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Best Developmental Toys for Babies of 2023

Updated
Playtime can be a fun learning experience too!

Selecting the best educational toy for your baby can be overwhelming when so many options are available.

We’ve researched the market, comparing hundreds of toys to help you choose the best products to develop your little one’s skills. These toys are age-appropriate, highly rated, durable, and affordable.

Whether you’re looking to refine their motor skills or encourage them to crawl, there’s something for everyone in our list of the best developmental toys for babies.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker (Frustration Free Packaging) , Orange
Best for Older Babies
Sit-to-Stand Walker
  • Interactive learning baby walker
  • Removable play panel
  • Over 70 sing-along songs & music
Product Image of the Baby Einstein Discovering Music Activity Table, Ages 6 months +
Multi-Language Fun
Discovering Music
  • Features 4 musical instruments
  • Switch between 3 languages
  • Easy to clean
Product Image of the The First Years Stack N Count Cups
Simple But Popular
The Stack-Up Cups
  • 8 brightly colored cups
  • BPA-, lead- and phthalate-free
  • Develops hand-eye coordination
Product Image of the GUND Baby Official Animated Flappy The Elephant Stuffed Animal Baby Toy Plush...
Best for Newborns
Animated Elephant
  • Huggable plush designs
  • Adorable singing animated plush
  • Hassle-free cleaning
Product Image of the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy, Ages 3 months +
Best Musical Toy
Baby Einstein Radio
  • Best seller
  • Volume control
  • Switch between 10 total melodies
Product Image of the Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Baby Activity and Teething Toy with Multi-Sensory...
Best Teething Toy
Skip Hop Stuffy
  • Textured surface bandana teething toy
  • Multi-sensory play
  • PVC-free, phthalate-free
Product Image of the Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym, Baby Activity Playmat With-Toy Piano,...
Versatile Gym Toy
Deluxe Kick 'n Play
  • Large keyboard with light-up keys
  • Soft, thick, machine-washable play mat
  • 5 repositionable toys
Product Image of the ToBe ReadyForLife Just Like The Animals Cloth Book, Crinkle Soft Books for...
Baby’s First Book
ToBe ReadyForLife
  • Non-toxic and safe
  • Handmade cloth book
  • Features a carrying handle
Product Image of the VTech Rhyme and Discover Book (Frustration Free Packaging)
Interactive Book for Older Babies
VTech Rhyme Book
  • Introduces age-appropriate vocabulary
  • Easy-to-turn page
  • Bright light-up button
Product Image of the Infantino Squeeze and Stack Block Set - Colorful Textured Soft Blocks, Includes...
Robust And Educational
Squeeze and Stack
  • Soft and squeezable
  • BPA-free
  • Has reusable grab-and-go tote bag


The Best Baby Toys for Boosting Development of 2023

Here are some great educational baby toys to consider.

1. Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

Great Choice for Older Babies

This learning walker is one of the most popular toys for babies aged 9 months and older. This multi-purpose toy teaches your child how to identify shapes, sounds, animals, and numbers.

Your baby can use it from either a seated position or while standing. You can detach the front board easily and place it on the floor. Older babies can push the walker from the back to help them take those first steps and gain confidence.

Beyond developing motor skills, a pretend phone allows imaginative and pretend play to imitate mom and dad.


2. Discovering Music Activity Table

Multi-Language Fun

This activity table is suitable for all babies older than 6 months. You can set it to English, Spanish, or French modes, introducing your little one to new languages. Language learning seems to be easier for kids, so why not take advantage of it?

It also features a piano, drum, French horn, and guitar to develop your child’s musical skills.

This toy teaches your child shapes, colors, and numbers from one to five through play. If your baby isn’t old enough to stand and play, you can detach the board and place it on the floor.


3. The Stack-Up Cups

Simple but Popular

These stack-up cups might appear too simplistic or boring to most adults. However, this classic toy is a widely popular choice. With holes in the bottom of each cup, they could even be used in the bathtub.

The very affordable set comes with eight brightly-colored cups your baby will enjoy piling up. The colorful cups aren’t only teaching colors and stacking skills, but they’re also numbered, familiarizing your child with basic counting.

The cups are sturdy and can hold up to a lot of rough play. And we love that they’re non-toxic — BPA-, phthalate- and lead-free.


