I preface this post on baby toys by saying that just last week, W asked if he could have a “brown leaf” for Christmas. Only if you’re good, kid.
Point being: babies and toddlers aren’t total materialistic monsters. In fact, W would be perfectly content with some dirt and a shovel. That said, ‘tis the season for gift giving, and even if the child in your life isn’t too into gadgets, chances are your little one will enjoy unwrapping what Santa brings.
Here is a gift guide that Megan and I compiled. I have a boy. She has two girls. Hopefully between the two of us, we can get you started. As always, this list isn’t definitive or scientific. It’s just what our kids like.
I think babies are pretty gender-neutral, but I’d say my son was more into “doing” toys (like blocks, the square puzzle) and less into imagination toys, like puppets. Above all, keep your child’s interests in mind, and if nothing else, options are always useful! Frankly, you never know what’s going to be a hit until you try it.
Options for Infants (0-6 Months)
If a baby can’t grasp, that baby can’t really play with toys yet. That said, newborns will often take kindly to:
1. Puppet books or books that light up.
2. Soft, fluffy blankets. My son has this brand in blue, and he is a certified Linus. That kid is never without his blanket. My mom has patched it up so many times, and still I found new holes today. This is a well-loved blanket.
3. Fluffy “friends” (stuffed animals).
4. A swing. Mommy—you’ll love this one too. It delights most babies and makes many fall asleep!
What Advanced Babies (3-9 Months) Like
Once your baby hits 3-6 months, look for these crowd pleasers:
1. Rattles of all shapes and sizes. They’re about to start tasting the world.
2. Speaking of tasting the world, if your child doesn’t have a Sophie teething giraffe, you are missing out. W was obsessed. I’ve never met a baby who didn’t love it. I have no idea how they made baby crack. Maybe it’s easy to hold. It apparently is oh-so-right on the gums. You need one.
3. Hand puppets.
4. Play mat=huge winner. At age 3, W still enjoy taking this thing out (putting a blanket over it and making a teepee, but still).
5. Jumpy seat.
6. Pop-up toys that always makes sounds.
7. Wide-base rocking horse.
8. Old-school jack-in-the-box. We recently had a play date with seven babies, aged 6-months to 4 years, and they were universally awe-struck by a simple jack-in-the-box. It was actually hilarious for all of the adults to witness the delight it brought!
For some babies, three months is too early for the jumpy seat. Four might be more appropriate. It just depends on the individual baby’s body awareness and abilities. My son was an early crawler (5 months) and an early teether (first teeth at three months!). Therefore, his interest in teething rattles started very early (or, er, biting mommy started early…that kid is so lucky I kept nursing…). A child’s ability to grasp, crawl, move, walk, etc, will affect when he or she can start using certain toys. If the baby you know isn’t ready yet, don’t sweat it! It’s always good to have some toys waiting in the wings.
For Older Babies
These are great options, starting as early as 6 months (again, it depends on the child’s dexterity for when it gets fun):
1. Light up cell phones.
2. Interactive learning stuffed animals.
3. Learning table. Again, W is three. I’ve thought about putting this thing away for two years now, and he still plays with it. Sometimes he calls it his “radio” and DJs with the music option on it. Money well spent.
4. Shape puzzle cube.
5. Shape hammer bench. This isn’t the exact model we have (couldn’t find it), but the idea is that the baby has to find the shape that corresponds to the same-shaped hole, then line it up, then hammer it in. I remember watching W first figure out the shapes, then get so frustrated lining them up, then be ultra-proud when he did it. It takes visual-spatial skills, hand-eye coordination, matching–it’s awesome.
6. Ring stacker. Great for hand-eye coordination. The plastic ones are cheaper.
7. Big blocks. This is the gateway drug to Legos.
Q: What toys did your child love at this age?