Toys that stimulate the senses of newborns are beneficial to their development, even though they may spend most of their time sleeping, eating, cuddling, or cuddling. According to experts, the best toys for newborns are soft, simple to clean, and provide gentle stimulation with contrasting colors or different textures. Dr. Denise Scott, M.D.JustAnswer is run by, a pediatrician/pediatric endocrinologist. These guidelines will help you choose between toys that are appropriate for infants and those that are more suitable for toddlers and older children.
Dr. Scott, a Oklahoma-based pediatrician and pediatricendocrinologist, has nearly 30 years of experience. She received her training at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and completed fellowship training at National Institutes of Health. She was also co-founder Kids First, the first after-hours pediatric urgent care clinic in Oklahoma City, which is now part of the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. At JustAnswerShe addresses pediatric medical questions through her platform, e-Health, which connects people to live doctors and other verified and trusted experts.
What toys are best for newborn development?
First, bear in mind that newborns will often look at their toys, rather than actively playing with them. They can only focus on objects around them. 8 to 12 inches away. “Newborns (babies from birth to 2 months) do not play with toys,”Scary Mommy is Dr. Scott’s story. “They may observe them but will not reach for or grab things.”Scott adds, “They also look more for contrast, so toys that show faces or are black and white or brightly colored are best.”Scott also explains. “Any item a newborn holds should be of a soft material, such as fabric or rubberized, be safe to put in their mouth, and be easy to clean.”
So if you’re looking to introduce items your newborn can gaze at and cuddle with, Scott recommends “high-contrast, soft activity panels, toys, books, and floor mats,”Addition “toys that squeak or make noise can also be entertaining.”
Here are some things to avoid when shopping for new baby toys
While squeaky toys can be entertaining for newborns, you’ll want to avoid toys that may cause overstimulation. These toys include toys that are too loud or too small, Scott says. “that play loud, fast-paced music, those that have flashing pictures or strobe-type lights, and pop-up toys” — think dancing and talking animals, flashing balls, and loud musical instruments. “Toys made with wood, metal, or hard materials, toys with separate pieces that could come apart, painted objects, and anything too soft or cushiony that a face could get trapped in are ones to avoid,”Scott adds
The end of the day “the best stimulation for a newborn is your face and voice, not toys,”Dr. Scott. However, with a variety of textures, colors, and fun features to choose from, these highly rated newborn toys make a cute and stimulating addition to playtime — and some can even be used past the newborn stage.
Shop the Best Newborn Toys
Are you in a hurry? These are five of the most popular baby toys:
The Expert’s Pick: Fisher-Price Grow-With-Me Tummy Time Llama
This Crinkly Firefly Is Also Highly Recommended by The Expert: Lamaze Clip & Go Freddie the Firefly
Editor-Recommended: Crinkly Toy Baby Paper
A set of plush touch & feel books: hahaland Baby Books (2-Pack)
This Montessori-Inspired Organic Play Gym has Rave Reviews The Play Gym By Lovevery
The Best Toys for Tummy Time & General Play
The Expert’s Pick
“Once your baby is ready for tummy time, elevating their torso with something such as the Fisher-Price Grow-With-Me Tummy Time Llama helps to keep their head up higher (once they have adequate head control),”Dr. Scott. “Your baby can then look down at a colorful toy below them.” The plush and supportive wedge provides a cushioned platform for babies to work on strengthening their muscles, and there are 13 different sensory-stimulating components to engage baby’s sight, hearing, and touch. The cuddly llama is also a great toy for toddlers. It measures approximately 17″ in length and includes a mirror as well as a watermelon rattle and carrot teether.
One reviewer wrote: “Seriously adorable! Our little one already loves it and she’s only 5 weeks old! She hates tummy time without this.”
Care InstructionsMachine washable|Recommended Ages 0+ months
A Set of Plush Baby Books that Crinkle
These are adorable plush baby booksThey are great for newborns as they have high-contrast images and colors, washable and tear resistant fabric pages, and textured animals with 3D tails to feel. Each page has a variety of animals that make squeaky and crinkly sounds to stimulate the baby. The books also have a hanging strap that can be attached to a stroller or car seat. Amazon reviewers have given these books a remarkable 4.8-star overall rating.