4. Animated Elephant Plush Toy

Animated Toy for Newborns

This cute animated elephant toy is a lovely, cuddly option, suitable from birth to toddlerhood. Through sounds, music, and play, it’s designed to help your little one develop their social skills.

A single press on either foot starts a song or peek-a-boo game. The automated flapping ears should entertain your child for some time, and this elephant might quickly become your baby’s first best friend.

Concerned about your newborn’s safety? This toy is made of high-quality material. No hard plastic or glass is used; instead, details are embroidered.


5. Baby Einstein Musical Toy

Best Portable Musical Toy

Is your baby enjoying music and sounds, but you don’t have space for a large musical table? Maybe you need something that can easily be carried around. This musical toy is ideal for babies older than 3 months. It was a favorite for my kids from their early months well into their toddler years.

It features lights and seven different melodies with large buttons so that your baby’s small fingers can effortlessly switch from one to another. It’s designed to be easy to grab and hold in the smallest hands.

Although young babies don’t have much mobility, their brains double in size within the first year (1). Stimulating your child’s brain through simple toys and music significantly impacts development.


6. Skip Hop Baby Activity and Teething Toy

Cleverly-Designed Teething Toy

This “Bandana Buddy” elephant contains various activities designed to awaken your infant’s senses. It’s made of several patterns and textures, and a rattle ring produces different sounds. The kid-friendly mirror was always a big hit with our little ones.

Hang it on a crib at home, or attach it to your stroller or car seat, and this teething toy can follow your child anywhere.

Not a big fan of the elephant design? This toy also comes in a lion or elephant shape, among others. Concerned about quality? This toy doesn’t contain PVC or phthalates.

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7. Deluxe Kick 'n Play Piano Gym

Versatile Gym Toy

Babies under 6 months can lie down over the colorful, fun, machine-washable play mat. On their back, they can access a complete toy arch, with hanging toys that can be repositioned, including a rattle and teether. The mirror should also keep your baby intrigued for a while.

As your child grows, they can sit on the mat, reaching more activities independently. This set can help your baby develop their senses through sounds, songs, and even a piano. When your child starts walking, you can detach the piano and carry it around. This toy set is easy to assemble and disassemble for transportation.


8. ToBe ReadyForLife Cloth Book

Baby’s First Book

This cloth book, featuring multiple textures, stimulates your child through every page. The love for reading usually starts at a young age, and this habit may follow your child for their lifetime.

Bedtime stories don’t only create a special bond between parent and child; they’re also an important opportunity for learning, where your little one expands their horizons. The soft cloth pages are safe for babies of all ages.

Made of polyester, this non-toxic cloth book is also durable and washable. The special hook makes it easily attachable to a stroller or car seat.


9. VTech Rhyme and Discover Book

Interactive Book for Older Babies

Are you looking for an educational book that’s slightly more interactive to keep your little one engaged and excited?

This book is suitable for babies from 6 months old. To introduce your baby to the world of reading, this book includes character buttons and movable pieces.

The book’s pages are easy to turn with small fingers and feature several nursery rhymes, activated by special buttons. It’s aimed at stimulating your little one’s brain. If no activity is detected within eight seconds, the book starts talking, encouraging your child to keep playing.


10. Squeeze and Stack Block Set

Robust and Educational

This 6-12 month baby toy will help your child develop motor skills, such as squeezing and piling up colorful cubes. Identifying colors, animals, shapes, and numbers is another essential learning aspect of this 8-piece block set.

At this age, most babies enjoy throwing anything in their possession. Because they’re made of rubber material, they’re soft and unlikely to hurt your child — or your furniture. They’re also BPA-free and don’t contain any phthalates, lead, or latex.


11. Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat

Best for Early Cognitive Skills

Although young babies aren’t able to communicate effectively yet, they usually have a great time observing what’s happening around them. This is an important part of their cognitive development. This seat also has two attached toys that should keep your child busy.

While sitting comfortably, this observatory seat allows your baby to keep an eye on everyone and everything. The back is high enough to provide good head support for smaller babies who aren’t yet able to sit unaided.

Wide and stable, the seat can withstand the most lively babies weighing up to 25 pounds. You can also remove the seat pad and wash it when needed. The seat folds flat for storage or transport.


