Gift Guide

rainbow stacking toy is one of the best toys for babies to help with motor development
Tarik Kizilkaya, Getty images

These 19 Gifts & Toys For Babies Will Last Longer Than 2 Seconds

Who doesn't love a chewable giraffe, I ask you?

Originally Published: 

​​Baby gift shopping. The words alone sound so promising. Yet ask any parent in the run up to Hanakkuh or Christmas and they’ll tell you that not all baby gifts are equal. Some of the most jazzy, light-up, noise-making toys end up being a total bust while the cardboard box they came in is the real winner. So how can you pick something a baby will actually enjoy? Take a look at these items, the best toys for babies.

Using knowledge of early childhood development paired with research of toys and baby gifts that have received positive parent approval, Romper has put together a list of toys and gifts for little ones proven to stand the test of time. These items are wonderful because they’re washable, safe, help develop fine motor skills, introduce babies to colors and textures, and, wait for it... aren’t obnoxiously loud.

Bright and beautiful, these are toys you won't mind looking at (because while you may aspire to putting your baby’s stuff away every evening, ultimately it’s just not going to always happen). Kid stuff tends to take over a home, and when the living room inevitably becomes the playroom, you’ll want toys that you can actually stand to have around, like these.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.


The Best Stacking Toy

Colorful stacking elements are a great way to let babies explore shapes and sizes. Plus, this rainbow just looks really cool. A collection of seven arcs of wood, each is a different color and easily rests on the next. However, as Baby will discover, they have to stack them in the correct order to make it work. Made out of Beechwood, Biofa oils, and paints, it’s a very simple concept. However, it will never get old. In fact, you might find your toddler or little kid just as amused by the classic toy as your baby. It might even become a family heirloom.


The Best Playmat

Here’s why a sweet Pottery Barn activity mat is a great gift: Baby will find it wildly entertaining and be so distracted that their parents can take a breath and do something, like sort the laundry or wash some dishes. Made up of five sensory-stimulating hanging toys and 13 loops to hook them to, this mat offers plenty of activities for Baby. And the mat itself is interactive with a“baby-safe mirror, the lamb plays music, the elephant has a rattle, and the bunny has a pouch with a carrot.” Whether they’re rolling around or staring up at toys, they’ll have something nearby to investigate.


The Best Rocking Toy Boat

Ahoy, matey! This is for babies starting to walk. Pop them in this little ship, sing “Row, Row, Your Boat,” and they’ll be happier than a sailor just returned from sea. A great option to develop fine motor skills with the act of teeter-tottering, the gentle rock will keep kids entertained for hours. Plus, when they’re all done playing, this charming little sea craft makes a nice storage space for other toys or even books. Made of wood and with non-toxic finishes, the 32″ x 11.8″ x 14.4″ boat is perfect for a baby’s room and safe as well.


The Best Sorting Cube

When in doubt, buy a baby gift from Melissa & Doug. They really do make the best toys for babies. The children’s toy brand just gets it, and this sorting block — which teaches babies about shapes and spatial awareness — is no exception. Made out of light wood, babies can easily manipulate the various shapes and enjoy the satisfying clunk as they hit the bottom of the box. The 12 shapes come in four brightly colored primary colors and have an easy to remove side panel so you can pour the blocks out to start the fun all over again. Easy to clean, even a little drool won’t hurt this classic toy.


The Best Contrast Cards

This stack of black and white cards may seem like an infant Rorschach test, but they’re actually a great way to help encourage a baby's visual perception. Even better, babies love them. With darling line drawings of animals like a fox, hedgehog, raccoon, deer, rat, and woodpecker, kids will love looking at the creatures over and over again. Large at 5x7 inches, these cards are easy for little hands to manipulate and have rounded corners to protect delicate fingers. Made with environmentally friendly ink, they’re sustainably created as well. Watch as the baby in your life becomes familiar with each character and enjoys seeing them each time you break out the box.


The Best Rattle

Rattles come in many forms, but we love this squishy set because they double as snuggle buddies when the baby needs some comfort. A combo of hot sauce and avocado, both are made out of organic cotton and stuffed with poly fill. Even better? Rattles will naturally end up in a baby’s mouth. But that’s no problem as this rattle packet can be machine washed and laid flat to dry. So you can let them can shake, rattle, and roll all day long knowing that at the end of the day you can throw the rattles into the wash and clean them up for the next day.


The Best Noise Toy

Parents, take note: this is not an obnoxious noise maker. This is a clever musical toy your baby will love. While this is a noise-making device, it’s actually pretty subtle so you won’t have to stuff your ears with cotton each time the baby in your life reaches for it. This cube uses sound combinations to create eight Mozart masterpieces. Those include harp, flute, French horn, piano, and violin instrument sounds. Lights flash with the tempo to add another rhythm-teaching element. While it’s a plastic toy, the corners are curved in order to protect Baby and at the same time make it easy for infants to manipulate.


The Best Lamaze Toy

There’s a reason you see this little bug toy dangling from so many car seats and strollers; it’s a major hit with babies who love the vibrant colors and delightful tabs and pulls. “Lamaze toys are designed to spark little triumphs at every stage of baby’s development,” the company says. To that end, this toy includes jingle sounds, multiple fabric textures, and knotted antenna for chewing. In short, it’s a multi-sensory product that will stimulate kids who might have to tag along with parents on errands or in the car, keeping their development going even when they can’t interact one-on-one with a parent.


