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Meet the milestones: our favorite baby toys for each developmental stage

From her first smile to her first step, your baby spends her first year working her way through a series of physical milestones, building her strength, coordination, and fine motor skills. The right toys for each stage will give her the optimal amount of encouragement on her way, and keep her busy and happy, too.

This list includes some of my favorite toys for each stage in the first year – hopefully your baby will enjoy these toys as much as I enjoyed writing about them! (Keep in mind while reading this that developmental stages are not 100% predictable; some babies will reach them earlier, some later.)

0-3 Months

You may have begun to notice your little one smiling and making sweet tiny coos. They will begin to follow objects with their eyes. Although their vision is still blurry, they’re intrigued by contrasting patterns, faces, mirrors, and colors.

Lamaze Garden Bug Foot Finder & Wrist Rattle Set - Newborn and up

lamaze-garden-bug-foot-finder-and-wrist-rattle-set

What makes it great: These cute rattles attach right to your baby’s tiny wrists and feet, so she can start to enjoy cause-and-effect play before she’s mastered grasping and holding toys. While she can only see clearly to about 12 inches from her face, she’ll be able to distinguish these bright, contrasting colors and shapes, which will draw her attention and encourage her to experiment with the new sounds she can make all on her own!

Early Years Owl Busy Buddy Blanket - Newborn and up

Early-Years-Owl-Busy-Buddy-Blanket

What makes it great: This toy offers sensory exploration at its best, with a wide variety of fabrics, patterns, bold colors, and engaging activities, including multiple teethers and a peek-a-boo mirror to keep your little one happy. Slide the heart teether in and out of the pocket to help tune fine motor skills. A great durable blanket for your little baby to play with for months to come. Also available: Early Years Butterfly Busy Buddy Blanket.  

3-6 Months

It’s official, everything has become a teether to your little one! She can grab toys and bring them up to her mouth. She may even be rolling over from her tummy to her back. While she’ll still enjoy toys tailored to the newborn stage, she’s ready to master some newer skills.

Edushape Plush Baby Weights – 3 to 12 months

edushape-baby-edu-weights

What makes it great: Edu Weights are designed to encourage baby to grab, grip and shake! She’ll enjoy the peek-a-boo mirror, colorful plastic rings, and patterns and textures while she practices basic fine motor skills.

Skip Hop Hug & Hide Owl Activity Toy – birth to 18 months

skip-hop-hug-and-hide-owl-stroller-toy

What makes it great: This adorable owl is not only incredibly soft but is full of surprises, with over 10 developmental activities for baby to explore, including multiple textures and sounds, as well as tuggable teethers. It’s also machine washable! Definitely a bonus when everything finds its way into your baby’s mouth. Also available: Skip Hop Hug & Hide Lamb and Hug & Hide Monkey.

6-9 Months 

At this stage, new skills seem to pop up almost overnight – your baby is rolling over, crawling, and sitting up without much support. Before you know it, she’ll be running!

Tiny Love Follow Me Fred - 6 to 12 months

tiny-love-follow-me-fred-new-TINY

What makes it great: Follow Me Fred is specifically designed to get your baby moving. Built-in sensors allow the puppy to move forward while your baby crawls after it. The puppy will even bark to remind your child to keep following. Not quite ready to crawl? Switch the puppy over into circle mode. This will allow your baby to sit still and watch the puppy play roll over. Follow Me Fred has adjustable speed settings to accommodate everyone!

ELC Bendy Bird – 6 to 18 months

ELC-Bendy-Bird

What makes it great: Is your little one not taking to the highchair as well as you hoped? Have no fear – the Bendy Bird is here! A suction pad is located on the bottom of the bird’s feet to allow you to securely place it on a high chair or table. Bendy Bird encourages fine motor skill practice, and is small enough to take along to keep your baby busy at a family member’s house, or at a restaurant.

9-12 Months

She’s scooting around the house and it’s getting hard to keep up! Where do they get all of this energy from? At this stage, you want to give your baby toys that will hold her attention for more than a minute or two, so interactive games and toys are going to become your best friend from this moment forward. Any toy that encourages problem solving will keep your curious child busy.

Early Years Monkey Basketball – 9 to 18 months

Early-Years-Monkey-Basketball

What makes it great: By far one of the most adorable baby basketball sets I’ve seen! Great for building gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Watch as your child puts the balls in and out of the hoop, and enjoys the bright colors, as well as rattles and crinkles. It also folds over for easy storage.

Manhattan Toy Brilliant Bear Magnetic Stack-Up – 9 to 18 months

Manhattan-Toy-Brilliant-Bear-Magnetic-Stack-Up

What makes it great: This stacking toy uses magnets to help your child manipulate the toy more easily. As she stacks the colorful wooden pieces on the base, if they go too close to one edge, the base will begin to tilt. Perfect for encouraging problem solving and developing motor skills.

1 Year

Happy birthday! Your child’s coordination is improving, and she’s becoming more and more curious as she becomes more mobile. She’ll enjoy toys that let her explore cause and effect, as well as toys that help her learn to walk.

HaPe Rainbow Push & Pull – 12+ months

hape-rainbow-pusher

Some push toys can make a real racket (and admittedly your baby will love that, but that might get on your nerves). This twirling rainbow push-and-pull toy has a mercifully gentle sound, and encourages your child to practice cause-and-effect based on movement.

Kidoozie Stack n’ Sort – 12+ months

Kidoozie-Stack-n-Sort

Why not cover all the basics with one great toy? Kidoozie’s Stack n’ Sort is two toys in one! The ten cups nest together, or can be turned upside-down to be stacked (and then knocked down, which makes little kids giggle every time). You can also put the lid on the base for the stacking town to make a shape sorter. Perfect for introducing numbers and counting at an early age as well as hand-eye coordination.

About Nicole

Nicole has been working with Magic Beans for 1.5 years. She has several years of experience in the toy industry, not only including a retail setting but as a junior buyer as well. She has a minor in psychology and is passionate about child development.

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