12. Munchkin Float Bath Toy

Splish Splash Fun

This toy is suitable for water-loving babies and can make bathtime fun and educational. The set includes four floating bubbles with small toys, rattles, and cute animals inside.

Each bubble is designed to fit in a baby’s hand as they push, throw, and shake them, developing their motor skills. They’ll also improve your baby’s sense of touch, sight, and hearing.

If your baby wants to play with them more often, they can use them outside the bathtub. When bath time is over, the bubbles will dry fast and without the risk of harboring mold.


13. VTech Click & Count Remote

Best in Technology

Containing over 45 different songs, this trendy remote control should keep most babies occupied for some time. Babies love pretending, and this toy, for ages 6 months and up, will help develop their imagination and fine motor skills.

Large and easy-to-use buttons — including ones for weather and news — emit lights when pushed. At every press, a click sound can be heard, letting your child know that the switch is effective.

The buttons also introduce your little one to shapes, colors, and numbers. And to make mom happy, this remote comes with a volume control switch.


14. VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube

Great for Tactile Exploration

Every side of this activity cube contains a fun and interactive tactile game, helping your baby’s journey of discovery.

Your child will be introduced to the animal kingdom through buttons showcasing the animal name, sound, and shape. You’ll also be able to teach your child musical sounds through the instrument button. Sliding and spinning game sections will tune your baby’s fine motor skills.

This toy is free of BPA and safe for babies aged 6 to 36 months. Not only does it come with volume control, but it will also turn off automatically if left alone for a while.


15. iPlay, iLearn Rattles

A Fantastic Selection of Rattles

With a variety of textures, shapes, and tasks, this group of rattles was made to entertain and help your baby develop cognitive and motor skills. Although they may look like simple tools to keep your baby busy, there’s more here than meets the eye.

The set includes 10 rattles, some of which also serve as teethers. Using different grip methods will expand your little one’s finger, hand, and wrist dexterity and aid coordination skills. These rattles are great fun for tiny tots up to 1-year-olds.


16. VTech Pull and Sing Puppy

Sweet Companion Toy

As babies grow, they often create an emotional bond with objects or people. This adorable puppy helps your baby develop fine motor skills and will quickly become their best friend. His flashing nose and the colorful buttons on his tummy will be a great attraction.

As your child ages, they’ll understand what the puppy says and even pull him around on the leash. When not being used, the leash should be removed for safety.

For complete fun and a more realistic look, the puppy’s legs and ears are movable — a great companion indeed. We appreciate that this toy is made of durable material and comes with volume control for quiet play times and an automatic shut-off mode.


17. Laugh & Learning Workbench

Best for Imitating Daddy

Are you renovating your home, or is daddy a gifted DIYer? This interactive Fisher-Price workbench has everything needed to help dad in his building activities. It also improves your baby’s dexterity, hearing, and motor skills as they play.

Your little one will drill, spin, pound, slide, and paint, while learning letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. This set even includes 15 pieces of music to set the rhythm and develop your kid’s musical tastes.

This toy should last your baby well into toddlerhood, thanks to the Fisher-Price durability and quality.

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18. Brilliant Basics Rock-a-Stack

Old-School Option

Never going out of style, this stacking toy is best suited for babies over 6 months old. It’s a classic and popular option that has been around for decades, entertaining and helping babies discover stacking, relative sizing, and more.

This toy teaches your child some basic colors as well — green, yellow, red, blue, and orange — while enhancing motor skills. The top ring also includes some rattly beads on the inside.

For young babies, the rings might become teethers and chewing instruments. Luckily, this toy is safe and made of durable material that should withstand the test of time. The rings are also easy to wipe clean but shouldn’t be immersed in water, as it may find its way inside.


19. Spinning Swirl Ball Ramp

Construction Fun for Older Babies

This toy won’t only entertain your baby — the entire family can play along! Colorful swirls stack up to form a 9-floor tower, with four balls that race down the ramps. For added fun, each ball makes a sound as it rolls down.

This might be one of the first construction toys your child owns and is a great introduction and transition to toddler toys. If nine floors aren’t high enough, you can purchase additional sets to increase the tower’s height.


20. Infant Toys Baby Tablet

Baby’s First Tablet

This baby tablet is designed to stimulate all the senses for children aged 6 months and older.

