7 Toys for Newborns
From soft books with high-contrast patterns to sock and wrist rattles, learn which toys for newborns your new baby will enjoy most.
Believe it or not, your little one can benefit from playing with toys from a very early age. "Toys for newborns are far from ridiculous," says Marissa DiBartolo, a toy industry expert, reviewer and senior editor at The Toy Insider. "They help with motor skill development, hand-eye coordination, sensory development, spatial reasoning and early learning. Babies learn through play -- even when they are too small to sit up on their own."
It's never too early to get your baby started. "Pretty much from birth, newborns are hardwired to learn through play," says Meryl Neiman, a play advocate and cofounder of Playdate Planet. "Play is how babies learn to move, communicate and socialize. You can engage with your newborn through gentle touch, rhythmic walking, singing (at this age, they don't care if you can't carry a tune) or conversation. Some of my favorite early toys are rattles and textured teethers with high-contrast colors and unbreakable mirrors for the crib."
Here are seven other toys to consider for your newborn.
- Hand-Held Toys
"When first born, babies have a limited field of vision so toys need to be held close, about eight to 15 inches from their eyes," says Neiman. Baby's fuzzy vision makes her enjoy anything you put in her line of sight. While she won't be able to grasp these toys for a bit, she'll love to reach and hit toys that are appealing. The Baby Whoozit from The Manhattan Toy Company features rattles, squeakers, crinkle paper, grasping loops and a hidden mirror under the big red nose for self-discovery.
- Soft Books
Soft books with high-contrast patterns and bright colors will captivate your baby because they are the easiest to see. Look for books with one bright picture per page. Sit with your baby on your lap and read to him. With a soft fleece cover and plenty of easy-to-grasp tags, the Taggies book line offers a unique opportunity for learning while snuggling.
Newborns love to sit and watch movement, making mobiles an obvious choice. Choose a mobile with large hanging objects and sounds. The music, along with the gentle motion, will stimulate your newborn's audio and visual needs. The Fisher Price Woodland Friends 3-in-1 Musical Mobile comforts and entertains baby at nap or bedtime.
Rattles are a staple in newborn toys. Shake them and you will immediately get your baby's attention. Since your little one can't hold on to the rattle quite yet, look for wrist and sock rattles like the Lamaze Gardenbug Foot Finder & Wrist Rattle Set. With every wiggle and kick, the bugs will clatter and entertain your baby.
- Play Mats
"Because babies shouldn't sleep on their bellies due to SIDS, it's important for them to have tummy time to help strengthen their neck and shoulders," Neiman says. "Using a play mat is great for tummy time and some supervised play." The Gymini Developlace keeps little ones entertained with bright colors and fun hanging toys. DiBartolo loves this activity center because "as baby gets older, it transforms into a crawling tunnel. Also, the jungle theme is completely gender neutral, and there are enough features that even older siblings can play with their newborn brother or sister."
- Unbreakable Mirrors
Babies are all about self-discovery, even if they don't know it yet. They find their reflections fascinating, and you will soon start to notice them babbling at themselves. The Bright Starts Sit and See Floor Mirror offers a large safety mirror while also giving a true reflection to your baby.
- App-Enhanced Toys
"It may seem strange, but app-enhanced toys can be great for newborns as well," says DiBartolo. "Technology is everywhere, and babies will be exposed to it whether you like it or not. Programs like Tiggly are a great teaching tool, and it's never too early to learn how to swipe and engage with technology."
When choosing toys for newborns, select "items that are easily washable, like cotton plush toys that can handle the washing machine, or chunky plastic that parents can wipe clean or throw in the dishwasher," advises DiBartolo. "Grow-with-me toys, which transition from newborn to baby to toddler, are also great -- especially if it's hard for you to see the value in newborn toys. These toys ensure you are getting the most out of your investment, since babies go through developmental stages quickly."
For more ideas, read about Choosing the Best Baby Play Mat for Your Infant.
Stephanie Glover is the writer and photographer behind A Grande Life. When she doesn't have her camera in her hands, you'll find her with a cup of coffee.