Your baby loves to play and spend time with you. The best thing about play time is that babies learn through their senses, so try to choose toys and activities that engage them in different ways.

The best playthings… 

  • are interesting to look at 
  • make noises, move or vibrate when your baby touches them 
  • have interesting textures  
  • are safe for them to put in their mouth to taste and explore 
  • have interesting and different smells 

Remember that your baby is learning to explore their world by putting most objects in their mouth. So don’t worry if toys get a little wet and soggy, you can always wipe them down after your baby has finished exploring. Most toys are suitable for cleaning, just check the instructions. 

Always make sure toys are safe for your baby before they start to play – this avoids them getting upset if halfway through playtime the object has to be removed.  

Top ten types of baby toys and games

We’ve created a list of ten types of toys or games that your baby will love. They will help them to develop their coordination, feed their curious nature and teach them about the world around them. 

Noise-making and texture toys

Baby toys that make noises and have different textures are great for your baby to explore. They will learn to use their hands together to grip and squeeze. They will also enjoy putting these toys in their mouth to explore by chewing.

Mirrors

Your baby will love looking at themselves (and you) in the mirror. Choose a child-safe mirror that they can safely handle. This is also a great toy to use when your child is having tummy time.

Peek-a-boo

Babies love playing peek-a-boo with soft scarves, tea-towels and other pieces of material. Initially you may like to start playing this game with a see-through scarf so that you don’t disappear from sight!

Household items

There are so many items from around the house that your baby will like to hold and explore. Initially they will like to play with plastic spoons and containers. As they become more mobile and start to use their hands they may like to bang the pots and pans with a wooden spoon. Utensils such as a potato masher, whisk and pastry brush make great toys to explore too.

Boxes

Head down to your local green grocer or hardware store and pick up some free cardboard boxes. Your baby will love to learn how to open and shut the boxes and will be delighted as you hide other objects inside.  An empty tissue box also makes a great toy as your baby can put items inside and then shake the box. Eventually they will learn how to put items in and out themselves.

Balls

Balls are a great toy for babies as they can be used in many ways. They help your baby learn to use their hands and eyes together, helping coordination. Your young baby will enjoy holding, rolling, touching and hitting soft balls that make noises. As your baby grows they will enjoy playing with bigger balls with different textures (such as spikey, furry or smooth balls). Play turn-taking games with your baby like rolling the ball to each other. You could also build a tower out of blocks and roll a ball to knock it over.

Cause and effect toys

There are many toys that encourage your baby to learn about cause and effect. This means that your baby does something and it has an effect on the toy. Some great examples include pop-up toys or toys that open or play music when your baby hits them.

Sensory play

Your baby learns through exploring with all their senses. Babies love to play with objects that feel, taste and smell interesting. Younger babies will enjoy sensory play with you. For example, splashing in the water at bath time. When your baby is able to sit in their highchair put yogurt on the tray for them to touch and explore. Older babies will love crawling through the sandpit and feeling the sand on their toes, feet and legs.

Books

Books are a fantastic ‘toy’ to share with your baby. Thick board books are the best for this age as they are very durable. Let your baby explore books by holding and turning the pages. Try not to worry if your baby puts books in their mouth. This is how they learn about the world around them. Take books with you everywhere and always have them available to your baby at playtime. Head to your local library to find these great books for babies.

Musical instruments

Babies love music and the only thing better than listening to it, is making it. Toy drums, xylophones, shakers and bells are all great instruments for your baby to play with. You can also make your own instruments such as a bottle with rice in it or a pot and a wooden spoon.

Want to know more?

The Raising Children Network – Babies play and learning 

Zero to Three – Play