It comes with 10 large buttons, which can easily be pressed by small baby fingers. When buttons are pressed, the talking tablet teaches your child about animals, letters, and more.

Lights, melodies, and sounds add an extra layer of stimulation to keep your baby engaged throughout the learning process. The rounded edges make this toy safe to use for the youngest ones, and the tablet’s size is suitable for little hands to hold.


21. Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube

Intro to Classical Music

Not all sounds are created equal. Some baby toys — such as this magic cube — can also produce amazing melodies.

It introduces your baby to the magic of classical music and sounds, including eight Mozart compositions. It includes the sounds of piano, violin, horn, and harp, and the “orchestra” button will allow all instruments to be played together.

The brightly-colored buttons are large and easy to press, even for the youngest ones. As a bonus, they also emit lights. It’s widespread knowledge that classical music is great for our brains, so why not start them young?


22. Poppity-Pop Musical Dino

Best for Physical Coordination

Trying to encourage your baby to crawl? From the first ball dropped in the dinosaur’s back, this toy guarantees happy screams of excitement. Then your little one is off to fetch them once they’re popped out again, with tunes and sounds to accompany them.

As your child goes after the colorful balls, this makes a great time for teaching colors, improving gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Not to mention the physical exercise they get.


23. Toe Time Car Seat Toy

Travel Time

Oh, car rides with babies… parents will do anything to keep their kids entertained during travels. This toy might just be what you’re looking for.

Your child can play with, pull, and kick this toy, keeping them busy while tuning their fine motor skills. Learning happens even when you’re on the go.

You can adjust the straps to fit any car headrest, changing the angle and height to ensure that it’s not blocking your view of the baby. Your child should be able to reach each hanging toy easily, without your intervention.

The toys emit gentle sounds and music to kick up the fun. And the central mirror will keep your baby intrigued while helping you keep an eye on your baby through your rearview mirror.

What Skills Can Educational Toys Develop?

From birth, babies begin their learning process in four main areas.

Through cognitive development, infants start exploring their surroundings using their small hands and wide-open eyes. Even at this age, toys can teach your child to gather information and solve problems.

Babies also learn social development and how to begin interacting with people. Infants from 0-3 months mainly learn by observing their environment. Beyond 2 months, some babies can start interacting through smiles, while at 9 months or earlier, babies can wave goodbye (2).

In America, it’s estimated that 40% of babies lack a special bond with their caregivers. This necessary bond can be created through toys and play (3).

Toys encouraging speech and language development can help babies learn their first few words.

Motor skills are also being acquired during these first months. Babies use their smaller muscles — such as those in the fingers — to grab things, turn pages, or hold a baby bottle. As your baby grows, they’ll learn to use bigger muscles to sit, crawl, walk, and even run.

Toys that encourage your child’s brain development can play an essential role in early life.

How to Choose a Developmental Toy for Your Baby

Your decision to choose the best educational toys for babies shouldn’t be based solely on the skills they could develop. Other factors might be worth considering.

Safety

Small pieces are most parents’ worst nightmare. Low-quality toys can potentially be dangerous. If small parts come off — eyes, buttons, small plastic pieces — your baby can easily swallow them, endangering their safety.

Prevent catastrophe by ensuring that the toy only contains pieces bigger than your baby’s mouth. If any piece can fit inside the middle cardboard cylinder of a toilet roll, it’s usually unsafe for babies (4).

To avoid injury, good educational toys should also have a rounded shape or at least no sharp edges.

Weight

For small babies, lightweight toys are more suitable. Remember, what’s considered light for you might not seem light for your baby. Also, if your child drops the toy, they’re less likely to hurt themselves with a lighter toy.

Long Strings

We don’t always realize the danger a simple cord longer than 12 inches can represent. Toys with long strings can wrap around your baby’s neck, potentially choking them. Cut these off if they’re not needed, or at least knot them to eliminate the risk.

Toxic Materials

These days, reading labels and product descriptions is essential. Harmful chemicals are sometimes added, such as phthalates or BPA to make toys more affordable or durable. Heavy metals — mercury, lead, cadmium, or arsenic — can still be found in toys, even popular ones (5).


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Headshot of Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Reviewed by

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN is an oncology nurse navigator and freelance medical writer. Mary has 4 years of experience as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine.