This is Part 1 of our Best Baby 0 To 12 Months Educational Toys 2016 overview. Stay tuned for Part 2!
Picking the Right Educational Toys
With such a wide variety of toys on the market, how can you choose the best one to assist in the proper cognitive progression of your child? This is an important question, because for babies, playing is really about more than just entertainment and keeping them busy, it’s their principal means of learning and mental development, and it can help them hone their fine and gross motor skills. In the first four years of life, children actually develop a full 50% of their adult intelligence, which shows just how rapidly their brains grow and absorb information. During this time span, your tiny newborn will become an active youngster—running, jumping and climbing all over, talking, socializing, using their imagination and reasoning. You will want to find the right balance between the flashy ones and the simple ones which will make children utilize their imagination more. Giving your baby stimulating, age-appropriate toys will help your child develop faster and more fully- physically intellectually, and creatively.
- 1. Lamaze Clip & Go Jacques the Peacock
- 2. Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
- 3. Sassy Ring O’ Links Rattle Developmental Toy
- 4. Stackable Teether Tower Toy – 5 Piece Interchangeable Set
- 5. Fisher-Price: Newborn-to-Toddler Play Gym
- 6. Skip Hop Buddies Activity Toy
- 7. Manhattan Toy: A Dinoztory Book
- 8. Sassy Development Bumpy Ball
- 9. VTech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone
- 10. OBall Rattle and Roll Car Assorted Colors
- 11. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
- 12. Playgro Soft Blocks for Baby
- 13. Munchkin Baby Bath Toy, Turtles
- 14. Hohner 4 Piece Baby Band
- 15. VTech Rhyme and Discover Book
There is an abundance of excellent toys on the market, and this list highlights just some of the most popular products that our available today. Some are ageless wonders that continue to delight little ones, and some are new. This 0-12 month article will be the first in a series focusing on different age groups. It will be followed by 12-24 month little toddlers and finally 24-36 month older toddlers. Later down the line I'll be writing about preschoolers+.
Many of the toys listed are interchangeable between the age groups, and can “grow” along with your baby- meaning different aspects of the toy can be enjoyed at different stages of the baby's development. The way I listed them is based on the learning parameters for each age range, how they are recommended by the companies that make the toys and how popular they were with my own children, and nieces and nephews.
0-12 Months: Building a Strong Foundation for Growth
These learning toys and games are designed to stimulate the curiosity of infants and babies. They are specifically made for children that are one month to one year old. They build a solid foundation and promote mental development to give your little explorer a head-start in life.
At this age, a child's brain is going through incredible transformations. Babies are developing their reasoning, perception, and memory. Just as their little bodies need nutritious food to grow; their brains need plenty of mental stimulation to fully develop.
During the first six months you want to do your best to stimulate their sensory and motor development. Even at such a young age their brains soak up sensory information and their brain develops quickly. Their vision is not so great at first, so bold or contrasting colors work best and within about two months they will start reaching out for things.
Between six and 12 months babies begin to discover cause and effect, so they will touch, push, shake and bang every object that they can reach. As they begin to move around more, their curiosity about the world around them grows. So without further ado, here are the first 15 of our Top 25 Brain-Boosting and Skill-Building 0-12 Month Baby Learning Toys!
1. Lamaze Clip & Go Jacques the Peacock
This is just one adorable example of brightly colored plush toys that are both cuddly and entertaining. The brightly colored feathers, each with a different design, stimulate your baby’s vision. Babies will want to touch, grip and grab the multi textured soft-touch body and crinkle feathers, and when shaken, it makes a rattle sound. The combination of stimulating colors, multiple textures and squeaking, rattling and crinkling sounds make this (and the many others available) a truly interactive toy even for the youngest babies. Different animals feature built-in teethers, peek-a-boo mirrors and more! An attached clip makes them easy to hang on a car seat, activity gym, stroller, diaper bag, etc.
2. Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
This cute Teether isn’t exactly a new toy, it has been around since 1961, but it is on my list of the best baby toys of 2016 because it has consistently stayed on top of favorite toy lists through the decades. It has numerous parts to chew and play safely, stimulating most of the senses: It has a soft feel that reminds them of a mother’s soft skin, and is easy to grip, especially along the long legs and neck. The soft rubber soothes the baby's gums when it is chewed on. The hand-painted (with safe food paint) brown spots are intended to be contrasting and bold to facilitate the baby’s vision development. The natural rubber scent will become familiar and comforting to your baby. The squeaking sound the toy makes keeps the baby amused and stimulates hearing. All of my children enjoyed this among their first toys.