One reviewer wrote: “My son absolutely loves these! They are soft, yet make the crinkly noise, and have beautiful colors! Anytime he is playing that is his go to toy. They are so easy To clean and we take them everywhere with us. They are really so cute!”
Care Instructions| Recommended Ages 0 — 18 months
This Montessori-Inspired Organic Play gym has rave reviews
This play gym is loaded with features and can adapt with babies as they transition through various stages — helping to justify the higher price. The organic cotton tummy-time mat stimulates newborn senses. It has five Montessori-inspired development areas that you can conceal or reveal to avoid overstimulation, and/or add fun elements whenever baby plays. Later, the mat can be used as a fort to encourage imaginary play and fun with your friends. It also comes with three removable accessories, a high-contrast ball (made from organic cotton), and a teether. You’ll also get four learning card sets (printed with soy ink) that can be displayed at multiple angles. The gym measures 23.9x50x47 inches when the play mats are open (height x width and length).
What’s more, this versatile play gym has been the winner of several awards, including the Parents’ Choice Gold AwardAfter more than 4,000 Amazon reviewers have weighed in, the overall rating for ‘The Book of Miracles’ is a perfect 4.9 stars.
One reviewer wrote: “In a word, wow!! This activity mat is fantastic […] For our first two kids, we had one of the ubiquitous mats with lights, music and bright colors are over. It was fine; the babies seemed to tolerate it, but I wouldn’t say they enjoyed it especially. This play mat is simple and pleasant to look at. No unnecessary lights and sounds that overstimulate baby. There are five sensory experiences in various forms. The hanging toys are at the perfect height for baby to kick, bat at and grab. We especially love the interchangeable cards which include high-contrast images and mirrors. At almost two months old, our little guy gets very excited to play on that mat, but he also enjoys quiet focus time with the cards. You can tell that a lot of careful thought went into this design. Unlike most activity mats, this one has the potential for longer term use […]”
Care InstructionsMat and fabric pieces can be machine washed; wipe down any other parts with a damp cloth|Recommended Ages 0+ months
This Tummy Time Mirror has a soft frame
This tummy time floor mirrorHelps newborns to study their reflections while they gain muscle strength. The mirror includes a brightly colored ladybug with crinkly wings and a black and white tracker ball. It also has a rotating bee which makes clicking sounds. It measures 11.5 by 11.5 inches and has over 11,000 5-star ratings.
One reviewer wrote: “Really cute mirror made with bright and high-contrast colors which is great for baby’s development. We love how it looks. It’s also soft and weightless, easy to use and you can grab it with you anywhere you want. We use it for tummy time because our little one isn’t a big fan and this mirror helps us to spend this time with a little bit more fun.”
Care InstructionsSurface clean|Recommended Ages0+ months
Editor’s Choice: This Crinkly, Black-And-White Toy
Baby PaperIt is a simple yet charming toy that newborns love. It has high-contrast white stripes and a crinkly design. “I wasn’t sure what to make of Baby Paper at first — it was a gift — but it quickly became a favorite for both of my babies,” says Scary Mommy editor Ileana Morales Valentine. “The crinkly center, the black-and-white stripes, and indestructible quality for teething and clutching — this is one toy that has it all for a newborn. And I love that it’s lightweight enough to fit in any bag.” The 6-inch square toy has a soft exterior that’s machine washable, and though the recommended age isn’t specified, reviewers mention it’s also a hit for kids up to 6 years old.
One reviewer wrote: “My baby loved this from about 3 weeks old and is still loving it at 5 months. He loves the loud crinkle it makes when he grabs it! It’s easily washable and holds up well after many washes. I use a pacifier clip to keep it with him in the car seat. I’ve already gifted it to 3 people and will continue to do so!”
Care InstructionsMachine washable|Recommended AgesNot specified
A 4-pack of Activity Panels
These are made with satin and other soft fabrics. activity panels feature a variety of textures and colors to stimulate a newborn’s developing senses. Each panel has a different side that focuses on sensory activities and textures, while the opposite side displays high-contrast black and white images. Each panel has a sewn handle for easy carrying.
One reviewer wrote: “I am so happy with this “book.” It is so fun to watch my 8 week old baby stare at the black and white pictures and mirror, and track them with her eyes. It’s one of the few things she interacts with so far, so it’s really fun!”
Care InstructionsSurface clean|Recommended Ages0+ months
Soft Rattle with over 7,000 5-Star Reviews
It’s easy to underestimate the power of a simple rattle for newbornsThere are many features to this model, including multiple textures, high contrast patterns and an easy grip. It has a soft, breathable fabric surface, knotty antennae to chew on, and both rattles and crinkles. It can be worn as an ankle bracelet, which will reduce the chance of it falling to the floor. Also, reviewers say that it will be a popular choice as your baby grows.
One reviewer wrote: “I bought this when my daughter was just a few weeks old and it immediately caught her eye. She is now 2.5, almost 3 months, and still loves this rattle. She is always playing with it.”
Care InstructionsSurface clean|Recommended Ages0+ months
A Soft, Colorful Book You Can Use For Years
This soft, interactive bookA Scary Mommy staff member recommended it and it has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon. The sensory-stimulating book features colorful sea creatures with plush legs and crinkly claws and tails, and there’s a safety mirror so babies can study their reflection. The book comes with a built-in toother so babies can chew on it. Plus, it’s easy to attach to a stroller and toss in the washing machine when it needs a cleaning, and it’s suitable for newborns, toddlers, and preschoolers.
One reviewer wrote: “The crinkly sounds made when touching this book fascinated my 2 month old granddaughter. She reached for the fish, the crab and the octopus’s tentacles. So happy I bought this for her.”
Care Instructions | Recommended Ages 0 — 4 years
These adorable rattling socks and bracelets
These adorable rattling socks and braceletsSoft butterflies, ladybugs and other critters will engage your baby. The characters come with both bells and rattles inside and are made of nontoxic and breathable cotton. The wrist rattles attach with a simple hook and loop closure. Both the wrist and socks rattles can be washed.
One reviewer wrote: “My 1 month old loves these! He’s always kicking and waving his arms around and it adds an extra thing for him to play with.”
Care Instructions|Recommended Ages 0 — 3 years
A set of Black-and-White Flash Cards with Cute Animals
These mattes feature high-contrast black and white artwork featuring adorable animals. laminated flash cardsThey are great for tummy time or interactive play with your infant. Each set contains six cards measuring 5-by-7 inches. The cards have rounded edges for safety. They’re also sturdy, printed with eco-friendly ink, and easy to wipe clean as needed. You can choose from eight different sets featuring different animal designs.
One reviewer wrote: “My baby really enjoys these cards. The colors and patterns really get his attention. He is currently 12 weeks and has spent time looking at them since he was 7 weeks without getting bored; however, there is a lot of interaction to keep his attention. We usually use them at tummy time or I hold them about 8-10 inches above his face to while he is laying in his crib or at his activity gym. Depending on his mood, he favors certain pictures more than others, but he always makes faces, smiles, and coos at the pictures. The cards are also very well made and durable. I can tell they will hold up through all the drool and being handled by tiny hands.”
Care Instructions | Recommended Ages 0 — 24 months
A Fun Mobile with Contrasting Colors
This is a classic mobile toy features contrasting colors and large shapes and patterns to stimulate a newborn’s visual development. This mobile is unique because it comes with 10 interchangeable, double-sided cards. These cards feature 20 different graphics, each labeled by age. You can create new patterns as your child grows. Additionally, it has an adjustable cord that allows you to change the distance of the cards as your baby’s vision develops, also keeping the cards safely out of reach.
One reviewer wrote: “This is a streamline and simple mobile that fascinated my newborn for 3 months. Bigger musical mobiles overstimulated her, but this one had perfect shapes and colors to keep her cooing without reaching a sensory limit. The shapes can be changed with her eye development which was fun to watch. Give it a little tap and it will spin, and wow is that fun!”