The Best Chew Toy

You know how old Sophie Giraffe is? 60 years old. And yet babies are still gaga for this chew toy-meets-doll that first appeared in France in 1961. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke… go ahead and buy it. Here’s why. First, Sophie is darling. Babies will instantly be drawn to her sweet shape and little pink smile. Add to that the fact that she’s made entirely of 100% rubber, perfect for sucking and chewing on. With four limbs and a long neck, there’s, well, a lot to naw on. The flexible parts are super flexible so parents don’t need to worry about choking or swallowing Sophie either. Just make sure parents are aware that they need to keep Sophie clean.


The Best Odd Shaped Stacking Toy

Babies love exploring. Every moment is a new opportunity for a sensory experience. So encourage that development with this unique stacking toy, which wee babies have been known to play with for hours. This stackable toy is unique in that the shapes are a little more abstract, orbs have jagged edges babies can fit together or just plop in a pile. But there’s a catch. This is also a balance toy that will help develop their coordination and spatial acuity as well. With six colorful and textured spheres, they can topple, spin, tilt, and restack over and over again.


The Best Car Toy

Babies love things with wheels. Anything that rolls is exciting. But sometimes big brother or sister’s cars or trucks aren’t appropriate for little hands. No one wants a squished finger! So give Baby some soft vehicles like this pack of pull-back cars. You know the drill. Roll the cars back and they zoom off forward on their own. If you know a baby that’s beginning to get really into cars but not ready for Hot Wheels, this pack of four including a school bus, family car, fire truck, and police car, make a lovely alternative. They can drool on them, chew on them, or just roll them to their heart’s content.


The Best Baby Boom Box

Remember boom boxes? Good times. Well, this is essentially a baby boom box with (it’s important to note) a volume button, so they can jam without making you want to yank your ears off. Small enough for babies to carry around (even on their shoulder a la trench coat-wearing Lloyd Dobler, if they like), the music maker produces 10 sounds. Easy to wipe down and clean, it’s ideal for that drool stage when everything is a sopping wet mess. Plus, the handle features little baubles baby can play with while they jam. And a large red switch makes it super easy to turn off.


The Best Water Play Toy

Here’s one of the best baby toys. Want to make bathtime way more fun. Introduce a baby to these Sprout Ware water play cups. With little holes in the bottom of each, babies can fill and refill then make it rain until they’re absolutely exhausted. Plus, these cups make for a great stacking toy as well and fit inside each other. They’re also environmentally friendly and made out of plant resin. With six cups in different colors and of varying sizes, they make a great game for shared bath time with older siblings too if you want to begin lessons in sharing early.


The Best Entertaining Octopus

Another hit from Lamaze, this octopus has all kinds of fun things to look at on each of its arms so the baby will never tire of playing with it. There are bright colors, contrasting patterns and peekaboo mirrors all designed to support visual stimulation. Plus this little underwater creature also squeaks and crackles when Baby grabs it. Soft and snuggly too, this cute creature may become Baby’s go-to lovey as well. And don’t worry about potentially losing it — with hooks attached, you can easily connect it to a stroller handle, bassinet, or car seat.


The Best Baby Mobile

Mobiles are a lovely thing to hang above a crib, but so many are just, well... boring. Not this double rainbow mobile that parents will find funny and babies will enjoy staring at. Watch your baby become mesmerized (and very, very sleepy) looking at this little meme-inspired mobile. Adorned with four floating unicorns, it has a whimsical element with homespun appeal thanks to it being made of felt and acrylic. And say certain bodily fluids manage to hit it, even from a high range above a baby’s crib, no worries. You can easily wipe it clean with a damp cloth.


The Best Plush Baby Toy

How cute is this plush pineapple? Why give a kid another teddy bear when you can give them something as darling as this? Think of it this way, when so many children have the same stuffed animals, it’s easy for them to get confused with others’ at daycare or the park. But a stuffy that is distinct can save families from awkward conversations and tears. Adding to its appeal, this stuffed fruit also is made from soft fibers with an embroidered smiley face. It’s machine washable on cold and is just downright darling. To be honest, you can’t go wrong with this gift.


The Best Natural Teething Ring

No two ways about it, teething is inevitable. So prepare parents and their baby for it with this natural beechwood teether that’s as attractive as it is therapeutic. Rather than go with some questionable plastic teether, give a baby something all natural to naw on. This teething ring is designed to be easy to grasp for small hands and features XL soft food-grade silicone beads to really sink their teeth into. The beautiful beechwood is treated with organic coconut oil and beeswax blend so its looks lovely as well. Still, when it gets covered in slobber, you can simply rinse it in the sink and it’s good to go.


The Best Sensory Balls

Let babies explore textures with this pack of sensory balls that are soft and flexible enough to be safe for even the tiniest explorers. Made of 100% natural rubber from Hevea trees, the six balls in varying shapes and sizes were created to help stimulate visual and tactile senses while also encouraging body movement. They were made to also develop visual and spatial perception, hand-eye coordination, and shape/color recognition. Meanwhile, your baby will just think they’re having fun! Lightweight and easy to manipulate, you’ll have no trouble storing these or teaching Baby how to store them themselves into any small container.


The Best Book-Inspired Toy

There are beloved children’s books and then there’s Eric Carle’s “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Incredibly simple, the story follows one little insect as he eats his way through, well, everything. And children love it. Ever since it came out in 1969, the paper collage book has been a classic. So why not bring that childhood favorite to life by giving a baby this Hungry Caterpillar picnic basket toy? The machine washable gift is a great sensory present with a plush caterpillar, plush avocado rattle, plush bread slice with velcro closure, crinkly juice pouch, and felt tomato, lettuce, & swiss cheese which they can tote around with a little handle.

See, shopping for a baby isn’t so hard. All you need is an hour online and this handy list to guide you to the best toys for babies that will keep them entertained, help them work on their motor skills, and won’t drive parents up the wall.