Best toys for infants aged 0-6 months

21 April 2021

baby with infant toy

A well-chosen baby toy will not only give parents a moment’s peace, but it can also encourage your little one’s development. We’ve rounded up the 12 best toys for infants from birth to six months.

Tiny humans who are capable of little other than feeding, sleeping and filling their nappies have no need for toys, right? Think again. Carefully selected toys can stimulate babies’ senses and enhance their development right from the get-go.

While nothing will entertain a newborn as much as a family member’s face, an age-appropriate toy can amuse even the youngest of infants, and encourage growth and learning right from the start.

Choose one that’s suitable for your baby’s developmental stage and that stimulates the senses. Moving or noisy toys are sure to be a hit, as are those that feature various textures and high-contrast patterns.

We’ve rounded up the 12 best toys that are ideal for the first six months of your baby’s life – any of which could well induce your little one’s first non-gas-related grin.

0-1 month

1. Tiny Love Meadow Days Double-Sided First Book

“Books that are suitable from birth will have black and white shapes and rudimentary faces, which newborns love to look at.”

Babies have limited vision when first born, so high-contrast toys are perfect for helping the youngest of infants learn to focus.

One side of this soft book from Tiny Love features mostly monochrome illustrations, making it a great choice for newborns who can gaze at the cute woodland creatures, patterns and shapes. The other is bright and colourful for when your baby’s sight is more developed from around three months.

Plenty of sensory experiences are incorporated into this textured toy, which has mirror and ribbon details, plus crinkly peek-a-boo elements. It can stand up on its own or lie flat and is perfect for placing around the top of your little one’s cot, baby carrier or pram.

Easily foldable for on the go, it can be taken absolutely everywhere. Other baby toys could take a leaf out of this one’s book.

Age suitability: From birth

2. Nuby Cloud & Star Play Gym

“My play mat was worth its weight in gold. Both my DC loved lying on it and kicking their legs.”

Your bundle of joy can have an entertaining workout with a multi-sensory baby gym. Providing a soft, snuggly space to kick and stretch, an interactive play mat lets your little one wriggle in comfort and the dangly toys encourage them to reach and grasp, improving their fine motor skills. Not only that, it’s perfect for practising tummy time too, which will aid muscle development.

A play gym is not only for the enjoyment of your baby – it’s also a lifesaver for parents who’ll appreciate its ability to amuse little ones when in need of a short break.

With detachable arches, the plush, cloud-shaped base of this play gym from Nuby can be used on its own and is easily cleaned in the washing machine.

It includes rattle, squeak and mirror toys and, although it’s not the most colourful playmat on the market, its calming, dreamy tones come into their own in less-energetic moments, making it ideal whether your newborn is in the mood to ‘exercise’ or relax.

Age suitability: From birth

3. Mamas & Papas Hey Sunshine Activity Spiral Travel Toy

“Baby normally seems mesmerised with his spiral toy. I’ve got it wrapped around the car seat handle, which keeps him amused on journeys.”

If you’re in a spin over travel toys, you’ll be heading in the right direction with an activity spiral. Designed to wind securely around the bumper bar of your pushchair, it can also be attached to a cot, carrier or car seat for many months of fun travels.

This infant toy from Mamas & Papas will ensure that your newborn has something within reach to explore on trips, however short or long. With three soft, hanging toys for little hands to grab and tactile tags that babies seem to love, it will keep your child happy while you pop to the shops, go for a stroll or head off on a long car journey.

This interactive play hub may occasionally slip to one side while you’re out and about, but at least it’s the one toy that won’t get lost along the way.

Age suitability: From birth

2-3 months

4. Lamaze Clip & Go Koala

“Lamaze does loads of lovely dangly toys that are suitable from birth.”

Your little ankle-biter will have no worries when this cheerful Aussie herbivore is hanging around. Boredom won’t get a look-in thanks to his kaleidoscopic, contrasting markings and tempting textures.

Quickly clipped to everything from buggies to baby bags, this multicoloured marsupial squeaks and crinkles, teaching your infant about the concept of cause and effect. And being smaller than many of the toys in Lamaze’s classic range, its price tag is too.

Mumsnetters are consistently impressed with the versatility of this brand’s toys and their ability to amuse – and this quirky koala is no different. The manufacturer is also mindful that everything young babies touch goes into their mouths, which is why this toy’s dangling leaf is there solely for curious gums.

