Although newborns don’t have fully developed senses and motor skills yet, they are still learning quickly about the new world around them. It’s important to offer different sensory activities for them to explore and discover and start their journey toward developing so many new skills.
There are a variety of toys and activities that your new baby can use to stimulate all their sensory systems. Most of these toys will target their visual, auditory, and tactile (touch) senses.
The important features to look for in a toy is if it is easy to grasp for a baby, brightly colored and stimulating, and multi-sensory (having a lot of sounds, textures, and colors). Your baby’s skills will be emerging very soon and you want to maximize their stimulation.
When organizing your home for your new baby, It helps to have multiple sets of toys throughout your house and belongings. I like to keep a small storage box of toys in my living room, bedroom, car, diaper bag, kitchen, or any area you’ll be entertaining your baby.
This way you’re never without some sort of stimulation/distraction for your little one and don’t have to run around your home to find one.
Best Infant Toys for Development and Stimulation
As a newborn, your baby won’t be able to do too much with toys other than look at them while you hold them overhead. As they approach 2-3 months, they should be able to grasp and be interested in these objects.
Most of these toys are great to start using around 2-3 months and up to 7 or months. Here are some of my favorites that your infant will love and keep them occupied for
At this age your baby will start putting EVERYTHING in his mouth (and that doesn’t end after the newborn stage either!) This teething and grasper toy is one of my son’s favorites.
Once, your baby starts to be able to grasp objects (around 2-3 months), it easily allows them to grab and chew at the same time. My son loves reaching for this toy whenever he sees it and chewing on the wooden beads.
They’re the perfect size to get right in his mouth.
The teething and grasper toy will help develop your baby’s fine motor skills (grasping), hand eye coordination (bringing it to his mouth), and satisfy his oral sensory (teething) needs.
It’s easy for the baby to hold on to the skinny bars and wires that hold the beads together, as they slide back and forth and make a rattling sound. Definitely my favorite must have baby toy.
Other similar options:
These little books could keep my daughter occupied all day long. When they start to grasp around 3 months, they’ll love the sensory (auditory and tactile) feedback it provides and also love turning the pages.
It will start them learning about books, but it’s mostly just fun to hear the crinkle sound.
Other similar options:
The holes in the O-Balls are perfect for little hands to grab and move. This one is a great toy because it has a rattle which allows baby to start learning cause and effect (that he can grab and shake a toy and it will make noise).
This toy also teaches cause and effect, allowing your baby to push a button to light up and play sounds. Watch your baby start dancing to the music and see his excitement when he realizes he just made that happen.
Once your child can begin to press buttons (around 6 months), they will love that they can make it play. Up until then, they will be stimulated by the lights and music it provides.
Use it during tummy time to distract your baby from the hard work they’re putting in!
Other great options:
This is a soft plush toy that combines bright colors, textures, and music to stimulate the senses. It has the crinkle texture which babies love to feel and hear musical sounds, as well as dangling parts to chew on and manipulate.
Toys with clips on them are also super convenient so you can attach them to the car seat, bouncer, or stroller. This makes sure that your baby won’t lose their toy and also great for reaching and grabbing when it’s positioned far away.
It’s really an all-in-one must have baby toy!
Related Post: 13 Ways to Stimulate and Play with your Newborn
6. Activity gym
There are a ton of great benefits to tummy time in the first few months of life and every newborn should start being on their tummy right away. [Read my post about Tummy time benefits and some tricks to get your baby to enjoy it more].
You don’t necessarily need an activity gym to do tummy time, but the toys and bright colors give them some more visual stimulation, as well as objects to reach for and grasp.
A baby toy gym, like this Bonobo Gym by EZPlay Toys, is the perfect essential for your baby’s first year. Playing on the Bonobo gym stimulates your baby’s sensory system and boosts their intellectual development. All the toys are designed for improving baby’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
7. Hanging Toys
A mobile is great for when your baby starts visually tracking objects around 2 months. The movement will grab their attention and they can watch as it spins in a circle.
Attach it to the baby’s crib or bassinet, but you will want to remove it once your baby is sitting up and can reach it. There are sometimes mobiles attached to baby swings and pack n plays which are great additions to look for when you’re shopping for them.
Your baby will start reaching around 4 months. When they are seated in a bouncer or swing, make sure there are toys hanging from above them so they can reach and grab.
It’s great if they are close enough for baby to actually touch while they are reaching.
Floor activity mats, swings, and bouncers with an activity bar are great for this. You can use one of the toys listed above that has a hook and attach it to a toy bar to add extra pieces for baby to grab.
These sensory balls are great for once baby can start using his whole hand to grasp objects. They will love the different textures, sizes, and shapes of these balls.
As they get a little older they can start learning how to throw and put these in containers.
Related Post: Fine Motor Play 3-6 Month Olds
9. Floor Mirror
A mirror allows baby to see himself while laying down. He will be so interested in his reflection and seeing his own face.
Related Post: Fine Motor Play 3-6 Month Olds
Once your baby discovers their hands and what they can do with them, they will constantly be in their mouth. This may be due to teething or just self-exploration and needed to chew or suck on something at all times.
Once they can really grasp and hold on to an object, they will start putting toys in their mouth too.
Use easy to grab teethers that will also help to give them some relief once they start teething, but they don’t even need to be getting teeth to enjoy these toys.
This one in particular is my sons favorite because it is so easy for him to grasp and around 5 months he is now able to get it in his mouth independently.
11. Activity Center
You can start placing your baby in the activity center around 4 months old or once they have adequate neck and trunk control.
The raised floor surface gives your baby a chance to start strengthening his legs and maintaining an upright position to take a look at his surroundings. There are also several toys positioned around the table that encourage fine motor skills, visual stimulation, and cause and effect.
Research now shows that jumpers are not safe and developmentally appropriate for babies. Unlike the activity center, the baby is suspended and bouncing up and down leading to potential toe walking, poor posture, and injury.
That is why this Skip Hop Activity center is a better alternative. Read more about the developmental risks of regular jumpers here.