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The Essentials - Toys For A Baby's First Year

Babies transform dramatically over the first year. Here are the toys we recommend every parent have on hand for playtime with baby.

Washing the muckiness of the day away doesn't have to be a chore, though, if you make bath time as much fun as getting messy in the first place! Here's the scoop on babies and baths in their first year.

Teethers & Rattles

Several good teethers and rattles should be in every new parent's toolkit. They allow baby to practice grasping and shaking, are great for developing hand-eye coordination and help baby soothe those sore little gums. Look for teethers made from safe materials in a variety of shapes and colors that are easy to grasp from all angles.

Our favorites? We like Green Sprouts' Natural Wooden Ring Rattle and Cornstarch Dumbbell Rattle. We also love colorful soft rattles like this Very Hungry Caterpillar Teether Rattle which features a nubby rubber panel at one end.


Play Mat

A safe, soft, washable play mat can be a lifesaver for those first 6 months with your baby. Playmats are perfect for tummy-time and give baby a spot to stretch, wiggle and roll. We like Skip Hop's Alphabet Zoo Activity Gym. It will quickly become an indispensable part of your baby's day. It features friendly, dangling toys for baby to reach for and colorful, tactile flaps that will inspire baby to stick with tummy time long enough to develop the muscles he'll need for crawling.


Plush and Soft Toys

Young babies have the tendency to bop themselves in the face and head with anything they are holding. You can blame their developing gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. So, it's good to stock up on lots of soft toys that baby can explore in their first year.

We love toys that you can hook or latch on to strollers and high chair/shopping cart covers like the Lion Bandana Buddy from Skip Hop or this fun light-up firefly from Kids Preferred. Baby can play happily without mom having to worry he will throw his toys into that suspicious puddle on the sidewalk. Our other favorites - this soft exploration cube and the Tinkle Crinkle Rattle and Squeak Caterpillar - a colorful classic with tons of tactile surprises.


Soft Blocks & Cars

A good set of soft blocks and soft cars are also a must for babies. We love these Match & Build Blocks by Melissa and Doug. Build them up, knock them down or just have fun exploring all of the neat pictures and flaps they feature. These soft pull-back cars will delight as baby grows from pushing them around to learning to pull them back so that they zip across the floor.


Musical Instruments

Explore different sounds and tones with musical instruments. We love stocking a new nursery with a cache of musical instruments designed especially for small hands. Smooth egg shakers, colorful miniature rainstick instruments and a sweet little first orchestra set are all perfect for your baby band. As your baby gets older, introduce fun mallettless or slit tone drums, tambourines and a fun glockenspiel that features a different color for each note.

Fun tip - Study up on all of the classic songs from your childhood. Using your stash of musical instruments to rock out to Bingo and 5 Little Ducks is a great way to spend the day with baby.



Who doesn't love a puppet show? These soft, machine-washable hand puppets are great for playing with your baby. You can make them come to life with animal sounds or use them to act out animal songs like Old Mac Donald. Being tickled on the tummy is all the more fun when the hand that does the tickling is transformed into a cute pink piggy. We love toys with a long lifespan. As your baby grows into a toddler and preschooler, your roles will reverse as she uses her imagination to put on puppet shows for you.



A ball is the perfect toy. We love the colorful 5-inch ones from Crocodile Creek like this one featuring cars or this one covered in butterflies. Sensory balls like this one from Edushape are also great for babies.

At the end of the day, what baby most likes to play with is you! Games of peekaboo, sing-alongs and giggle-fests feed your baby's brain and nurture her spirit. A supply of good, safe, open-ended toys can complement your time together, providing countless hours of independent and collaborative play for you and your baby.


That's why we think an IncrediBundles.com Learn & Grow Baby Gift Bundle, filled with the very best toys for babies, is the foolproof baby gift. Give one at your next baby shower and mom and dad will think of you every time they play with their baby!