Age suitability: From birth

5. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether Toy

“My DS is only 14 weeks so struggles to hold teething rings, but he has a toy like this, which is a godsend.”

When those pearly whites start to come through, something to nibble on is a must. Infants around the world continue to go gaga over this loopy teething toy decades after its launch – and for good reason.

Its tantalising tangle of tubing makes it easy for tiny fingers to pick up and clutch, plus it can be refrigerated to soothe sore gums. Lightweight and with a quiet rattle in the central cube, it will hold babies’ interest and is a go-to gift for new parents.

Esteemed among child development professionals, it’s won numerous awards in years gone by. Perhaps the only thing to chew on is its price, which is at the higher end for baby teethers.

Age suitability: From birth

6. Hape Beaded Raindrops

“DS was fascinated by his rainmaker toy at about three months.”

Who would’ve thought that the sound of the Great British weather would be so pleasurable to tiny people? Yet babies are unfailingly captivated by a rainmaker, which mimics the noise of precipitation with the trickling of the coloured beads within. And it’s not only auditory development that this classic toy encourages, either – it also aids hand-eye coordination.

Although designed to be easy to hold, younger babies will need their parents to turn the toy upside-down and set the beads in motion.

Your infant will enjoy watching and listening to the subtle, soothing sounds of Hape’s Beaded Raindrops, which comes in either blue or red.

Age suitability: From birth

4-5 months

7. Playgro Loopy Loops Ball

“We got a soft ball that has a bell inside. The bits of fabric with different textures keep them entertained.”

Your baby will quite literally have a ball with this eye-catching toy from Playgro. With patterns, tags and textures galore, it can’t fail to brighten your child's day.

The subtle tinkle sound that this patchwork ball makes as it moves is sure to capture any infant’s attention, as will the bold colours and circular mirror, in which they can catch their first glimpses of themselves.

Just the right size for small hands, the only drawback of the Loopy Loops Ball is its incompatibility with the washing machine.

Age suitability: 3 months+

8. Fisher-Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse

“DS1 had a Fisher-Price Seahorse. Worked a treat and he still uses it occasionally at three-and-a-half.”

Oldies can be goodies and this musical favourite is a marine-inspired case in point. Helping countless babies to doze off over the years, the Fisher-Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse lights up – along with your baby’s face ­– and plays soft lullabies and classical music for five minutes when its tummy is squeezed.

This cuddly buddy is neither too bright nor too loud to keep your baby awake, and the eight comforting melodies and seaside sounds are mellow enough not to annoy parents – although having to activate the toy every few minutes for younger babies might.

Available in blue or pink and with a machine-washable cover, many Mumsnetters report that their kids still use theirs well beyond their baby days.

Age suitability: From birth

9. Kaloo Plume Doudou Rabbit Comforter

“DS has a Kaloo Rabbit, which he loves and always sleeps with. I keep meaning to buy another one in case it disappears!”

Kaloo can do no wrong in our sleep-deprived eyes. Their adorable products are not only well-made and beautiful, they’re practical too.

It’s clear that a good deal of thought has gone into each one of their super-soft toys ­– they’re easy for infants to grasp and most can be machine-washed and dried as well.

This rabbit comforter is a security blanket and plush bunny in one. We love that a dummy can be attached to one of the four corner knots, so it’s always nearby, plus you can write your baby’s name on the satin ribbon in case it gets mislaid.

Although not the cheapest of comforters out there, Kaloo products are elegantly packaged and make chic gifts. This one comes in a square keepsake box and is available in a choice of timeless colours.

Age suitability: From birth

6 months and beyond

10. TOMY Toomies Hide and Squeak Eggs

“TOMY Hide & Squeak Eggs are a cheap classic. They’ve been around for years and babies love them.”

When it comes to baby toys that stand the test of time, this one from TOMY is a popular eggs-ample (forgive us). The half-dozen eggs inside the carton delight and surprise with their funny faces, plus hiding inside each one is a colourful chick that chirps when pressed.

A bestselling toy for almost three decades, Hide & Squeak Eggs also incorporates colour matching and shape sorting to develop logic and problem-solving skills. These educational aspects may not be appreciated at this stage, but the great thing about this battery-free toy is that it’ll still be one of your child’s most cherished months and even years down the line.

Be aware that your baby may just want to empty the eggs out and noisily bash their shells together, meaning they’ll be strewn all over the living room floor, but the joyous expression on your little one’s face each time they play more than makes up for the daily clear-up. All in all, this is a toy that’s well worth shelling out on.