Care Instructions|Recommended Ages 0 — 5 months
This Pacifier with a Stuffy Attached
This is a cuddly and soothing toy that can also be used as a pacifier. WubbaNubAmazon reviewers have given it a near perfect 4.9 star rating. The cute baby fawn measures 6 inches long and gives newborns something to touch, explore, and cuddle. The eyes are embroidered, not glued-on. Many reviewers love the attachment stuffy that makes it easier to find the pacifier when it is dropped. The WubbaNub can be placed in a mesh laundry bag, and washed on a gentle cycle. Be aware that the toy should not be used during unsupervised sleep. according to the brand.
One reviewer wrote: “Perfect size for 0-6mos. Super soft and much easier to keep track of than just a regular pacifier! My little one loves to hold and snuggle the lovey attached.”
Care InstructionsMachine wash, air dry|Recommended Ages 0 — 6 months
The Best Car Seat & Stroller Toys
A Pediatrician-Recommended Crinkly Firefly
This is Dr. Scott’s recommendation Lamaze Clip & Go toy because it’s “full of different colors, textures, and soft noises”To promote tactile, auditory and visual development. The soft and colorful velour body has a hidden squeaker and various textures, crinkles, and features to engage baby’s senses. The clip at its top makes it easy for baby to attach to a carrier or stroller. You can also choose from five different animals, including Captain Calamari Walla Koala.
One reviewer wrote: “Our newborn baby loved this toy from the moment her eyes could focus on it. She loves the bright colors. Now, she reaches for it and loves the crackly noise in the wings.”
Care Instructions|Recommended Ages 0 — 24 months
A Spiral Stretch Toy That’s Perfect For Car Seats
This spiral plush toyFor stimulation and entertainment while on the move, you can curl it around a car handle or wrap it around your crib at home. It has three hanging toys, including a chick who squeaks when squeezed and a little round mirror that rattles. It’s made of soft cotton and nontoxic, BPA-free materials and can be machine washed in a garment bag when dirty, making it a winner when it comes to no-fuss baby toys.
One reviewer wrote: “This is one of the best toys! My daughter loves this and it helps keep her distracted during car rides. It can also be moved to the crib or any other place with a bar to be wrapped around. Definitely our most used toy that we didn’t even realize we needed.”
Care InstructionsHand wash or machine wash in a garment bag|Recommended Ages 0 — 12 months
This Jiggly Bee with Ribbon Feet
For more information: portable newborn toy that’s perfect for entertaining while out and about, this soft, velour bee with smooth ribbon feet offers plenty to explore. The bee vibrates and jiggles as it moves back up from the clip. It has crinkle paper wings and an internal rattle.
One reviewer wrote: “Our baby LOVES this toy. The high contrast is perfect for keeping her attention! The satin wing has a crinkly feel to it (it’s one sided), and when you pull down on the bee and release, the whole toy shakes. We attach it to the braces over her playmat and she loves it! She enjoys it so much that we purchased a few other toys from the same company (an octopus, a little green monster, a narwhal) and the quality has been consistently great across the board!
Care Instructions: Surface clean | Recommended Ages: 0 — 2 years
Also Nice: A Baby Swing That Plays Songs And Soothing Sounds
While this portable swing might not be a traditional baby toy, it features eight melodies, three nature sounds, and five swing speeds to keep a little one content and entertained. It includes two hanging plush toys for baby to watch and has a five-point harness with comfy shoulder pads to keep them safe. Plus, the seat pad and headrest are removable and machine washable for easy cleaning. It runs on four D batteries (not included) and features battery-saving technology to help them last longer, or you can plug it in using the included USB cord. The swing can be set on a timer for up to 60 minutes and automatically turns off after 90 minutes. Best of all, it measures 22 by 23.5 by 23 inches and folds up for convenient portability and storage. There are also six other styles to choose from, though most of them do not include the option to plug in via USB.
One reviewer wrote: “I purchased this swing for my newborn […] She would sleep in her bouncer that I had to manually rock with my foot for her to bounce front and back. I decided to try a front and back swing and it is a game changer!! […] She sleeps in it after a few mins and a nice bottle!!”
Care InstructionsMachine washable headrest & seat pad|Use it as a recommendation: 0 — 9 months; 6 — 20 pounds
Dr. Denise Scott, JustAnswer pediatrician