3. Sassy Ring O' Links Rattle Developmental Toy
This excellent and inexpensive teether and rattle for little fingers is a toy that provides visual and tactile stimulation! This colorful rattle enhances brain activity by inspiring touch with a textural variety that promotes exploration. The bright, bold spectrum of colors helps provide visual stimulation as your baby grows, and the functional links provide a way to hang toys at various appropriate heights for your baby. Besides being a great toy for your baby to explore via touch and mouth, the links are also great to use for linking to car seats, strollers, diaper bags, etc. This small toy is perfect for on-the-go and it doesn't take up a lot of space in my diaper bag. I can simply take this toy wherever we go and it'll keep my 3-month-old son entertained.
4. Stackable Teether Tower Toy – 5 Piece Interchangeable Set
I love stacking toys. There are many excellent ones to choose from and this is really just an example of one that my children love. You can choose more sophisticated and even electronic stacking toys, though I prefer the relative simplicity of this one. It has five different shapes and vibrant colors that offer visual stimulation. The smooth feel and multiple textures of this particular silicone product, provides relief to sore gums of teething babies (it can even be put into the freezer). Each piece is a unique shape with an interchangeable design, and your little one can peg, pull, and stack it together in various ways, so their imagination is also challenged. The set is perfect for holding, clutching, and grabbing, which is essential to helping along your child's development of motor skills. It's made of safe materials and can be cleaned easily. Even at different ages, my kids love stacking and re-stacking the tower in different orders. They fit easily together, without snaps or “clicks” for fingers to get caught it. This versatile and durable set is small enough to be portable, but large enough to not get lost.
5. Fisher-Price: Newborn-to-Toddler Play Gym
This activity center features lights, sounds and music, over 12 activities and toys to discover, adorable animal toys, to stimulate your baby's senses and help your little one develop fine motor skills, balance and coordination. The convertible play gym is designed to “grow” with your child in three stages from newborn to toddler, meaning babies start out in Stage 1- where they lay and play on the machine-washable mat with the toy bar overhead. When your baby can sit up, move to Stage 2- Where the baby will sit and play on the mat. And when baby’s standing and moving on his own, you can remove the mat for Stage 3: Where your baby can stand and play, dropping balls along the adorable zebra and giraffe slide. It works those baby muscles and boosts hand-eye coordination. This activity gym even helps inspire babies thinking and problem-solving skills as the baby learns how to activate the music and lights as well as discovering where to drop the balls to watch them roll all the way down! Though this gym is a bit smaller than I might like for a multi-stage activity center, it also means that it takes up less space in your home and is more easily transportable.
6. Skip Hop Buddies Activity Toy
With various different ones to choose from, Skip Hop Buddies all have a bold colorful design that appeals to the limited visual ability of babies. It rattles, has a detachable teether bandana that can attach to an adult's wrist for easy access, and it has multiple different types of soft fabrics and textures to help stimulate your baby's sense of hearing, touch and taste. The toy attaches to a stroller, car seat, or infant carrier so that they’re able to play with it on the go. I bought the puppy version, and my kids always loved cuddling with it.
7. Manhattan Toy: A Dinoztory Book
You can give your baby a hands-on experience with this adorable soft book about dinosaurs. The four pages include colorful and tactile fabrics to stimulate your baby's senses. The lightweight (and easily grasped by little hands) book is held together with a velcro-like clasp, and it's easy to clean with lukewarm water and soap. This is a simple, quiet item that you can carry around in your diaper bag and pull out when the baby fusses.
8. Sassy Development Bumpy Ball
This plush bumpy ball has bright colors and bold patterns to help develop your baby's vision. The soft easy-to-grasp shape of a ball and bumps helps your baby hold or toss the ball, and babies enjoy chewing on the soft material as well. Two of the bumps are clear plastic bubbles that contain multiple colored beads that make a rattling noise, which stimulate your baby's hearing. This toy promotes the development of fine motor skills and involves motor speed, visual tracking, reaching, object manipulation and grasping. There are many ball shaped toys on the market, but the bumps are what make this stick out. I found that my kids had an easier time maintaining their grip because of the bumps, and visually it just made it more interesting to them (along with the various bright colors).
9. VTech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone
9. VTech Baby Babble and Rattle Microphone
This is truly a product for all ages. Even my 4-7 year-old nieces and nephews sing along with this toy (I've even used it a few times, don’t laugh)! Your infant will enjoy the bright colors and rattle function at first and as they grow a little older they will begin to enjoy the other functions. Just like a real microphone, this interactive microphone (which requires 3 AAA batteries) amplifies your child's voice, and the puppy button encourages them to sing along with the songs. Turn the ring to introduce twelve different animals and their sounds or hear playful melodies. Press the instrument buttons to play twelve melodies in either classical or rock ‘n roll style and learn about instruments. Even without batteries this is fun as a rattle and its bright colors and textures make it exciting visually and to the touch. This is a great toy to grab and place in your diaper bag, as it is small and can played with on the go.
10. OBall Rattle and Roll Car Assorted Colors
Designed to be both a teether and rattle for infants, and a fun activity toy for toddlers, this soft toy car will be a favorite as baby grows. The OBall Rattle and Roll Car is big and bold, making it a perfect toy for babies. It is very easy for babies to grip and roll, and each wheel contains noise beads that will captivate your child. There are two different cars to choose from (different colors and slightly different styles), but both use baby power (IE they are not electronic) to race across the floor during playtime when your child is crawling or walking. Soft, pliable materials feature ample finger holes to make it irresistible for little hands to grasp, hold, push and shake. The faster your baby pushes the car, the faster the little colorful beads rattle and roll inside the wheels.
11. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy
Minus the microphone ability, this toy is popular for much of the same reasons as the VTech product above. Baby Einstein products have earned the admiration of parents around the world. Babies really love soothing music as it stimulates their hearing. This Baby Einstein Musical Toy (which can also act as a rattle and even a teether-though it isn't soft) plays seven baby friendly classical melodies that stimulates their hearing. Its bright colors and flashing lights grab the baby's attention, while the big pieces are easy for little babies to grasp, and the large buttons are easy for them to press. You can adjust the volume to make sure it isn't too laoud for you or the baby. It is small and portable, so it is perfect for on the go play. Learning toys, like this one, really promote auditory development, visual perception and music appreciation. VTech also makes a great Touch and Swipe Baby Phone!
12. Playgro Soft Blocks for Baby
These can be used in or out of the bath. The soft padded blocks, with their bright, bold colors and cute animal designs encourage visual perception and make bath or play time so much fun for your baby! Each pack contains six blocks of a soft plastic which are great for promoting baby's motor skills, hand-eye coordination and cognitive thinking, as the blocks can be stacked in endless ways, tossed or knocked down. The blocks will fit in your baby's grasp from around 5-6 months or so. They are light and easily transportable, and since they are not made of fabric, they are easily kept clean by a simple sink washing.
13. Munchkin Baby Bath Toy, Turtles
This set of simple inexpensive bath toys is fun in and out of the bath. The set includes three brightly colored turtles each with a fun feature: a rolling ball, a mirror, and a rattle that will all attract your baby's attention, and hopefully make bath time a pleasant experience for the both of you. The toys can be easily grasped by your baby as they float by. Though I wish they would all float upright, my babies didn't seem to mind. When I looked for bath toys for them, I absolutely did not want any squirters that can become moldy. I found it difficult to find a bath toy, specified as a squirter or not, that didn’t have some hole that filled with water and wasn't difficult to drain. These I clean easily after every bath and I've had no mold problems with them. They are also pretty durable as I've had mine for a few years, and they've entertained three of my kids.
14. Hohner 4 Piece Baby Band
Babies love noisemakers, and this band set comes with four of them. Each of these essentially tiny instruments is bright and colorful, well-made with very young children in mind. They are all easy to throw in the car or a backpack to take along on the go. With the mini tube-shaker, babies enjoy watching the beads fall down through the baffles and make noise; just as they have fun rolling the rainmaker around and watching the beads tumble around. The baby maraca is essentially a rattle with a clear bell-shaped piece of plastic at the end so babies can see the small beads tumbling around inside. The plastic tambourine is really a fun, colorful noise-maker for young ones. It looks like shells strung together which slide back and forth on a metal shaft. It's easy for kids to manipulate it and my kids have had lots of fun with it. The cage bell makes a certain unique sound which my kids couldn't get enough of. These all help advance gross motor skills, and promote visual and auditory development.
15. VTech Rhyme and Discover Book
Another one of my favorite interactive toys for babies is the VTech Rhyme and Discover Book. This inexpensive toy is chock full of interesting things to look at, touch and listen to that will “grow” with your baby. The relatively lightweight plastic book includes six colorful pages with three light-up character buttons that babies can press while “reading.” This is an incredibly durable toy, even with my kids dropping it, throwing it, and trying to eat it, it never broke. It is a fun learning book that features seven classic nursery rhymes. With every flip of the easy-to-turn pages, your little one (and you) can sing along with favorite nursery rhymes or look at the colorful illustrations. Though the songs contain only a few bars or are instrumental, it is enough to stimulate your child's auditory sense. The whole toy is easily wiped clean if needed. With all the bright colors and lights to look at, buttons to touch, and pages to turn, your little one will be engaged as they learn about animals through fun stories!