Age suitability: 6 months+

11. Bright Starts Shake & Spin Activity Balls

“Activity balls are great from this age.”

It’s often the simple things that are most entertaining for inquisitive babies, who’ll be keen to shake, rattle and roll these vibrant activity balls from Bright Starts.

Each of the five toys in this playset features a different engaging activity for your child to discover, from spinning to clicking and rattling to rotating.

The whole family can join in with the hands-on fun, which encourages the development of fine motor skills and will be enjoyed by youngsters from tinies to toddlers. Your little one will be so eager to get to these balls that they’ll be crawling across the floor before you know it.

These toys are not only affordable, they’re solid and robust too – all well and good on the longevity front, but not so great if your baby’s preferred pastime is throwing.

Age suitability: 6 months+

12. Skip Hop Explore & More Egg Shaker Trio

“My little boy just loves maracas and musical instruments, so I always have a few of those knocking around in my bag.”

Shake it, baby! These cute and colourful musical chums each make their own distinctive sound and, with plenty to hear, see and touch, this animal trio is a sensory delight ideal for this development phase.

The three friendly-faced characters have textured tummies, are extremely durable and can be easily wiped clean. Although the age recommendation is three months plus, they may be more suited to slightly older babies who can hold the shakers more comfortably.

While the set comprises a fox, owl and hedgehog, the latter tends to be the one that’s played with most due to its bumpy back. Who knows – these touchy-feely fellas could well be the inspiration for a maestro of the future.

Age suitability: 3 months+

What are the development milestones for a baby during the first six months?

Each baby is different and develops at their own pace, but there are key milestones to watch out for over the first few months of life.

0 months

Newborns can initially only focus on objects that are around 20cm in front of them, seeing in black, white and greys in their earliest days. While unable to lift their heads, they can turn them to the side and, at two weeks, their eyes should follow your face. They’re getting used to life outside of the womb and need the opportunity to stretch out of the foetal position. They’ll still need neck support.

2 months

Babies will start smiling when spoken to and making cooing sounds. They’ll wave their arms and legs when lying down on their backs and hold their heads up for several seconds when on their fronts. They may grasp your finger and turn their head in response to noises.

4 months

When in a sitting position, babies are able to hold their heads steady, without support, and should start reaching for toys. While holding a toy, they will look at it, wave it around and try to chew it. They’re also becoming more vocal at this stage, able to laugh and make high-pitch squeals.

6 months

Your baby will start to roll in both directions and sit up with support. They may also get into the crawling position and be capable of grasping a toy using both hands. Playing with their feet while lying on their backs is the norm at this age, as is holding out their hands to be lifted up. They’ll pass an object from one hand to the other and enjoy looking at themselves in a mirror.

Do babies really need toys?

While your baby is completely dependent on you and incapable of controlling most of their movements, you’d be forgiven for thinking that toys were simply a waste of money.

Be in no doubt, however, that your little one is taking it all in and, even if they’re too young to reach, grab or see clearly, they can still benefit from toys that aid visual stimulation, such as those with high-contrast patterns and pictures.

As they grow, activity toys that also appeal to the auditory and tactile senses will come to the fore. Encourage your baby to reach for them and move forward, to assist physical coordination.

When should I introduce toys to my newborn?

It’s never too soon to begin your baby’s learning journey or to start playing with them, which not only aids bonding, but mental and physical development too – even when they’re teeny-tiny.

While the instinct might be there, babies won’t start to develop the skill to grasp toys until at least two months old. Just remember that colourful toys are wasted on the littlest of newborns, so a simple monochrome one is your best bet for a happy infant.

What is the best toy for a newborn baby?

For its versatility, portability and simplicity, our choice of best toy for a newborn baby is Tiny Love’s Meadow Days Double-Sided First Book. It provides developmental support through the first chapters of your infant’s life and will be relevant from birth, right up to six months and beyond.

How we chose our recommendations

We first headed to the Mumsnet forums to find out which toys for infants aged 0-6 months discerning Mumsnetters recommended and had bought themselves, noting their feedback about these brands. We then drew up a shortlist of those that were repeatedly mentioned.

From there, we did some research across the wider web, consulting independent review sites and taking into account what customer reviews said about the products featured. Having collated all that information, we picked the infant toys we thought were worthy of taking the titles in an array of interest categories.

Why you should trust us

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Main image credit: Manhattan Toy