd it lights up and plays a tune when the ball comes out!
But wait, there's more!
Let me amaze you even further by revealing...that it stacks! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is a stacking toy that will entrance your future 9-month-old long enough for you to whip up pancakes for supper. (The "opposite day" meal happens at our house too.)
This precious birdhouse includes four distinctly different birds, the perfect size for tiny hands to grasp.
Babies can open the lid, or the side door to take out the birds or put them back in. It also has a little handle for easy toting over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house.
For bonus braintime, point out the different colors of the birds, encourage him to try the cheep cheep sounds, and count them out loud.
The closer your infant gets towards the 6th-month mark, the more important the bouncing milestone gets.
Bouncing exercises the lower leg muscles and helps build balance, skills required for crawling and walking.
I've seen too many doorframe jump-ups recalled.
I'll keep her bouncing a little closer to the ground.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the "Johnny Jump-ups" of the world.
First, they only fit certain door frames that my 100-year-old house doesn't have.
Second, they freak me out.
I keep thinking she's going to come crashing to the floor with the door frame on top of her head. *shudder*.
So, because I'm the Ultimate Supreme Dictator of Everything for All Gaither Family Children, I've banned them from use.
(Even at Grandma's. Sorry Mom, time to update your collection of baby toys from 1975.)
You may be a braver mom than I. In which case, hop to it. (Get it? hop?)
But for my fellow safety-fanatics, here are some alternatives to build up those leg muscles.
Overachievers will love the new-and-improved take on an old fashioned bouncer. This jumping frog allows your infant to spin herself around and bounce AT THE SAME TIME. Did I just rock your world or what?
Another reason why I like this particular bouncer is that it's compact. My house ain't no mansion. (Surprising as I'm sure that is...)
I've got about 2 feet of space next to the washing machine in the basement available for baby-toy storage.
Fortunately, this fold-up bouncer fits perfectly. Phew! I thought we were going to have to find a new house.
Wait a minute...
Not only is this one of the coolest-looking jumperoos on the market, over 1100 parents gave it more than four stars.
It's probably too big for a 3-month old, but if you're baby is pushing the 5 month mark and can sit up on her own, this is a great tool to help her gain balance.
It also folds up to a surprisingly compact size for long-term storage.
So have you figured out the answer? Do you know how to find the best baby toys?
Let me boil down my long-windedness into itty bits of info bleary-eyed parents can handle.
The secret is to match good toys with the developmental skills your baby is working hard to master.
First, look for toys that will encourage cause-and-effect learning. Toys that reward your baby for doing something like pushing a button, shaking, rolling, or batting at it.
Second, the best baby toys for your 3-6 month old will be those that help her understand that stuff exists even if she can't see them.
Buckets with toys inside, fake grocery bags with stuffed fruits and veggies, or even a tupperware container with lids. All will help her grasp this important developmental concept.
Thirdly, give him the space to bounce. He'll be thrilled at the sensation, and you'll be thrilled that he can do it without bringing the whole house down. It's a win-win all around.
Your five-month-old has already aced all these skills?
Don't hold that baby back! Move on to see the best baby toys for infants in the 6-9 age range...
...and then start playing!
Infant Educational Toys Designed for Newborns Under 3 Months
How to Make Educational Toys Fun for Crawlers 6-9 Months Old
Top 10 Toys for Increasing Motor Skills in Waddlers ages 9 Months and Up
I just subscribed to the site, and I'm very happy I did. I have worked in the medical field for several years and love to have good resources for when things come up...
~ Crystal S.
What a great site and thanks for having it available!
~ Bernadette W.
I'm very excited to start receiving the newsletter. I've checked out your site a couple times and I loooovve how it's arranged, your language, and tips - it's great!
~ Emily N.
Heather, I can't express how happy I am I discovered your site!
~ Liza T.
Thank you Heather, for your wonderful newsletter. There is always something new!
~ Desiree T.
I'm a 1st time young mom, 23 and single, so I have found very very helpful...I can't seem to stop myself telling everyone I know about you, some thought you were my mom!
~ Vuyiswa N.
Your website is very helpful and I discovered a couple of great online stores. 'Cause I'm not a big reader, it is very nice that I can find the most important information through your
~ Tonya G.
Thanks Heather! Your Milestone eBook is SO detailed and so correct. My son is doing all or most of the things and many are not mentioned in the usual books/sites. Great job and keep it up!
~ Anwesha C.
Thanks so much for creating such an AWESOME website. I really appreciate your sense of humor and real writing style.
~ Andrea Z.
My baby refused all bottles until you showed me the MAM bottle. Thank you so much for the recommendation. I wouldn't have known about them if not for your website.
~ Jennifer at Sweet Lilly Confections